But it seems as though Frank's death smoothed all the rough edges off our relationship, leaving behind something ideal, untouchable, and intimidating to men.
Some guys have even turned my widowhood into a weird power struggle, a game of "Whose life is harder?
The path that led me from wife to widow had been long, crooked, and painful.
I had spent the previous two years watching my husband fight, with grace and heartbreaking optimism, a rare and aggressive form of esophageal cancer.
Other men, once they learned of my history, avoided me altogether.
I cried on the phone to impassive health insurance bureaucrats.
ONE MARCH AFTERNOON IN 2010, I logged on to Facebook and glanced at my relationship status.
My 42-year-old husband, Frank, had been dead for a month, but it still said "Married." Then, in a surreal, only-in-the-21st-century moment, I changed it to "Widowed." I hesitated, but I had to do it: No word but So, at age 39, after seven years of marriage, I was no longer married; I was a widow.
However, there always seems to be a barrier between us, and it's often Frank. Not only can I seem frustratingly ambivalent about what exactly I want from a relationship--I'm still trying to figure that out--but before I became a widow, I held my own judgments about these women.
Recalling my days as an English major, I recall depictions of tragic, desexualized widows--from Naomi in the Bible; Widow Douglas, the stern and pious caregiver to Huck Finn; Widow Quin in Synge's play .
Although I decided to wear my wedding ring for a year after his death (as a respectful gesture to Frank and to keep unwanted male attention at bay), six months in, I felt ready to date.