There are some ugly words out there, some of them mean and cruel, racist epithets, hateful terms.  But there are a couple that I find the ugliest of all.

The first one is Cancer.  If you hear this word, no matter what you know or who it’s about, you immediately think DEATH.  Tell me you don’t automatically go there, no matter how many people you know who have beat it or are in remission.  In those first shocking seconds, that’s what makes you gasp!  From what I’ve read, it’s always there and it just gets a foothold on us when our immune system is down or we suffer a trauma or many other reasons.  And it never really goes away, even if you’re in remission for years.  You may never have another occurrence, but it is always hanging there.  If it’s active or recent, you live from scan to scan.  Even after the all clear, there has got to be a gulp before a doctor’s visit or every time you feel a twinge or ache.  It’s not a death sentence for all, thank goodness, but it’s still pretty devastating to hear it said.  I’ve lived through it with my husband and son, both of them gone because of the disease & the treatments, and with friends, some who lived through it, some who are still dealing with it and some who are now gone.  It’s just an ugly word.

The second ugliest word to me is Widow.  I looked it up and it’s been used since before the 12th century.  That’s what it feels like…archaic.  It comes from Middle English, Old English, Old High German and Latin variations of the word.  The Latin word, videre, means to separate.  I learned that widowhood is also called viduity.  That’s an obscure, strange term that sounds like…what does that sound like?  Anyway, widower doesn’t seem to have the same ugly sound to me.  Widowers are men, sad and lonely, who most often will find another woman as quickly as they can.  That’s kind of cold, but it’s very often, not always, true.  This doesn’t mean they didn’t love their wives, but it’s just a male thing.  I’m not making a blanket statement, just an observation.  There are always exceptions.

I don’t know what the label Widow does to most women, but I didn’t like it.  It’s a strange word to check on forms, an ugly word for a strange club you never wanted to join (as another widow friend of mine said).  Here’s what the word conjures up to me.


Now, tell me the truth.  Isn’t that the image that jumps to mind?  Some variation of this, at least.  Especially the wringing the handkerchief part.  At least this one isn’t wearing a black veil.  I’m not trying to be flip about it, because it is a painful, painful state of being at first.  Your heart is ripped apart, if you loved your husband, and you feel like you’ve been torn in two.  It’s not an easy thing and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.  I know people who have suffered through this at all ages, although I guess at some point as you get older, you suspect it will happen to you or your spouse.  Even then, it’s not easy and can still be a shock.  My parents were married over 50 years and my mother was devastated.  She was a strong woman, but this was her life.  Like all of life, everyone handles it differently, hence, the merry widow, the black widow, etc.

I don’t know where I’m going with this but it was on my mind since I’m marking 15 years of living with this label.  I still think of him every day, I still miss him, I can still hear his voice.  Mostly, I remember with love and humor and I’m lucky to see him in our children and grandchildren.  My life isn’t like I pictured it when I was young and in love.  It’s not even how I pictured it when I was turning 50, but it’s pretty darn good.  Maybe because I know how loved I’ve been all my life.  But, that crappy word.  What can we do about that?  Or would any word be just as bad?  Just ugly, ugly, ugly!