Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sex with Dead Husband?


A friend of mine recently asked me, "Do you ever have sex with Evan and imagine, just for a moment, that you're having sex with Erik instead?"

Normal thing to wonder about a remarried widow, I suppose.

Actually, I love that she asked me this.

But the answer is NO.

Never have I imagined, in the heat of passion, that Evan was Erik.

I did, however, imagine that other men I dated were Erik.

Of course I wanted them to be Erik.

When you watch your 29-year-old husband slide down the kitchen counter and die, there is a certain amount of denial that comes along with the territory.

Like staring at the door. Waiting for the knob to turn.

Erik, you home?

Nope. Not home.

Or completely vacating your pregnant body because you cannot believe that you are that woman. That 29-year-old widow with two babies.

Not possible.

In fact, denial forced me to date three different dark-haired men, all named Erik.

Seriously.

Why?

They just kept popping up in my Match.com instant-messages.

But, come on, people, husbands are not handbags. You can't trade one Coach purse in for another, just so you can call it by the same name.

"Sorry," I'd say. "I have a rule of not going out with Eriks."

It wasn't right.

If I accidentally called them by the wrong name, how would they ever know?

But it is because of Erik, because of having him yanked away, almost seven years ago, that I have learned to love Evan even more.

That is as far as I go with two men in my bed.

I do not envision Erik under our red chenille blanket with us, or that Evan is Erik.

But, you know, I do hold Evan's gaze in a way that I didn't with Erik.

Why did I do that? What made me turn away?

I was afraid. Felt undeserving.

Why should anyone love me this much?

And now, I ponder this newly created life with Evan and our four children, and I realize that I am still afraid.

This time, though, what I fear is that I will miss out on these moments of bliss.

So I keep my eyes open and do my best not to look away.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mommy Guilt: Widowed or Not


Guilt. Mommy guilt. Daddy died guilt. Always the guilt.

Each morning, at 6 AM, Julian, 2, calls out, "Ma Ma. Ma Ma? Ma Ma," and the race begins.

Ugh! I shouldn't have stayed up so late.

Four kids, like newly hatched spiders, crawl up my skin. They nip at my arms, my shoulders, my feet, and I want to flick them off. I want five minutes, just five freaking minutes, to make my coffee, before I get them ready for school.

"Clothes on, hair brushed, then come to the table for breakfast," I command, but they continue to swarm, completely ignoring my orders.

"Ewwwwwww!" Tatiana, 8, screams, as she holds her Hello Kitty toothbrush an inch from my swollen brown eyes.

"Tati, WHAT are you doing?"

"Mommy, Juju just put my toothbrush in the toilet!"

"OK, well, use a different one. Come on, Tat, we're already running late!"

"But he used it, Mommy. Right after he put it in the toilet. JuJu brushed his teeth with poo-poo water."

Fine. Great. Worse things have happened.

I'm trying to finish writing my book, DROP DEAD LIFE, the journey to love after my 29-year-old husband's death. Struggling to make some money in my children's photography business. AND be a good wife. A connected mother. A compassionate friend. But there is this guilt. This mommy guilt.

Back to the lunches, Hyla.

My dry, dehydrated hands move quickly from one lunchbox to the next, conscious of each child's preferences. One dinosaur pack, one "High School Musical", one purple "Girls Rule," one 12-year-old's eye-roll-inducing brown paper snack bag.

And, just as I zip up "Girls Rule," Keira, 6, kicks her foot against the wall. "But, Mommmmmy! I've already told yooouu!! I don't like turkey, or cheese, or peanut butter, or pasta, or vegetables!"

"Keira, really, what else is there?"

"Sweets. Only pack me things that are sweet."

As if I will ship her off with a pan of brownies. Seriously?

Why can't they just be grateful for what I give them? Don't they know that I was an actual person before I had kids?

Then, of course, when they hear my husband's footsteps on the stairs, the kids fall in line like obedient soldiers.

"You making it easy on Mommy?" Evan doesn't yell, he doesn't lose his patience, and he certainly NEVER raises a hand at any of them, but they listen. They do not suck the energy out of him because he feels no guilt over his requests.

So, what is the point of this guilt? This mommy guilt. Why do I let it drain me? Why can't I just accept the fact that I am only one person?

This need to overcompensate for my own unhappy childhood is certainly not a benefit to my kids.