Firsts Were Expected; Seconds Weren't

Last updated: February 2023

I'm a member of the Twice Widowed by Breast Cancer Club, so I've experienced two sets of "firsts". While they shared some similarities (widow fog, lethargy, etc.), my two experiences were also quite different.

The club that nobody wants to be in

When Jimmie Lou, my first wife, died in July 1998 from MBC (diagnosed at Stage IV), I had a 14-year-old daughter about to begin her freshman year of high school, and I was about to complete my 43rd year on the planet. After about four months, my daughter, believe it or not, suggested that I get out and try to meet someone.

After the initial shock of her idea ended, I took her up on it, and Cheryl found me online. We hit it off on the first day and married five months later. Cheryl died in May 2020 of MBC during the initial shut-down days of the pandemic. I found myself retired (from teaching to care for Cheryl), widowed, and precious few places to go because of health restrictions.

During both first years, I compared my feelings to that of a kite having its tail removed. I had no direction or purpose. I was floating wherever my emotions took me, so there were many more lows than highs.

During the second year without Cheryl, I struggled even more than the first year. Much of that, I believe, was due to the numbness felt during the first year. Once that began slowly dissipating, my emotions began asserting themselves with a vengeance.

The healing process

Now that I'm halfway through my third year, I'm (very slowly) learning how to enjoy life as a single person. I've faced many challenges with this. I've moved because I returned to the classroom. I've bought a new home. Church didn't work out because of a widening schism, so that has been a major disappointment for me. However, I'm making new friends at work, and that's always a plus.

For those who fear the unknown (and that's many of us), I recommend that you forge ahead at whatever pace is comfortable to you. We all grieve differently; therefore, we all move forward differently. Some remarry quickly, as I did after Jimmie Lou's death. Others never remarry, and I'm currently wondering if I'm now in that group. Time will tell. It always does.

This is my story.

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