Today’s post – The widow wore a little black dress is a continuation from last week’s post, which you may want to read if you haven’t already.
For any new readers, welcome, you might want to catch up by starting here instead.
Nick was gone, his body laying in a funeral home somewhere, I was alone, yet surrounded by people. Cards flooded my mailbox, my phone was full of text messages, sending their condolences and asking about funeral times. The house was filled with flowers arrangements, which are meant to cheer you up, but ironically, don’t.
These were all just reminders that Nick was dead.
He had passed on Saturday morning, but arrangements were made that the funeral was to be held on the Wednesday with a viewing and prayer service the night before, at the same church.
I had more people visit me after his death, than we ever did when he was sick. It used to annoy Nick, that people stayed away once they heard he had cancer, like it was catchy. We had been such a social couple before his diagnosis.
Truth was, it was hard for many of his family and friends to see him this way, the once fit, confident guy they knew, was replaced by this thin, raspy voiced version instead, who walked with a slight limp.
His cancer transformation was huge and sudden.
Sometimes when we had visitors over, they wouldn’t know what to say, we always talked so openly about Nick’s condition and I guess it freaked them out. Especially when he would talk to them about having adequate life insurance and health checks!
When they’d leave, we’d chat and Nick would say to me, ‘you know what, they are driving home now and they are grateful this is happening to us and not them and that’s ok, because we can handle this.‘ I’d get mad and say ‘it’s not ok to think that way,’ but always so wise, he tell me, ‘it shows them to appreciate life, that no one is invincible and that’s all I want.’ (Hence this blog!)
I knew I had his viewing and funeral coming up, and while I had joked to my family about wearing something bright (read this if you want to know why this was a no!) I knew i’d have to at least wear black to these two occasions.
Funnily enough, 4 weeks before Nick died, we had been shopping after a chemo session, when he was drawn to a black dress in a shop window. Now, Nick hated me in black, but this dress was something he kept trying to convince me I needed.
It was a cute black mini dress and it fit perfectly, but I kept telling him I didn’t want it, I had nowhere to wear it and it was a little pricey!
Nick had a thing for me wearing anything short and tight, (one of his first gifts to me were a tiny pair of shorts, which i’ve never worn!).
He wouldn’t take no for an answer, running (or walking as quick as he could with his limp) to the counter to pay for the dress once I took it off!
He told me i’d wear it to our 6th anniversary wedding dinner and he hinted, ‘you’ll wear it to my funeral and be a hot widow‘.
So, the time came for his viewing and funeral, and I knew I had at least one black dress to wear, but I couldn’t wear the same thing to both. So off shopping I went, two days before the funeral.
I remember being in a store with my sister and our kids, looking at dresses, needing something conservative and in black. The shop assistant started to ask questions, ‘was it for an interview?’, ‘no a funeral’, I said, ‘my husband’s.’
Then the obligatory look of part shock, embarrassment and sympathy, as she looked from me, to the baby in the pram and bam, ladies that’s how you get 20% off your purchase!!
On the day of the viewing I tried on Nick’s black dress with some heels, wanting to wear it that night, only to have my mum freak out that, ‘it’s too short, you can’t wear that!’
Apparently, the hot widow look wasn’t in that season.
I was being a little defiant, Nick had bought this for me to wear for this occasion, I didn’t want another dress, I was wearing this one.
We decided to take the hem taken down instead as a compromise, which took away the look of the dress, but I got to wear it. Win for me!
To this day though, I have shoved both black dresses to the back of my cupboards, they are just a reminder of that week, the struggle, the tears and losing Nick forever.
Has anyone else not been able to wear their ‘funeral clothes’ again?
Back to the story, it was the night of the viewing and I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t really had time to grieve yet, too busy organising and black dress shopping, plus the enormity of what had happened, hadn’t really hit me yet.
I was too busy making sure everyone else was ok and that my daughter wasn’t effected by what was happening, though at 13 months, I doubt she knew why everyone was crying around her.
I went with my family to the church to farewell Nick for the final time. Many people had called me during the day to say they wouldn’t be coming. They wanted to preserve their memories of Nick instead, couldn’t bear the thought of seeing him laid out in a coffin.
Well, either could I, but apparently, I had to go!
I had collected some of his things to add to his casket including a picture of him and our daughter, Claudia, a letter from me, one of his favourite watches (he collected them), and his g-star man bag, that he went nowhere without, using it to carry all his medication with him, it had became the butt of many jokes.
On a side note, I had emptied out his bag, ready to take to the viewing, when on the way there I noticed a secret compartment I’d missed, in it was $500 and the keys to our shed!
I still laugh that I almost buried him with all that, but, I think it was Nick who made me check it over again!!
His parents also had their own things to add as did mine and a few of his friends too.
I joked at the time, that they’d be no room left for Nick, it’s amazing how much stuff you can cram down the sides of a casket.
But my jokes were not appreciated, I was shushed.
But, making inappropriate comments is my coping mechanism, it’s what I do!
I remember being ushered up to see Nick laid out in his coffin at the alter. I carried my daughter with me. I looked at him, but it wasn’t him, it didn’t look like Nick at all. I felt very disconnected with this body in the casket.
Everyone was watching me, I stood there for what felt like forever, looking down at this shrunken version of Nick, not knowing what to do. I couldn’t cry, the tears weren’t there, I took his hand in mine, but he was so cold and stiff. I bent down and gave him a kiss on his forehead, whispered I love you and took my place back again with my family.
They asked if I wanted to go up again to see him, I shook my head, no I was done. I couldn’t look at him like that anymore.
Nick’s family were clawing at him, screaming incoherently, I wondered what people thought of me, not reacting the same.
Staying calm, feigning a smile, making inappropriate jokes. I didn’t know how else to be, it all felt like it was happening to someone else and I was on the outside looking in.
I felt like Nick was sitting up in the church rafters looking down at everyone carrying on, telling them ‘you’re nowhere’, one of his sayings.
I looked up often that night, perhaps hoping to catch a glimpse of him. All I wanted was for Nick to be there, sitting besides me, joking about everyone going up to see him in the casket, making me laugh.
But, he wasn’t there, it was just me, sitting on a church pew, feeling so heart broken.
I’ll leave it for there today, thanks for reading along and sharing my posts, means so much that people are reading our story.
Thanks also for all your comments, I love hearing from you.
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Til next week, Michela xx
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