Monday, February 11, 2008

Brace yourself

Unlike most people who find themselves without a partner at this time of year, I'm not all that bothered by Valentine's Day. P and I were of the "every day is Valentine's Day" school of thought: we did nice things for each other all year long, so there were no great expectations attached to that day in particular. We'd get each other cards and maybe a small gift, but neither of us could have cared less about diamond jewelry, long-stemmed roses and expensive restaurants.

The thing that's worrying me about V-Day is not that I'm going to be alone (in fact, I won't be alone, as G and I have plans to see The Spiderwick Chronicles that night), but that it's likely to lead to the dreaded situation where I have to tell someone who doesn't know it that P is dead. This is an ongoing problem at work, where we keep getting new people who see the family photos at my desk and assume, logically enough, that P is around. I can easily see myself having this conversation before the week is over:

Innocent Bystander: What are you and your husband doing for Valentine's Day?
Me: Well, actually, we're not doing anything because he died two years ago.
IB (shocked and embarrassed): OMG!

Or, there's this equally unpleasant option:

IB: What are you and your husband doing for Valentine's Day?
Me: Nothing.
IB (thinking that P must be a real jerk): Oh.

The last time I dropped the "he's dead" bomb on someone (I thought I'd slipped it into the conversation very casually, but apparently not), the poor woman I told was so mortified that I ended up feeling a lot worse for her than I did for myself. I can explain what happened pretty matter-of-factly at this point, just as I could discuss his illness in clinical terms when he was alive -- it's the way people look at me, as if they think I'm going to fall apart right in front of them, that makes it so awkward. I really don't want to go there again, but I'm not sure how to avoid it. Sometimes I wish you could still wear a black armband to signify that someone in your family had died. It would make things much easier.

3 comments:

Space Mom said...

How about, "My daughter and I are going out to dinner"?

Vanessa said...

I'll probably end up saying something along those lines, although it does still invite questions like "What about your husband?" I don't want anyone thinking he's some sort of insensitive creep, or worse, that we're divorced.

suedaz said...

love the armband idea-may have to steal that one!