The certificate was laboriously scrawled with an ancient fountain pen, and the registrar solemnly asked me to check the details before signing it. I dragged my eyes through the words, which all seemed to make sense, until the bit about me: Relationship To Deceased; and then there was a word I couldn't make out.
It should have said Husband, but I couldn't make the spidery blue marks on the paper form into that. And that was the first time I'd contemplated that word, in relation to me and my new categorisation in the world.
And you don't, somehow, think
What does widowed mean in a relationship that word. Until it happens to you. And then I began to notice something different. Maybe I was a little bit insane, but the cautious body language of the playground seemed to become more insistent, less reserved, as if something normally fastidiously withheld, was on offer. First out of the blocks was a lady who got me through the first few weeks, helping to deal with the almost impossible administrative burden of simply letting the children go to school.
Nothing happened between us, but after a while I noticed that she had begun to stock her fridge with beers.
Then a scrubbed-up divorcee began popping up asking if there was anything she could do. This created minor territorial issues between the two women, which I observed, bemused, from the sofa.
During the previous 23 years, I had been single for about six What does widowed mean in a relationship. Living alone was surprisingly satisfying — if I tidied up the flat and then went out, it was still tidy when I got back! From the age of 19 I had two six-year relationships. And then I met Katherine. Within a month I had a full-time job there, and after three months she noticed me.
The fault lines in both our relationships gave way, and I spent the next 13 years perpetually amazed that I'd found her. We were confident together, and she would often tease me about friends that she knew I liked. It's easy to deify the deceased, but Katherine was a special person.
No enemies, no bad habits, no fillings. Her idea of a blowout was grilled fish and salad, and her grace and kindness pervaded everything she did. Audrey Hepburn crossed with Julie Christieshe was stunning at 28, but even more so at I loved watching her age, which, like everything else, she did beautifully.
I was not that surprised that she died. Why shouldn't she be chosen? I cared for her at home, but there was no way to discuss the future, which loomed like a black hole. Eighteen rejections later, I got two positive responses. Strikingly attractive, but clearly insane. I think I can help. That was good enough for me, so I booked her, even though she could stay for only two months.
The children excitedly asked what she looked like and eventually hassled me into getting her to email a picture. Slumped, unshaven, probably unwashed, in my dressing gown, I watched What does widowed mean in a relationship download, and it was as if a ray of sunshine had suddenly broken through the clouds.
Despite her extraordinary physical charms, Farah's kind, thoughtful intelligence was what came through. As we spent time together, Farah's reassuring presence seeped into me. Gradually, our late-night conversations became more intimate, and we did that thing where sleep in or on the same bed without doing anything for a while. We both shed tears when I dropped her at the ferry after her two months were up.
One was "sleep with someone exactly half your age". I was 42 at the time. At first I thought this was a flippant coincidence with my own experience, but then I heard about Peter, a friend of a friend who lost his wife about 18 months after I did. Within a few weeks, his year-old European au pair was waiting for him in his bed.
Did he have problems with "bereavement tourism"? It seemed to activate a mothering instinct; but it definitely focused much more on me than the children.
And there was a definite edge to some of it.
It seemed to make me more attractive than I should have been. Which obviously really pissed her off. Does he regret sleeping with the au pair? I'm still seeing her, in fact, but it's awkward now we live in different countries.
Meanwhile, as I had a reasonably high-profile job, letters started to come in from potential suitors. Another offered her daughter, which was weird. But mostly, like Peter, I noticed the reaction of female friends, some single, some happily partnered and some not so.
Jamie, another friend who knows another widower, says, "In the aftermath, he used to call and say, 'I can fuck anybody. He couldn't believe it was What does widowed mean in a relationship, but she told her husband she was leaving and suddenly there was a complete mess.