Last year I binge watched the first season of This is Us. Tim started it with me but eventually found it too intense. He kept asking me “do you know how the dad died yet?” He wanted to know, but he couldn’t handle the suspense.
A friend and I decided to get together at my house every Tuesday night to watch it this year. I knew what we were getting into. So did she. We were watching a show that is at its core about 3 kids whose dad dies, and how it affects their lives, going back and forth in time.
In the first episode of this season, Rebecca, the mother who lost her husband, talks to her adopted son, Randall, about how he (the husband, Jack) was the one to push for the adoption. “Sometimes in marriage, someone needs to be the one to push to make the big moves… and oftentimes in our marriage, yes, it was your father. Our marriage wasn’t perfect, it’s true. But none are. And your father wasn’t perfect either, but he was pretty damn close. As close as they come. He pushed this stranger on me and that stranger became my child, and that child became my life. He became you.” That’s how I feel especially when I remember those days in the hospital when I told him every day that even if I had known this would happen I wouldn’t change a thing… because I knew if he could talk to me, and knew what was going on that he would apologize. Unnecessarily, but he would have apologized. Because kids, 1, 2, 3… it was all him pushing. And now – they are my life.
In the Halloween episode this week, they cover when Rebecca’s first grandchild is born. After, she cries saying “That was one of the happiest moments of my life”and Randall asks her if they are happy tears, she nods, “but also your dad isn’t here. And that’s just something I’m going to have to deal with for the rest of my life – the happiest moments will also be a little sad.” It rung so true, because I remember thinking that exactly this summer, and I am pretty sure I said those exact words to my sister.
It was a tough moment watching that episode this week, it was so incredibly close to home. And I know it was for my friend who watched it with me. But I reminded her – we knew what we were getting into here.
When I watched the final episode of Season 1 last year, Tim had already gone to bed. There is a big fight scene between the two main characters, Jack and Rebecca, where Rebecca asks Jack what he loves about her and he can’t answer. In the morning, he wakes up and has a very moving speech before he leaves for his friend’s couch for some space. Tim and I had 3 kids. We didn’t devote as much time to each other, to our relationship, as either of us would have liked. I went up to bed after watching that episode and Tim rolled over to greet me when I climbed in so I said, “Tim, what do you love about me?” I couldn’t tell you honestly all the words he used at that moment, but I can say this: He did not hesitate to answer, and he listed many things.
It’s very hard to know who I am right now. I am many things. There are many things I am not. Someone asked me recently if I felt like I’m living a label. Last weekend, a fellow widow commented on not being the old her… and another reminded us that we are still the person that he loved.
It is incredibly powerful to remind myself that however lost I may feel right now, without that person who pushed me, however difficult it is to swallow that every joy in my life will be hand-in-hand with sadness… I am still the woman he loved.