Several years ago, M and I visited Shakespeare’s house in Stratford-upon-Avon with some friends. The house stands alone and detached – a wattle-and-daubed anachronism in the middle of a busy commercial street. It was difficult to approach it with the reverence it no doubt deserves though, as the four of us couldn’t stop laughing. Each room had been set up as an approximation of its 17th century self, each with a descriptor stuck near the door. “This was probably the birthing room”. “This was probably the scullery”.
“This was probably the shitter,” my mate said, peering into a small locked closet round the back.
The problem was, we all knew how we were supposed to feel on a pilgrimage such as this – awe, deference, respect – yet shuffling around the tight little corridors behind a fleet of Japanese tourists, I’ll admit I felt nothing. And neither did the others. Except an overwhelming desire to take the piss.
My experience of widowhood brings to mind that trip. I think I know how I’m supposed to feel. Indeed people tell me how they think I should feel and how they think they would feel if it were them. But in reality, how I feel bears no relation to how I think I should be feeling.
Just as I was a bad visitor to the Bard’s birthing room, I wonder sometimes if I am ‘bad widow’. Because some days, I feel positively joyful. Other days I wonder how the hell I’m going to go on. Most of the time, I just want to take the piss.