A Dispatch from Widow Twankey

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Me, last night.

I’m in love with a dead man.

Head over heels, lindy-hoppin’, hells-a-poppin’, TomKat-couch-jumpin’ in love. With a dead man. I think about Him and my heart swoons.

I remember the night we met. He was wearing a blue turtle neck jumper, blue jeans, and smoking a Marlboro light. He smiled at me and I was hooked.

“Mother,” I said to The Long-Suffering One that same evening. “I’ve met the man I’m going to marry.”

And I did, four years and a small amount of petulance later. (“Well, when ARE you going to ask me to marry you then, for fuck’s sake?!”)

So in all of this – this being truly, madly, deeply in love with a dead man – where could there ever be room for anyone else? And furthermore, what sort of head-banging masochist would put up with being in a relationship with someone who was still in love with said dead man? Particularly one with a small child, a red wine addiction and a habit of unexpectedly breaking down in the throes of grief?

I have been forced to consider this question this week, after a good friend who only cares for my well-being, called me Widow Twankey and instructed me to ‘get a life’. I would have preferred a comparison with a more romantic heroic lead, but I suppose if the hairnet fits…

She said it in response to my admission that I’m lonely and might quite like a friend who is a boy. Her outburst was tempered with humour and red wine, but based on the adages relating to these two concepts and truth, I kinda know she meant it. Others are probably thinking the same, of course, but lack her eloquence to express it.

So, in considering this question, here’s where I’ve got to. I’m in love with Mark. And we exist together in the impenetrable love cocoon that I have created inside my head.

I’m just not sure how to go about letting anyone else in.

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19 thoughts on “A Dispatch from Widow Twankey

  1. Lucy i feel ur pain u just cant fall out of love when someone dies ul always & forever love mark but u will know when the right time is 2 allow someone special in to ur heart they will appear when u arent looking until then unburden urself with ur blogs drinkas much red wine as u want & no that all ur friends r there 4 u hugs soon julie xxxx

  2. Your last post made me laugh and this one made me cry. I so get that feeling of still being so in love. It’s what keeps me going at times, remembering the good times, the daft, late night conversations that no-one else would understand etc, etc, but it’s also what makes me so miserable and sad and upset. That knowledge and realisation that he’s no longer here and that those feelings don’t have that one person you want to be able to return them and appreciate them. I too can vividly remember our first date, and being asked to leave the pub as they wanted to shut (that became a bit of a theme!)

    You’ll always love Mark and be in love with Mark, but hopefully you’ll find someone who you can also love and who will understand that Mark is, and always will be, a huge part of you. Until then, keep drinking the red wine. Love & hugs xxx

  3. I am so pleased I have found your blog, you are able to elegantly say exactly what I am feeling! I am only 5 months into my new “journey” and its such hard work all the time, I have so many memories of good times and happiness, and this stuff happening making me so unhappy all the time, just this evening i found myself driving along a busy A-Road crying my eyes out to Bryan Adams!

    But I am still here, alive, alone and with all the same feelings and needs I had before but no-one except myself to deal with it. Thank you (again) for sharing your thoughts and feelings, I can relate so much to them!

    • Donna, thank YOU for sharing and commenting. I used to hate it when people said to me, Oh 5 months, you’re so EARLY in this journey, but I find myself saying it to you – I’m approaching the two year mark and it is less of a slog than it was at 5 months, but it becomes hard in different ways – I think you grow weary of being apart, weary of them not being here, weary of trying to accept the truth that they are gone. We need to stick together and keep each other buoyant though, because as you say we are still alive and still here and are human at the end of the day. Much love. XX

  4. I was over at some friends on Saturday a couple who Ian and I used to hang out with in the good old days. After a few bottles the conversation turned to Ian and we all got tearful. His abcense is always felt when we get together he’s my -1 when I get invited out. The conversation turned to my meeting someone else and I got quite defensive. It’s too soon for me even to think about at moment but I honestly can’t think it would ever happen. I loved Ian too much and no one else would put up with me. My friends said I will feel different as time goes on and it doesn’t mean I love Ian any less. He’ll always be a part of my life. Who knows ey? Never say never Although this is the word that keeps spinnin in my head xx

