Marrying An Older Man Meant Widowhood at 34

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young widow
A widow reflects on the death of her much older husband.

Things that had been so routine suddenly seemed strange and out of place. I began to doubt my abilities in the show ring. I was no different, but my life certainly was. The vultures came out of nowhere, and I had no one to watch my back. I had to keep telling myself that although my partner was gone, I was still the same person, I held the same knowledge, and my talents were still as great as ever. Yet a part of me was missing. It was hard to function as a whole person.

I had known for a year that his life was ebbing and he would be leaving me. I often thought of what would be worse: a knock at the door informing me that my husband had been killed in a car wreck or watching him slowly slip away, hour by hour, day after day?

I was with him when he took his last breath. I felt as though it was mine. One second he was there and the next he was gone. We had said all there was to say between two people in love. Sharing the good times and the sad times, we relived our entire married life within a few days. Then he was gone.

I missed hearing him in the barn, talking to the horses. I expected him to walk around the corner any second to ask me a question or ask for my help. Instead there was only silence. Day after lonely day...silence.

I no longer had the desire to go to the shows, let alone win. I questioned what would happen to me. I wanted to shrivel up and die with him. My life as I had known it was over.

My saving grace was running into the woman that had long ago warned me about what I was in for by marrying a much older man. She too had lost her husband. She had continued running their ranch after her husband's death. I figured that if she could make it, so could I. I asked her to tell me the steps in dealing with the pain and the emptiness. She shared her grieving process with me, advising me to continue my life as it had been before he died. It helped, but still the pain and numbness remained. Actress Blythe Danner on Love and Loss

Slowly, I dug into my horse business again, realizing that my late husband wouldn't be happy if I quit and walked away from what we had built. I started showing again...and winning. With each blue ribbon, I'd raise it in the ring as though showing it to my love. I could feel his approval and could picture that ice-melting smile.

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