Sex. I’ve been thinking about sex. I miss it. Spring may be slow to come to the Palouse this year, but my body doesn’t seem to be noticing that. I’ve been thinking about sex.

Jim and I had a great sex life. Upon discharge from the hospital 3 days after emergency brain surgery, I pulled the surgeon aside to ask how long we had to wait before having sex. The doctor explained that with the portion of his brain that was cut out, Jim may never want to have sex again. I let him go on a while, and then I asked how long we needed to let the incision heal before we could have sex without worrying about popping the staples. With patience and pity in his eyes, he replied, “2 weeks.” We made it 10 days.

It’s not just the sex I miss. I miss being wanted. I miss feeling desirable. I miss the look on a river trip that says, “Let’s go find the grown-up beach”. I miss having a cancellation at work and calling Jim at school to tell him he forgot his lunch. I miss sneaking in after a late night of dancing, and having him wake up. I miss the shower door opening and having Jim say, “I like to watch”. I miss telling him he looked sexy in rubber gloves to get him to scrub the toilets. I miss lazy Saturday mornings of having a cup of coffee and then going back to bed. I miss falling asleep on the couch with my feet in his lap. I miss nature nookie. I miss the hand on my low back. I miss the play.

A good widow says that her late husband gave her enough love to last a lifetime. She lives vicariously through her children’s experiences and takes great pride in their accomplishments. She slowly takes on the chores and responsibilities that her husband did, and is stronger for her new-found skills. A good widow looks back with love and longing at her best years, and walks bravely into the future. A good widow does not crave sex. She certainly doesn’t talk about it. She doesn’t burn out the batteries on her “toys”, and she doesn’t lose 4 pounds in a week just by thinking about sex. Apparently, I stink at being a good widow.

And this is really scary. I have been left splayed open by Jim’s death. I am raw to the touch, to kindness, to the sensuality of the world. I feel old and ugly, needy, and, gak….vulnerable. I wish I could put all of this safely back behind the brick wall where it has lived for the past 6 months. But it would be a façade. Spring is here, summer is coming, and this part of me is SOOOOOO not dead yet.

Moscow is a great place to live, a wonderful community. Having lived here this long, I have lots of friends and many of them are male. I have men to hike with, to ski with, to swim with, to dance with, to talk with, to drink with, to laugh with, to help me finish raising my son. I have friends that I can call, email or text at anytime. I even have friends that have offered to hold me while I cry myself to sleep….if only I was brave enough to do so. And yet, it is not enough.

So, what to do? I will do what I have always done. I will put on my big girl panties, and get on with my day. I will scream at my empty house, yet again, that I don’t know how to do this. I will, brick by brick, build the wall back up around my heart. I will take long walks in the moonlight, I will make myself eat oatmeal. For today, I will enjoy the flowers I bought myself and go see if I can figure out how to tune up my lawn mower.

But, it will be a façade. Don’t be surprised if someday, you ask how I am, and I look you straight in the eye and reply, “I’m horny as hell”.

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8 Responses to Sex

  1. Joan Jones says:

    Good! Not that you are left, umm, unfulfilled, but that fulfillment is still in your inventory. I learned that there’s a moment when vanity trumps mortality and I have to start wearing lipstick and dressing like a girl instead of like a patient. I think you are realizing that spring trumps grief–or maybe simply weasels its way around the edges–to give you something good to look forward to. And, with no apologies for incumbent puns: something good will come.

  2. Dan Cordon says:

    Maybe it’s true that a good widow doesn’t do/wish all those things you mentioned. But apparently a great one does. You are absolutely fantastic – never think otherwise. I know I tend to view myself through the mirror of my partner. When she smiles at me, wants to cuddle, or make love…that tells me that I must be an okay person. When that mirror wasn’t there, I completely lost my measurement of self-worth. It was a difficult time to say the least. Hopefully you’re surrounded by friends who can constantly remind you how great you are. When you decide you are ready for companionship, I can’t imagine any eligible person wouldn’t be delighted with all you have to offer.
    And if the lawn mower gives you any grief, let me know. I’m more than happy to get it ready for the (late-arriving) spring.

  3. CAPPIE51 says:

    Thanks so much for your honesty. I found your blog by googling “widow misses sex.” My husband died 9 months ago and I so miss our regular sex life. None of my friends really understand my drive to find someone with whom I can have this again. I’m a lot older than you, but that doesn’t stop the desire. So much of what you say in your blog, I, too, miss. Being desired, being held, having someone to make love me. I do suppose it’s more than just sex, it’s that intimate relationship that I miss so much. Good luck to you. At my age it’s much more difficult to find a suitable partner.