  5. I am nearly 7 months out from the death of my Beloved, after being married for nearly 46 years. I, too, am wildly, truly, madly in love with a dead man. I remember every moment of the night we met and talked for 7 hours, then waking the next morning and KNOWING he was the ONE, and also knowing he knew I was the ONE. my mom adored him, and at every visit managed to tell him the story of her first hearing of him when, the next morning after our meeting, she came downstairs and found me gazing starry-eyed into space, and wondered – what???- then my telling her that I met the man I was going to marry. I only have one friend who was widowed, around my age, with many of the same tortuous circumstances of our lost loves deaths; but she is blissfully re-married to a wonderful man who was also widowed. I can’t deny that I hope that will happen for me one day. to have had such an incredible happy marriage that made us grow even closer when we both had cancer at the same time – all that love, the intimacy, the joy and togetherness that is so suddenly gone…I’m far, far from ready to seriously contemplate another relationship – but if it should happen down the road, I think I would thank my lucky stars, and I know Hugh would be over-the-moon happy for me. my friend and her new husband talk about their former spouses all the time – they have photos of them both all over their home, and they say they truly love the man and the woman who made their lives and them so fulfilled and open to allow new love into their lives. I guess that’s the thing about love – there’s more than enough to go around, to be grateful for years of it’s daily infusions of such wonder, and for it to be honored by continuing to live our lives with our hearts open to accepting new love, should it happen to come our way again.

    much love and light,

    Karen, xoxo

    • Another lovely thought-provoking post Karen. I think you have a good angle on this – being open to accepting new love – and that it is a legacy of our beloved spouses that one day we might be able to do this. it’s funny, when I first lost Mark I recall sitting with some friends categorically stating that I would never love again, I didn’t want to and the thought repulsed me. But would Mark want that? And as a sentient human being, would I want that? Odd the directions that this ‘journey’ takes us. Love and light to you. XX

  6. I was in Paris with Mark, Cathy shared your blog with me a couple of months ago. I think we met once in a London cavelike wine bar – a first as Mark kept any Parisien dalliances well away from us! I have cried many times reading your blog but am so over the moon that Mark and you were so fantastic together. Of course you are still in love with him, he was amazing… We used to talk about friends being like pieces of spaghetti thread through all the holes (your friendship needs) in a colander, wherever you were different people would appear and fill whichever colander space was empty. One day someone will appear to fill this particular hole – not sure of the appropriate panto inuenndo sound to make here- but I hope you know what I mean x x

    • Hi Jenni, yes of course I remember you, you were very special to Mark and I am pleased you got in touch and took the time to comment. Like the spaghetti analogy, so true. Hope life is treating you well. XX

      • Life has been good with a few bumps along the way thanks for asking. Will always regret losing touch with Mark through jobs, new borns etc just thought there would always be time. Your angry phase seems like a positive to me – if nothing else it is a doing emotion rather than a being done to. Keep it up x x

  7. I’ve been reading your blog almost all afternoon and have almost commented on several previous posts but have so far resisted thinking that I would read it all and then post on your home page when I caught up to date but this post resonated so strongly I can resist no longer.

    To give your some context my wife died of meningococcal septicaemia after a very traumatic and painful 6 month hospital interment aged 37, leaving me with 4 children aged 12, 9, 6 and 6 months old in October 2002. I’ve had almost 12 years as a widower & single father and am far away from your current position on the grief road but reading your blog brings back those early years in all their soul destroying agony, senselessness and desperation.

    Since then I have had 4 relationships – the first was during the summer following her death and was purely sexual, the second was later that year and was highly inappropriate (I would be ashamed had it not been a grief madness based thing) and the other two were later but didn’t last because I was still grieving – or so I thought.

    After years of navel gazing I realised that the reason they failed was because a) I’ve rebuilt a completely new life around my children (I gave up work after she died so that I could look after the children and make sure they came through the grieving as quickly and as wholly as possible) and it was impossible for both women to break into our routine and home made self help group – it also didn’t help that my daughter, who’s the eldest, became a rather frightening mummy tiger and saw both of them off; kids eh – and b) I later realised that I was, and still am, unconditionally in love with a dead woman and would therefore only hurt any replacement I might find.so stopped looking for one. As a result I’m much more content than I think I otherwise would be.

    Luckily I have a group of 5 girl – as in female – friends so my contact with the opposite sex continues and has enlightened, or perhaps that should be leavened, many of my parental decisions over the years and as to the other we were given two hands so variety isn’t a problem.

    In another post you talk about not talking about death which is very true; death has become the west’s last taboo subject, I remember people crossing the street to avoid bumping into the widower as if the condition were catching!

    To the point: on the Saturday/Sunday night before she died we had a very long and painful conversation about what would happen if she died (in retrospect I think she had given up the fight and knew that her death was imminent but at the time I had no idea that she would die, twice, the following Tuesday) and it helped me post death to have had that painful conversation – it did fuck all to help my grief though.

