When my beautiful husband, Ken, died from cancer two years ago, there was a sense that my protector, my champion, the person who loved me most in the world, was gone. That was pretty scary. But I’ve had some powerful healing thoughts recently. I’m currently reading a terrific book titled After This, by Claire Bidwell Smith. In her attempts to process the loss of her very loving mother, Claire writes:
“What I couldn’t understand for a long time was that she was still here. What I couldn’t understand was that I will always have an internal mother, one built out of her love for me, and out of the ways in which she taught me what nurturing looks like.”
Having been raised with severe child abuse, the internal mother that I formed and carried was not safe or nurturing. I went out into the world believing I was worthless, and I didn’t really care what anybody did to me; I didn’t have the sense of a right to expect any more. And then, when I was 20 years old, I met Ken Plummer. Ken saw quite different qualities, and I must have been young enough that some rewiring of my sense of self could still happen. I did my own work, because I knew I had to, but I didn’t realize until fairly recently just how much that blessed man’s love healed me. I could rewrite Claire’s words to say;
“What I couldn’t understand for a long time was that he was still here. What I couldn’t understand was that I will always have an internal Ken, one built out of his love for me, and out of the ways in which he taught me what my value looks like.”
I was Ken’s “Princess” – he called me that all the time – and one of the most wonderful things to come out of my bereavement is to understand the enduring gift that is thirty years – more than half my life – of being valued by Ken. It’s made me go into widowhood still being Ken’s Princess (his crotchety old Dowager Empress may be a more accurate description at times J) with respect to sticking up for myself, being okay in the world and not settling for any old shit. I feel almost cocky in the knowledge that Ken’s love and protection STILL backs and supports me; they are not gone, they remain and they shall be with me for always. There are things I know Ken would want/not want for me and I can believe it’s okay for me to want/not want them too.
Thank you, my darling man, my Ken. I get to live with the love, the high regard and care of my internalized Ken for the rest of my life. Yay!