For those of you curious about The Bad Widow's Handbook, I thought I'd post a little piece from what I've written so far. I'm almost halfway there (22,966 words as of right now) and it's finally taking some shape!
Anyway, thanks for all the encouragement I've received from everyone. Hope you enjoy!
There should really be some sort of course you have to take before becoming widowed.
They have them for driving cars and doing taxes, so why not dealing with death?
Most of us are woefully unprepared and, sadly, do not realize it until it’s way too late. By the time you get around to trying to figure out what in the heck you are supposed to be doing, it’s been over a year and you are still climbing into bed with dirty laundry at night and putting your keys away in the fridge when you come home after work.
There should be tests you need to pass before they let you go back to work or re-enter society to prevent you from doing crazy things like sobbing in the middle of the candy aisle at the grocery store and driving around all night without headlights on while belting out Christmas carols through the driver’s side window in the middle of April.
You should have to wear some sort of t-shirt or nametag or flashing neon sign that identifies you just like a new driver sticker on the back of a bumper. On second thought, there should be one on the back of your bumper too. The way I figure it, the rest of the world should be given the heads up for both your benefit and theirs. It could read something like:
Warning: Newly widowed. May randomly burst into tears at inopportune moments completely unprovoked.
Hello, my name is Widowed, please do not become alarmed if I randomly hug you.
Beware of widow. Batshit crazy.
It would neatly take care of the problem of people having no clue what is going on with you and, as a result, giving you strange looks in public for blubbering on park benches while eating three cheeseburgers and wiping snot across your sleeve. It would also lessen the burden of having to explain, between gulping sobs, why you are wearing two wedding bands, only one shoe, and a sweater spotted with unidentifiable stains reeking of cologne.
There should be little flashcards with tips on what to say that you can hand out to family and friends during awkward moments like when your five-year old nephew loudly questions whether he will see Uncle Craig at Christmas this year or when you announce at work you will be dealing with “death stuff” for the weekend but that they should definitely enjoy the sunshine.
A widow license declaring your current status would sure speed things along when you get pulled over by the cops for sitting in the middle of an intersection sobbing uncontrollably while traffic is forced to re-route around you or when you have to go pick up your husband’s ashes from the funeral home and nobody believes you that you are his wife and not his daughter.
Much like the home security systems that put the little sticker up on your front window, you should be able to get one that warns there is a widow residing within. The pizza man might stop making remarks about how often you order and the mailman could finally begin to understand why there always seems to be promotional envelopes for pickup with “sorry, dead” scribbled viciously over your husband’s name along with “return to f*cking sender.” Maybe then your neighbours might feel sorry for you and offer to cut your lawn instead of just sitting there drinking lemonade while you stumble about for hours wrapped in lawn mower cords and grass clippings, screaming obscenities at the heavens and cursing your husband’s name for never teaching you how to turn the damn thing on.
Along with the visit to your office to tell you your husband won’t be coming home, the cops could provide an automatic key finder so instead of searching every corner of the house before finally happening upon them when reaching for the bottle of wine you keep on hand, you could just head straight for the fridge (or your pair of winter boots or recycling bin or couch cushion) where you left them last thanks to the incessant beeping they now make. They could supply you with a handy dandy checklist on what happens next and how to do stupid things you never imagined you’d have to like putting windshield washer fluid in your car, killing spiders, or picking out music for your husband’s funeral that somehow exemplifies his life without resorting to gangsta rap.
You should be assigned a 24-7 friend/confidante/babysitter/ass-wiper who can come over to clean your toilet for you, make sure you eat something other than pickles, and listen to your insane rantings at 3 a.m. Preferably someone who will look the other way when you don’t shower for a week or eat ravioli straight out of the can while sitting on an entire box of crushed Cheerios scattered across the kitchen floor. Their primary responsible would be the procurement of hot beverages for comfort and alcoholic beverages for, well, also comfort. They’d help you track down that one stupid photo of your husband where he’s actually looking into the camera and smiling from last year’s Christmas party to be blown up for the obituary and would fill in the endless mounds of paperwork that you’ll need to submit to the government so they can tell you that you are too young to qualify for widowhood and receive the normal death benefits that accompany such a status. They could make sure you wear clean clothes on occasion and act as a bodyguard to protect you from the nosey neighbours who accost you every time you go to the mailbox, demanding to know whose car it was parked near your house the day before. They could write thank-you cards for the funeral and negotiate with insurance companies and reassure you daily that you are not crazy, despite the mountain of evidence to the contrary.
And much like any other professional certification these days, you should get little gold stars and letters after your name for managing to continue to earn a paycheque despite now having the attention span of a two year old, for remembering to pay your bills even though they are trivial and stupid in comparison to your new life, and for somehow managing not to smack others in the face for rather insensitive comments like, "Must be nice to finally be single!"
For some reason, nobody has ever bothered to do this sort of stuff, despite the growing market for death thanks to drunk drivers, homicidal maniacs, and idiots who fall asleep at the wheel.
I’m going to write a letter to the government to get this going.
Just as soon as I climb out of bed.
Later this afternoon.