    Sorry for the long post but it’s your fault for being so honest and writing so openly about a subject that I could win Mastermind with – like I said before it brings it all back (but NOT to life, the only cliche that is true to a certain extent is that time is a great healer but it’s the new you who has to bury the old you and things will never be the same as before the event, for example that grief madness lingers – I still have daily one sided conversations with her and the dreams still cause me to wake up in tears – but the bone crushing weight does lift unfortunately no-one can say when.

    • David- this is an extraordinary comment, I’m not quite sure where to start. Firstly, thank you for reading and commenting. Your honesty is refreshing, and appeals to me very much because as you can tell, I believe in getting it all out there. Why should grief and manifestations thereof be taboo? Much of what you have said resonates, especially around the issue of relationships and the unconditional love for a dead person. How does one ever surmount it? As regards inappropriate liaisons based in grief-madness, I too could win Mastermind on that subject (and without wishing to use this as a book promotion opportunity, I have written about this in my memoir, because I think there are lots of widows and widowers out there doing it, or having these feelings, yet too ashamed to admit it.)

      Your story is heartbreaking, totally heartbreaking, and to be left with four young kids must have been virtually impossible to deal with in the immediate aftermath, but they have probably become a source of great comfort as my daughter has. My only challenge now in this regard is not stifling her with love, I can barely let her out of my sight at the moment.

      It is comforting to think that there is a long way to go down this grief road, that I will not be forever stuck at this impasse, and it must be reassuring, in a way, for you to read the musings of someone at 2 years and see how far you have come. Even looking back at this blog from when I started writing it I can see that I have travelled forwards (even though I am apt to take two steps back from time to time.)

      Thank you, David, for your response, and for giving us a perspective from 12 years on. I am very grateful to you. Lucie x

      • Don’t worry about book promotion – I already knew about it having stalked you on the interweb, not in a scary way but in a piqued interest sort of way (I hope there’s a difference generally because there is in my mind) and look forward to buying it in July.

        To be honest I don’t really see the difference between having been lumbered with the emotional support of one child or three – plainly Felix aged 6 months was blissfully unaware of the event although I do worry about his teenage and later years – and look back on the early years as being a bit stretched thin on the emotional support front as well as the school run, extra curricular clubs and other child related fronts but I think that probably holds true for all widow/ers.

        You’re right my children were, and are, a huge bridge to regaining my sanity even to the extent of preventing two contemplated suicides (I blame the alcohol and that bastard grief insomnia) but believe you me when your daughter hits 14/15 you’ll be wanting to stifle her full stop, make the most of it while you can. Don’t worry about the wrapping up in cotton wool thing, it will pass. For at least the first three years I thought every sniffle from any one of them was non presenting meningitis (having said that when Felix, the youngest, was about three we went to Spain for a holiday and he contracted Scarlet Fever and I totally shat myself to the extent that I had a serious breakdown in Malaga Airport thinking he was going to die! The Joy of Grief knows no bounds).

        I’m glad that you find it comforting to know that 10 years on from where you are is a different country; I was a bit worried that I might sound like a sanctimonious old prophet preaching from on high, I’m relieved to find I didn’t!

        Two off topics I’d like to mention:

        1. I am frankly astonished by Kate Boydell’s (Merry Widow) reaction and response to whatever it was that you posted because I can honestly say that without her website I would not be in the place I am today. I haven’t been on the forum in an age but back in the day it was an anything goes, utterly honest vent forum and I’m at an utter loss as to her banning you. To me your style of coherent, honest and open writing is what Merry Widow is all about and I simply don’t understand, to me, her out of character reaction.

        2. I’m going to steal He and Him, if and when I write T’s experience, – other than by God and Jesus is it copyrighted?

      • Nowt wrong with a bit of cyber stalking – in the right context, of course! Yes, I am not looking forward to my daughter’s teenage years, especially when I think back to how footloose I was at that age…gawd! I may have to bring out the manacles. Re: Ms Boydell, I have to say it hurt me deeply at the time and I seriously contemplated giving up the blog – I was obviously (and still am to a degree) very vulnerable and her email just knocked me for six. I have no idea why I provoked such a vitriolic reaction, or why she saw fit to banish me from the site, which, as you say, was such a lifeline for me in those early days. I’m over it now…pretty much, anyway! But thanks for the supportive message!
        And feel free to use the He and Him – I don;’t think God would mind. X

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