Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”
Words are powerful. They represent culture, belief, and identity. Words can build and destroy. Their power is why governments ban books and silence truth tellers, and why we sometimes revere writers who wield the words that give us hope.
I can remember the first time someone referred to me as a widow. It was only a few days after Dan died and I was horrified. It was a gut punch. How dare they say that about me? How dare they say that to me? I wouldn’t even use the word. Hearing it was like fingernails on a chalkboard. That word meant Dan was gone. It meant I was alone. It meant I was married to a ghost. It meant my universe had imploded.
In the last year I have become more comfortable with the word widow. Well, maybe comfortable isn’t the right word, but it doesn’t make me cry to hear it or use it. Now I use it as a shield…one word that explains my story without my having to go into detail. Throwing widow into a conversation is like deflecting bullets off Wonder Woman’s bracelets. Kapow! Insert new topic or awkward silence. And sometimes I’m a bit snarky about it. Apologies to anyone who has been on the receiving end of that.
I recently referred to myself as “single” for the first time. Not a married to a dead guy widow, but single as in unattached. As soon as the word left my mouth I was stunned into silence (which my friends and family will assure you almost never happens). It just kind of hung in the air in a cartoon bubble. What does that mean? What does it mean that I just voluntarily described myself as single? Does it have to mean anything? Hell yeah it does. I just haven’t decided what.