My status as a “widowed fiancée” has been a great source of pain for me these last 4 years. Quite often I find myself angry at God for allowing me to have this added grief, this added loss and pain. My fiancé and I made the decision to wait until after he came home from Iraq to get married. We believed it was the right decision for us especially given the short notice of his deployment. There just wouldn’t have been enough time for everything.
While he was in Iraq, we made plans for our future, asked a dear friend of ours if he would marry us, started making plans for the wedding, rehearsal dinner…counting the days until his return.
On December 28th, my world came crashing down around me when my husband-to-be was killed. Our dreams, both my hopes and his for the future, would never be realized. The man to whom my heart and soul were knit was gone and the person that I was died along with him. I quickly realized that despite what I knew that Ernie and I meant to each other and the commitment that we had made, my loss would not be recognized as the loss of a widow.
In a world where infidelity is common, marriage is often no more than a piece of paper and commitment is less important than convenience, I couldn’t believe that all of a sudden those false marriages were given more respect than what Ernie and I had. I suppose it should restore my faith in man that the bond between a husband and wife was still seen as significant, but it truly just seemed like such hypocrisy. The loss of the woman who lost a husband that she did not love was seen as a great loss simply because he was her “husband”. The loss of the man that I loved with all my heart and soul and was committed to with a fierce devotion was given little thought or respect. For some reason I was to “get over it” much more quickly because we had not yet walked down an aisle. There was not yet a marriage license that legally recognized us as husband and wife. Those things were important to us, but it is not what bound us to each other. They only were only symbols of the covenant that we had made with each other and the Lord.
I was Ernie’s fist priority, his greatest love on this earth and yet I found my name mentioned after his parents, sister, grandparents and often his cousins. I was only another invitation to memorials that honored him and to some I was not included in at all. If there was only one person that could be there to represent him it should have been me….he would have wanted it to be me. It broke my heart every time.
The painful realization that I do not quite fit anywhere has not gotten easier. It still bothers me and pains me deeply, but I am trying to learn to make my peace with it. I cannot change others, nor can I change the circumstances, and nothing will change what I know in my heart to be true. I have been widowed by the man that was to be my husband. We were blessed to have had what most people only dream of.
Knowing that my own journey has been complicated by my widow “status”, I hope and pray that I can be of some support to other women who struggle with this unique grief. You are not alone.