As you may have guessed, I’m pretty fond of the man I married. Crazy about him even. This does not, however, prevent me from engaging in an enjoyable pastime shared by many married folk: The “what I would do if you were dead” conversations.
I blame quite a bit of this morbid curiosity on the insurance industry. At a certain point in your “grown-up life,” if you have bought into the whole notion of “responsibility,” you have probably purchased just enough life insurance to realize that you are worth more dead than alive.
You try not to think about it, but still, the truth is there. If you should die before you wake, your survivors could easily afford a new car, a cruise and a nubile young Swedish au pair.
Thus come cheery little chats where we share with our better halves how we think it would all go down if they were to, say, step in front of a bus.
Sure there would be the mind-numbing grief, the wailing, the gnashing of teeth and the horror of it all. We don’t get into that. THAT is not cheery dinner party repartee.
No. We stick to the “after the fallout” time. This is when you discuss if and when the surviving spouse would date again and possibly even remarry.
As a rule, my female friends insist they would want their surviving spouse to “go on” and “be happy.” This, we feel, would best be accomplished if he went on and was happy with someone who was exceedingly sweet, kind to children, gentle with puppies and not nearly as pretty as we were. That last one is the only one that is not negotiable.
I, being of selfish mind and sound body, feel differently. I would prefer nice pining on his part. Preferably of two or three decades — give or take. He can remarry when he’s 90. That’s my motto.
Males, it might be noted, are not nearly as picky. With the exception of one husband who made this proposed post-humus deed restriction: his replacement should not be allowed to drive his truck.
“I’ve put a lot of time in that truck.”
We’ll leave you to ponder the wisdom of mentally marrying off your wife with nary a blink, while worrying about who might put his hands on your steering wheel.
Me, I am absolutely convinced that should anything happen to Mr. Wonderful (knock wood, spit on the ground), I would die alone — and probably no more than three days later.
It’s no big secret that I would be but a shadow of my former self if Mr. Wonderful weren’t here to prevent me doing great harm to myself. I’m prone to being a professional-level klutz (don’t try this at home!) and just in general bumbling through life with a sort of “will think for food” mindset.
This, you may gather, is not really conducive to long-term health — emotional, financial or otherwise.
Of course, Mr. Wonderful is not without fault, and his is that he thought it the height of hilarity to hypothesize that, should I perish, he could see replacing me with, and I quote, “two 20-year olds.”
Such a funny, funny man. Won’t he be a nice catch? I hear women really dig a guy with a sense of humor — and the vengeful ghost of a deceased wife haunting his every moment.
In truth, these gloomy games of “what if” are the kinds of conversations we have to chase away the bogeyman of reality. I call them “umbrella chats.” You carry an umbrella in case it rains and Murphy’s Law dictates that it never does.
So we speak, however lightly, about the unthinkable because to ignore it makes it somehow more real. To discuss it makes lost love somehow lighthearted and long-off. Not to mention making the horror of having to date again somehow less frightening.
I don’t know of a single happily married person of any age who looks with any real fondness on the specter of dating again. Dating? Isn’t that the hazing ritual you put behind you just as soon as you were safely married?
All the “will she” or “won’t he?” Do — or don’t — call me and I will — or won’t — call you?
Forget about it! I cannot fathom how a widow or widower with children has the time to date. How do you meet new romantic prospects when you are picking up the pieces and the kids at soccer practice simultaneously?
Heck, my husband and I barely find time to date now — and I already have his phone number.
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