07/12/2015 09:41 EDT | Updated 07/12/2016 05:59 EDT

I Don't Feel Like a Widow, But I Am One

Robin Summerfield

It's very weird being a widow at age 44. It's even weirder when people refer to me as "a widow."

For context, I would rather be called the dreaded "ma'am" than "widow." The ladies out there will know the horror of first hearing themselves referred to as 'ma'am.' It is unsettling and icky. It's as if you cross an invisible threshold into old age. Inside, you may feel like your 20-something self, but your actual, outside 3o-plus-plus self isn't fooling anyone. That's how 'widow' feels too. It stings.

The truth is I don't feel 44 and I don't feel like a widow. I feel married and 80-years-old. In the past four years, I have aged tremendously, both physically, emotionally and mentally. And in my mind, I am still married.

Mike has just been gone a little more than a month. All his clothes remain in the closet and his jackets still hang at the front door. Some mornings, I catch myself thinking he'll be coming down the stairs to join me for coffee.

Cancer changed me. My hair is greyer, my waistline is thicker and I have permanent dark circles under my eyes. Add a perpetual lack of sleep and a lot less energy and I am a perfect shadow of my former self.

Emotionally, I am hollowed out. Cancer took so much from me, besides Mike. My spirit is heavier. I feel wiser and stronger, sure, but it came at a very big cost. I have depression. It is under control according to me, my doctor and my CancerCare therapist.

Mentally, I am impaired. My brain is mushy and if I didn't know better, I'd think I had dementia. My therapist assures me I am not losing my mind. It's just temporarily misplaced. A year from now I won't remember a stitch of what I am going through right now. Grief and trauma messes with minds. So, until my synapses start firing properly again, I write everything down. My day timer has become my diary and my to-do list. This blog becomes a record of my life. (Keep on reading, I promise lighter posts are coming soon.)

Even with all that, I try not to dwell on all the things cancer has tried to take away from Mike, Will and I. In time, my spirit will be lighter, my mind will be sharper and I will be happy. Who knows, maybe love will find me again.

But please, please, until then, don't call me "widow." Or "ma'am."


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