For most of my adult life, I’ve had a husband. I moved out at 20 on my wedding day and lived with my husband Chris until he died… eight years and two weeks later. “Husband’ started out as a word I’d only used to describe other people’s families, but now it described the man I loved and shared a home with. Husband or “hubby” referred to Chris, my most favorite human. As weeks and months passed, the words were normalized in my mind as endearing terms for the person I was sure I’d spend my life beside.
(J Fortune Photography, 2012)
Then it happened in the blink of an eye on a summer’s night… my husband was no longer living. I was a widow. Marriage and the partnership it entailed were my norm. I didn’t fully know how to function as an adult without Chris as my teammate. I continued to wear my rings (and his, on my thumb) for several months. My husband had left us, left me, but not by choice. Nonetheless, I felt abandoned.
(Age 20 at Bennie's in Marion, the week before our wedding)
The proper term for Chris was now “late husband” but it felt strange to use those descriptors. He’d not ceased to be my husband; he wasn’t an ex. The only reason he wasn’t there was because a car wreck had taken his life. I still carried (and carry) just as much love for him as ever—but it could no longer be reciprocated. I would find myself on many occasions speaking to people I didn’t know or new acquaintances. We would get talking and something would remind me of a related experience. I would happen to mention “my husband” and then would come the awkward explanations from me that he had died. They would feel sad and weird and then I would wish I hadn’t even mentioned him at all. Finally, I accepted use of the term “late husband” which required no explanation to many people, making it simpler.
I spent the longest time thinking I would never have a husband again.
In 2016 I went on a couple dates with someone who ended up being a weirdo. I didn’t pursue it past two weeks. In 2017 I started dating someone and saw him for the better part of a year. We had gotten to a point of talking about marriage and what kind of life adjustments would need to happen for that to take place. A couple weeks later he ended it. Though it was incredibly painful at the time, I now know that the Lord was rescuing me from a less-than-ideal situation.
I fell into a deep depression and decided I never wanted to risk heartache again. I was choosing to be “alone forever” because I thought that would protect my heart, and those belonging to my daughters. Early in 2018, my friend Jenny set me up with Don despite much anxiety on my part. He and I dated and fell in love. I saw light at the end of the loneliness tunnel. I saw a potentially great husband and a definite amazing dad.
Don and I were blessed to have each other, and we married on October 5, 2019. After five years without a living husband, I had been gifted another. At church a couple weeks later, a woman I know said something about “your husband” and my brain automatically thought she meant Chris. The concept of that word in association with Don hadn’t been fully connected yet, I guess. It took me by surprise that I could be confused, because I had been proudly referring to Don as my husband any time I got the chance.
As with any major change, it takes time to adjust. It takes time to make the practical adjustments such as clearing a closet or moving furniture, but the mind has to adjust as well. In the conversation at church, I realized my mistake and explained myself. I said something to the effect of “I have two husbands”. It’s a strange concept and one that many people will not have to understand personally, but it’s also my reality. Chris is the husband of my youth and the father to my babies. Don is the husband of my 30’s and the father to my school-age children—and I hope and pray, the one I get to grow old with.
(Artwork given to us as a wedding gift)
Husband. It’s a beautiful word for me because I’ve been blessed to have two of the best men in my life.