Who Is the Mad Widow Why Is She Mad?
That's a good question. Let's start where it all started, shall we?
I unexpectedly became a widow on February 4, 2018 at 3 am.
It was then that my 49 year old husband Chad died unexpectedly.
Man, that sucked.
When we met, we were both 35 and we married shortly after. He was a unique guy in most all ways, but his most visually obvious uniqueness was that he was 100% paralyzed from the shoulders down from diving into too-shallow water when he was 19 years old. He used a series of spiffy wheelchairs over the years that he drove with his head and chin entirely. He was a skilled driver after 3 decades of driving a wheelchair - but I wasn't even after 15 years. Once after putting him in bed one night, I was moving the chair out of the way as usual but my hand slipped a bit and the wheelchair plowed right through the bedroom drywall.
The very awkward question people wanted always wanted to broach (among many others) when we met then married was "how long will he live?" He was certainly at higher risk of death than the average guy, but as someone with two decades of medical research to my credit behind me, a PhD in a medical field, and sheer determination, "my" quad sure as shit wasn't going to die of any quadriplegia related condition. I fought, bulldozed, cajoled, sweet talked, yelled when necessary, found doctors, fired doctors and got him the very best care the world offers. And Chad? He was tough as nails. I used to joke that at the end of the world would be cockroaches and Chad because he went through so many bouts of illness that would have killed others, but he just kept coming back to life as if by magic. I lulled myself into thinking that he really would live a normal lifespan and we'd spend our twilight years together.
Well, there are still cockroaches. But Chad is gone. Incredibly though, he died of something 100% unrelated to his quadriplegia. I have mixed feelings about that. Mostly, I am damn proud of him and me for keeping him alive and not succumbing to his injury, which causes the ultimate death of virtually every high level quad. On the other hand, the particular disease he died of was an orphan (rare) disease that only strikes a few thousand people in the US a year. In that way, it seems incredibly unfair that he had to be so unlucky as to break his neck at age 19 and get a rapidly fatal horrific disease both. Shouldn't being paralyzed from the neck down for 30 years be enough suffering, but he had to also develop and die from an extremely rare fatal disease too. I haven't fully sorted out how I feel about any of this.
The bottom line is that he is dead and I'm not. I'm still here.
But alone. So very, very alone. And you know what? I'm pretty mad about that. And sad, and many other emotions.
This site started because I haven't found any resources yet that have told it "like it is", or at least "like it is for ME". So this is partially just cathartic to write and partially in the hopes to help others who find themselves grieving. And partially because I want to memorialize all of this in real time, because even though it is ungodly painful - it is a highly unique experience to lose a disabled spouse of 15 years for whom you did everything.
And I do mean everything. We had a caregiver who took care of him while I worked full time, but when I was at home, I was "on" as his caregiver 24/7. For 15 years, I picked his nose, I scratched his head (constantly, think about how many times an hour you touch your face or head), brushed his teeth, stretched his limbs, even peed and pooped "for" him. Losing any spouse is horrific, but I have to think there is a special brand of hell for those of us who also lose doing the other half "our body" when our spouse dies. I called myself Chad's arms and legs. I really was his arms and legs. So I genuinely feel deeply and physically that that part of my body was ripped off of me and ..... I miss it.
Now, a word about privacy and how I am going to write. If you don't already know who I am in real life, it is a trivial 10 second google search to figure out my real, full identity from what is posted on this blog. Here are the rules and conventions:
- I freely use my husband's first name Chad but not our last name
- I will not be referring to myself with my name. Instead, I am "The Widow" or "The Mad Widow".
- I have a child. However, this child will not be written about by me except in very general terms, and I ask that if you comment please do not ask or write about him. Such comments will be deleted for his privacy.
- Comments are welcome but I reserve the right to moderate them or delete them. This site is not a democracy. It is a healing tool for me. Current ironclad reasons a comment absolutely will get deleted though are: use of my real first name, use of our last names, reference to our address (we live in the Raleigh-Durham area of NC), and any mention whatsoever of my son.
- If you would like to contact me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org even if you know my real life email. I would like to keep this separate from my real life. Many entries here are direct copies from my facebook entries, but please do keep comments here and there separate.
So that's it. Who am I is something I'm going to be figuring out.
I lost two identities at once when he died: wife and caregiver. I have other identities beyond those of course, but they all shift in light of that sudden void. I guess the best answer now is that I'm a widow trying to navigate sudden and horribly complicated grief.
I hope this site provides a positive contribution to the world.
All text and images on this page are the property of the owner of The Mad Widow.