  4. Rachel K says:

    Thank you for stating so succinctly what I have felt for the last few weeks and months. My husband passed away suddenly about a year and a half ago, but unlike you we did not have a very good sex life during the later years of our marriage, so physical intimacy has to suffice for us for a number of years. It was good and satisfying on certain levels, make no mistake, but it lacked a certain something if you know what I mean.

    I have an “old” new friend that has come back into my life in the last few weeks and so far it has been just a lot of the same old teasing we used to do back in the day and long late night conversations that lead to frustrating dreams and battery purchases, I should seriously thing of adding Duracell to my stock portfolio. There seems to be a barricade of distance and schedules that I am unfamiliar with, being married for 22 years where if sex was even on the menu it was at least in the same house. That being said, I find it interesting that I am more willing to THINK about sex, having it, wanting it, being deliberate in preparing for it, where with my husband it was just routine and habit.

    I know that I am probably alone in my thinking, but there are some small bright spots in the darkness of widowhood in that I am rediscovering some of the person that I was before I married, and finding that through the filter of the love and respect that my late husband had for me I like myself a whole lot more now, respect myself more, and protect what I find precious and valuable more fiercely. I too miss the hand in the small of my back, the reach for the hand hold in the middle of the aisle at the grocery store, the comfort of rolling over in the middle of the night to spoon. Hell, I miss the warmth of a body on the other side of the bed. There are so many intimacies in marriage that have nothing whatsoever to do with sex that are missing now, and there are just only so many things you can do for yourself. Friends just don’t get it, especially the married ones who laugh nervously and look away when they picture themselves in you position. You can’t discuss it with family under any circumstances, it is just too personal.

    Those of us in the “club” as I have come to think of us are all the walking wounded, somewhere on the road back to ourselves, so sharing can be scary on a lot of levels. I tried a number group grief sessions – they all just pissed me off with the crying and emotional “vampirism” as I call it where you feel sucked dry at the end of the meeting. None that I have found seem to do anything but circle the same issue – they are gone, I am still here, what do I do now? I know what to do, live my life however long, remembering the best of my husband, forgetting the worst, and honoring the love, faith and trust that he placed in me that I would try to be happy doing whatever I find next.

  5. My husband gone only 5 months and I only turn 40! I’m trying so hard to wait out the year and be a good widow but I feel so lonely and miss touch and of cause sex. At least I’m not the only one out there. It’s good to hear I’m not alone. Even though my husband was sick we still had a pretty good sex life even down to the very end. He had heart problems I didn’t expect him to die so suddenly at 48 years old leaving me with are 3 year old litt girl and his 2 girls and my older daughter all great kids.We all got dealt a shit hand. Trying to be normal again but worrying who is going to judge me. A widow is got to be the hardest thing I’ve ever went through. Your still living but you’re supposed to act dead and carry that tourch but being a human having urges and want human contact we sometimes have no control but out of respect for my late husband I haven’t acted on it.

  6. Cathleen says:

    My husband of 5 years passed suddenly 7 months ago. We had a FANTASTIC sex life, and I crave the kisses on the back of my neck as I would do the dishes. I want the touches in the middle of the night, which many times led to more. He awakened me sexually, after being in a sexless, loveless marriage for over 20 years. He gave me a sexual confidence I never had, and always put my needs first, in and out of bed. So this void is so unnerving, so achingly sharp. I know I’ll never find another who would be as perfectly in tune with me, but I want…although I too have not acted on my needs.

  7. Lisa G says:

    Great article! I am two and a half b years into widow hood. I Miss Sex!!!! Im only 39 and am seriously considering a friends with benefits type relationship with my husbands close friend. He has stayed in touch with me on a regular basis. He has admitted to me that he would like to be intimate with me . While im not looking forna relationship i am wanting some physical attention. Im so confused and not sure what to do.

    • wackywidow says:

      Just so you realize, “benefits” always come with strings. Even if it is “just sex”, it will be different with someone new. Having to let go of what was, and realize that every relationship is unique, is very difficult. Sex is like a dance. The steps might be the same, but the creative expression of those steps is what makes it a dance rather than simply a gym class.

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