How many 31 year old widows do you know? The internet says that “the average age of a widow is 59+”. I became a widow at 31. My late husband died of cancer four years ago, leaving me a widowed mother of two young children.
Young widowhood is hard. My late husband and I were still figuring out life when he died. Shortly before he died, we built our first home together- next door to his parents. I love Kyle’s parents. I love his whole family. But, we lived next door to them. Living next door to family had its great perks as we were journeying through treatment. Even before cancer, it had its perks. But, it was hard. I wouldn’t want to live next door to my parents, let alone his- especially as a widow. You know, when Kyle died, I said to myself “that’s it. I’m never getting married again. I’m staying Kyle’s wife until I meet him again in Heaven.” I was staying in my house. I explained my grief process in a previous post. I grieved the entire illness, so my grief wasn’t such a shock when I lost him. My grief, though, did not just stop when I got home from his funeral. In fact, I still grieve today.
I grieved hard for about 3 solid weeks after his funeral. I wasn’t missing the Kyle that weighed nearly only 70 pounds when the funeral home picked him, though. Yes, 70 pounds- 31 year old man. He was sick. I was missing the Kyle that I met when I was 22 years old. I was missing the Kyle that kept my ass in check because he was my best friend and knew what I needed. He understood me. He loved the hell out of me, and my God, I loved him. I wasn’t missing the Kyle who was ready to leave this Earth. I wasn’t missing the Kyle who was crying out to God one last time before he had to be put to bed for the last two days of his life. I wasn’t missing that. My husband was sick and, as it was in God’s will, he died.
Shortly after his funeral and a few bottles of Xanax and sleep later, I decided it was time to get my shit together for my kids. They had seen enough. They watched their daddy fight with so much desire to live. Kyle wouldn’t have wanted me to become a useless mother, addicted to Xanax, and sleeping her life away. Well, Kyle wouldn’t have wanted me to do a lot of the things I did after his passing, but we’ll get to that another day. It was time for me to rise back up. I didn’t have any regrets from Kyle and I’s life together. He died. I didn’t. I had to continue living.
I started online dating. Yep! That’s how I met my husband. 🙂 Thanks to match.com, I started to move on. Lord, you change your status on social media from “married” to “widowed” and DAMN, they are coming out of the wood works. I’m like “if I would’ve known this shit, I could’ve found my man on Facebook and saved my $39! I started online dating because I didn’t want to be seen out “having fun” or “not grieving”. I’m telling y’all, young widowhood is hard. It’s hard for a people pleaser like myself. I didn’t want anyone to know that I was dating because of the fear of exactly what happened. I decided one day to call my dad. I decided that if his opinion of me dating was negative, I wouldn’t do it. I never really cared to get his approval growing up, but I didn’t realize how good of a dad I’ve always had. I needed his approval to date again. His approval was all that mattered at that time. My kids’ approval would come next. When I called my dad, I said “I started an online dating account. I’m ready to move on. What do you think?” His advice to me came straight from his head and he said “it’s too soon. People are going to judge you.” A little disappointed, we hung up. Not 5 minutes after we hung up, he called me back and said “hey, online it says that waiting so long to move on after a loss is kind of a thing of the past. So, I guess if you want to date, you can do your own thing. Just be ready to handle the judgment.” My thoughts, I’ve got it. I can handle this. The judgment I’ll face? Can’t be any worse than what I just went through. The hardest thing I’ve ever been through was losing Kyle. What could be worse?
Thennnnnnn, it started! I started dating someone. As much as a secret as I tried to keep it, I guess me radiating happiness, for the first time in a long time, all over my face, along with my talkative, then 5 year old daughter, the secret got out! “Kyle’s widow was dating just short of 3 months after losing him.” “Y’all know Kyle Quebedeaux’s wife that owns the flower shop? She’s dating! ……..already.” “There’s no way she could’ve loved him.” “How in the…….what what is she dating so soon?” Yep, all of that. All over town, Erin Quebedeaux, the widow of Kyle, was dating again. The funny thing is is that they were all keeping their snares and ugly remarks from me! I said it- the ones who either knew nothing about Kyle and I seemed to finally care, or the ones that were glorifying me 5 months prior for my phenomenal care taking skills- those were the ones judging me. No one seemed to want to come directly to me to find out if I were actually dating. They preferred to ask my young children, nonchalantly. They preferred to do a ‘Google search’ on me to find out who I was seeing, where I was seeing this person, when I was seeing this person, etc. Just as much work as it was for me to keep it a secret from the town I resided in, because of certain circumstances, it seemed like a hell of a lot more work to drive the distance to find someone’s vehicle parked to verify whether I “could be dating”. I just wished people would have asked. If I could’ve explained my story to each person who personally asked, I promise, I would not have faced the judgment. I would’ve told you the truth. I would have told you how much I loved my husband and how eager he was for me to move on and find happiness again amidst his leaving us. Kyle and I would still be married today if it weren’t for is death. When I hear “she didn’t love him”, or something similar, I want to choke! It’s the farthest thing from the truth.
Not only had I moved on from a relationship standpoint, I started getting out. I started doing things again. Things that weren’t associated with MD Anderson Cancer Center. My God, thank God for that place, but damn, I hated being in Houston for cancer treatment. People didn’t want to see me happy. People AT my husband’s funeral didn’t want to see me happy. I get it, not everyone was at his funeral for me, but by the grace of God, I got through that day. Kyle’s funeral was beautiful. However, I felt so out of place there. Leading up to his death, all I can guess is that anxiety, fear, stress, sadness, etc. boggled the minds of all of us. We were all tired and we all were bitter. I still don’t quite understand why it had to be like that. Of course, a funeral is far from a happy event. But, his funeral, I felt like it was some sort of a bitter event. I wasn’t the only one that noticed it. People who I was close to, that supported me, noticed it, too.
Three months after Kyle died, I sold our house. Not only did we live next door to his parents, we lived in the town that he grew up in. In a town where I was labeled and heard of solely because I was married into Kyle’s family. So, was I supposed to stay in a town that didn’t want me there? Hell no. I started house hunting- again, another secret. Long story short, I found a house, made an offer (2 days before Christmas), offer was accepted, I found an agent to sign me up with homeowner’s insurance and a title company to close the loan and on Christmas Eve, the wonderful TWO MEN AND A TRUCK packed up all of my stuff and moved me out and into my new house- boxes unpacked, house was livable two days after Christmas- BOOM! I put Kyle and I’s house on the market and within 24 hours, I had accepted an offer and it was under contract. Don’t try to tell me about God’s plan! Things worked out they did because of Him and Kyle. I’m blessed.
Often times, you hear that “if a spouse moves on shortly after the spouse’s death, that an indication that it was a great marriage”. And, it was. Kyle and I had our differences, but we had a great marriage, despite all of the shit we were dealt. Not only was our marriage healthy, and I just lost him, I needed an accountability partner. I knew, that with my mental health, I couldn’t be alone for very long. A few relationships here and there after the loss of Kyle, I have met, online of course, my husband. Jacob is my best friend. He’s just downright amazing and I love him dearly! I’ll write all about Jacob one day. 🙂
I want you to rethink your views on widows/widowers moving on. Imagine if it were your 31 year old daughter who just lost her husband after a lengthy illness. I’m sorry you didn’t get to live through my season those 5 years to be able to understand me better. It’s not my fault. Trust me, anyone who was willing to step into our lives during that time, sure was welcomed. Y’all, it’s not fair to us. Stop judging us. You have absolutely no clue what young widowhood feels like. And, yes, we know you’ve lost a loved one in the loss, too.