Widowhood feels like that programme from the 80s, Quantum Leap.
When that bloke arrives in a new world feeling like himself, only to look in the mirror to find he’s now a naughty nun.
Like learning how to live again, widowhood presents a series of ‘firsts’ and new choices. All to be dealt with whilst fighting off the grief gremlin who is clinging to your back – yeah, Dr Sam Beckett, you didn’t have to deal with THAT added twist, did you?
Today, I had a ‘first’. Yes, seventeen months in. I thought I’d pretty much fielded all the balls in this ‘new normal’, but an emotional googly came at me today, threatening to deflate an otherwise glorious day.
I’d met with some friends in a park in Newcastle. It was a searing 24 degrees, cloudless sky, the kids were free-range, we were young, bronzed and gorgeous*. (*OK, the group next to us were young, bronzed and gorgeous, but we were absorbing it. Like osmosis. And that was what mattered).
You just knew something had to come along and shit on it.
And he did. Right at the end, as we were saying our goodbyes. Steve Duncan appeared on the periphery of my vision. (We’ll call him Steve Duncan, for that is his name).
Steve Duncan was an ex-colleague both M and I shared. We worked on a youth project together in Sunderland ten years ago and aside from a wild Hallowe’en party involving a Hulk mask and a bowl of vodka-laced gunk, I haven’t seen him since. Yet there he was, Steve bloody Duncan, now with blonde-haired child calling him daddy.
My blood instantly chilled. Steve Duncan wouldn’t know about M. He’d be over in a minute, asking me how things were, what I was up to, how was his old mate M? I could see him looking at me with that, “That is her, isn’t it?” half-smile expression on his face, poised for the approach.
It occurred to me that I had not yet had to deal with people who had known M, but who weren’t aware He was dead. I was confident that social media had covered this for me. But Steve Duncan had been out of the loop for so long, the news wouldn’t have reached him.
I gathered my child and my dog and scurried up the hill towards the car. When I looked at my reflection in the wing-mirror, it could well have been a naughty nun looking back at me.
Another experience in this strange new world.
Note on picture: WordPress suggested it as an accompaniment to this post. This baffled me at first – what combination of words could have prompted it? But then I realised that over the past four months, Wordpress has clearly come to know me better than I know myself. For that is exactly what I feel like. A chimp with a gun. Thanks WordPress!