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24-Mar-2018 14:02

The path that led me from wife to widow had been long, crooked, and painful.

I had spent the previous two years watching my husband fight, with grace and heartbreaking optimism, a rare and aggressive form of esophageal cancer.

One date was texting me regularly to make plans and tell me jokes, only to downgrade his correspondence to Facebook the more he learned about my past, then fade out completely.

He never conveyed the reason he bailed, but it was clear he wanted someone breezy and uncomplicated. In hindsight, I admit that wearing my wedding ring and discussing Frank may have signaled that I wasn't ready to move on.

But he also helped me understand how alien and incomprehensible my situation must seem to someone who has not lived with such a loss.

I've been dating for almost two years now--some guys lasted just one date, others for months at a time.

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In the year before Frank got sick, we'd gone through marriage counseling and even a trial separation, but there was never any question that I'd be there during his illness.

Maybe it's because so many guys have called me "courageous," but as soon as I utter the word "widow," I sense I'm being seen as a living saint and that my marriage was flawless, which of course isn't true.