It dawned on me today that it’s been nine months since I buried Paul. I just don’t know how that’s possible. I still have trouble comprehending how things could go from a happily-ever-after fairy tale to a horrific nightmare in a flash. No warnings, no time to prepare. It just doesn’t make sense. There are days when I think “I can do this. I can live on my own without Paul and be happy. I can build a new life and it will be good.” Then there are days when I wonder how I can function without him. But I manage, mostly.
Note: This post was originally shared on my “widowhood” blog, “Frances 3.0: Still in Beta”.
When most women my age talk about major life events and “nine months ago” they’re showing off a newborn baby. I sometimes regret that we didn’t have children before he died. I sometimes wonder if it would be easier to cope if I had our child to raise – children to “be strong for”; but I know that, too, would have added grief. And, oh, those poor children; what kind of hell would it have been for them?
My inability to have children (safely and without medical risk) brought us to a plan of adoption. We talked about it before we got married and decided that we wanted to adopt older children (preschool, early elementary) through the foster care system. Because we were “older” ourselves, we figured it would ensure that we were around to see them grow up as well as our grandchildren grow up. Plus, why deal with diapers and spit-up if you don’t have to? Paul was only six when his own father passed away, and he didn’t want our children to have to grow up without both parents as he did.
We filled out forms and applications; we went to classes; we had interviews and home inspections. And when the day finally came that we were approved, we celebrated just like I imagine a couple would do when they learned they were pregnant. (Only with a bottle of Champagne because, well, unlike most expectant Mummies, I could still drink!) Then came the hard part: Waiting for the call. We got a few calls here-and-there from children’s caseworkers but it wasn’t the right fit for one reason or another. Then it happened – we got a call about two kids who we were very interested in. We were finally going to be parents! And we celebrated some more… we couldn’t wait until May!
A week before Paul died, we were asked to take a short-term foster placement. We knew it was just for a few days and that it wouldn’t impact the placement of the other children, so happily accepted. And for nearly a week, we got to play Mum and Dad. And Paul was amazing! He was a better Dad than I was a Mum – and I watched him with awe as he interacted with the young child. She went home on Friday; that night we talked about how great it was to have been there for a child in need. Paul talked about how wonderful he felt to be a part of the child’s life, and we both talked about how excited we were to have our “future kids” come in just a couple of weeks.
The next morning we woke up giddy; basking in the afterglow of playing “happy families” and looking forward to the excitement of making it a permanent activity very shortly. I went to bed that Saturday thinking about how wonderful it would be to raise a family with Paul. I didn’t know it then, but the next morning I would be planning his funeral, not a family.
I always imagined I would be a Mum one day. My desire to adopt began back when I was running Version 1.0. Back then, I never dreamed I would be acquiring a husband peripheral and figured I’d get my master’s and doctoral degrees sorted then I would get the child upgrades. And here I’ve upgraded to Version 3.0 and I don’t have the husband peripheral anymore – and I never did get the postgraduate and child upgrades. Part of me wonders if any of those upgrades will become available again, or if Frances 3.0 is so different from all of the earlier versions that those things will never fully be compatible.
As I watch my family and friends enjoy their own children, and plan for more, I feel a bit jealous at times. I wish I knew what my own future held for me – if there would be a family; if there would be children. As I grieve for Paul, I find myself grieving for the future we planned together, knowing that my future will never be that dream. There will be a future, certainly, and it may include children. Or it may not. Only time will tell. And who knows where I’ll be in another nine months… maybe working toward the postgraduate upgrades, maybe filling out paperwork for a kid upgrade… maybe my life will veer in some other, never before pondered, course. Like a lot of programs these days, Frances 3.0 is open-source and user-driven so I just need to determine what tweaks I want to make to the code…