Guest Spot: The door closes and everything changes

Twenty months ago, I lost my husband to cancer. Although I knew his diagnosis was terminal, one is never prepared for the loss.

Over the decades of losing parents, siblings and friends, the loss brought sadness, but life for me still went on. You learn to make adjustments and get on with your life, while longing, remembering and praying for those who have moved on.

The loss of a spouse is different. In a sense, I feel as if I am half the person I once was.

I have a newfound respect for widows and widowers. We have lost our life partner, someone we grew up with, raised a family with and shared all that life had to offer. We are members of a club we never wanted to join.

Although I am an independent woman, my husband, who was truly my best friend, took care of me in ways I never realized.

I see everything differently in my new life, from the way I drive my car and the streets I drive on, to the way I listen to music and view my family and friends. I even have a different relationship with my dog.

What I notice most now is couples. They’re in the supermarket, Home Depot, in cars. What is it about couples? They’re everywhere.

Every day I get up and go to work, while making time to meet with family and friends for dinner or coffee. I go to events, attend local meetings and go shopping.

Through it all I put on my “before I became a widow” face. It’s a happy face. One that hides the pain, as difficult as that is.

If you were to meet me for the first time, you might not know I was a widow. I’ve found the people who do know have treated me with compassion, especially in the early stages after my husband passed. You really find out who your true friends are, but everyone has to go back to their normal routines.

I go home and close my door. There I have no one to talk about my day with. No one to watch TV alongside. I sometimes cry myself to sleep.

I’m in a new chapter of my life. I’m downsizing by selling the home that my husband and I so loved.

Soon, I’ll move into a condo. There I won’t have to worry about gardening or removing snow. There’s a gym, a movie room and a swimming pool. There will also be plenty of activities I can join. But when I close the door to my new home, I’ll still be alone.

You see, anyone who’s lost a spouse is never the same person they once were. It’s a truly rude awakening that can happen to anyone at any time.

So when you’re offering your condolences to someone who lost a partner, try to think about what they’re going through when you say you’re sorry for their loss.

Every night, they have to go home. They have to close the door.

The author lives in Mattituck.