Six Women Dine at Scottsdale Restaurant

 June 25, 2011

 

This headline would hardly raise eyebrows or make the news. Six women meeting on a Friday evening at an upscale Scottsdale café should have been filmed for a documentary or at least portrayed on a reality show. These women are real people who are often misunderstood by others who haven’t experienced the aftermath of widowhood.

 

The dinner was scheduled for 6:30 p.m. I don’t usually partake in these types of events. I’d rather hide from them, as one would dodge any pain that hurts like hell and brings back memories of what was and what might have been. Though the daily discomfort of grief isn’t completely visible in one’s psyche, it’s always underlying somewhere; in a photo, in a memory, on a piece of paper, in the feel of a pair of shorts, or in the lyrics of a song.

 

These thoughts are the aftermath of an insightful dinner with women drawn to each other because of a common bond — a tragic ending to their marriage. Of the six, two of us lost our husbands to esophageal cancer, one to lung cancer, another from a surgical mishap, one to an aneurysm, and one lives with the haunting memory of finding her husband body after he put a barrel of a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.

 

We take turns sharing stories about the man we loved. Stories about the cruelness of others, like the friend that said, “Your husband must have been so unhappy in his marriage that he ended it by shooting himself.”

 

We talk about our children having to lead their lives and not stay in a cesspool of grief gasping for air alongside their mothers. We discuss how most of them were beginning their lives; having babies and looking forward to the future.

 

One of the women turned to another and said, “I heard you were dating.”

 

“Yes, I’ve been dating men for a couple of months,” she replied. “It’s nice to go to dinner or the theater. My husband would want me to go out and have fun,” she said as if having to defend her opinion.

 

“I could never date,” two of the women chimed in as if they were singing a duet. Another woman said, “I think my husband would be offended if I saw other men. He would think I didn’t care about him any longer.”

 

“What did it feel like when you went on your first date,” another woman asked.

 

“What about the first kiss?” another chimed in. “What was that like?”

 

The dating woman smiled and said, “It was awkward at first. Holding hands felt odd and was difficult for me. But the first time I kissed another man it was magical, like when I was a teenager. As time went on, I became comfortable with men that understood my grief; the patient ones, the ones who weren’t bitter about their own divorce or jealous of a dead man.”

 

“I suppose,” she continued slowly and paused for a moment. She looked across the table at five pairs of eyes awaiting her response. She needed to phrase her answer with a great deal of thought. “I am not the same person I was when I was married. Like all of you, we are now struggling to comprehend a life absent of the partnership that had sustained and defined us for years. Dating allows me to find out about my new self, who I am now and what I need in the future.”

 

The six women held their utensils in their hand as if frozen with thought. Their mouths were no longer chewing food. They looked pensive as though they were thinking about men, sex, intimacy and their lost loves. They finished the meal by sharing their anguish of loss, their nightmares of “death duty” and the solace of their friendships with each other.

 

As they stood outside saying their “goodbyes” they paired up for hugs, as women tend to do, but they also allowed their tears to escape as they blotted the damp skin around their eyes with their fingertips. They weren’t embarrassed to cry in front of one another — they had done this many times before.

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About TRatner

Terry Ratner is a freelance writer, registered nurse, and writing instructor in Phoenix, Arizona. In June of 2004, she graduated with a Master of Fine Arts degree in creative nonfiction from Antioch University, Los Angeles. Writing has always served a purpose in her life, but it wasn't until her son died in a motorcycle accident in March, 1999, that she began to publish her works. What's unique about Terry is the way she balances the life of a nurse with the life of a writer. "Nursing allows me to give back to the community and then write about those experiences." Ratner teaches creative writing in a variety of settings from community colleges to a school for homeless children (Thomas J. Pappas) to wellness communities throughout the Valley of the Sun. In 2004, Terry launched an Arts and Healing program for children undergoing dialysis at Banner Good Samaritan Medical Center. She has published numerous personal essays, cover stories, interviews, and book reviews for a variety of national and regional publications. Her manuscript, a work in progress, features a series of twelve essays, ten of which are introduced with black and white photos, dealing with issues of family and identity.
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3 Responses to Six Women Dine at Scottsdale Restaurant

  1. tracy poulos says:

    Dear Terry,

    Beautiful…. very nice and well written , most important it speaks our new reality, our new normal,
    and I think you should e mail it to the group …

    love you
    Tracy

  2. Connie Forbister says:

    Everyone is different and everyone is the same. I believe that grief comes and there’s absolutely no way to avoid it. You can prolong it, hide from it, deny it, but it will stay until it’s done. When it’s done, the memories will still be there but they won’t smack you in the head like they do, when you’re going through it. Loved the blog. Love Terry’s writing.

  3. Nicki says:

    Terry,

    Wonderfully written! I think moving on can be such a taboo for those left behind. I know I am not the same woman I was when I was married. In fact, I actually think I am a better person now (if that’s even possible after being widowed; let alone at such a young age). However, as I find myself in the – gasp! – dating world again, I have the same needs I had (that were satisfied) when I was happily married. Love, companionship, intimacy, a best friend, someone to do things with, someone to talk to, someone to always be there for me, etc. Unfortunately, thus far, I have not been able to satisfy those needs. What kind of person am I to have these yearnings after such a tragedy of losing my husband? I have asked myself so many times. All I could come up with as an answer is: my late husband’s undying love & actions towards me were like a drug, and now that I don’t have them, I’m going through withdraws. 2 years is a long time without a fix. I can’t stress over it anymore though. It have faith it will come in time, I have to be patient, and I need to focus my energy on other things.

    Love,
    Nicki

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