I'm morbidly obsessed with widowhood, especially this week. First I saw the movie 'Water,' about the old Indian custom of forcing widows to live impoverished lives of self denial. Well, it was that or burning with the dead husband (or in rare cases, remarrying, but only if the husband's younger brother was available). Then I saw 'United 93' and re-read all the obituaries of the passengers and crew. The film (which is a sensitive and powerful portrayal of that final doomed flight) reminded me of all the widows left behind. Yesterday morning, as I was commuting to work, I had a horrific thought that my husband had died. I thought about what kind of life I would live. I thought about my mother who was widowed with four children at 36.
I suddenly felt my eyes filling with tears and shook myself back to reality. What would I do? I can't imagine myself with any other person. I met my husband my freshman year in college. Would I dedicate myself completely to my children and to causes that are important to me? Would I try to find love again? Would I too choose, like a neighborhood friend, a life of celibacy and self sacrifice? These thoughts loom large for me, not because I expect my healthy husband to die any time soon, but because I am keenly aware of my mother's life, which is divided in two: everything before my father died and everything afterward.