Comedian Patton Oswalt, who lost his wife last April, just announced his engagement. And the internet commenters are losing. their. shit. Not in congratulations and best wishes, but in judgement.
We all know the internet can be awful. And you should never, ever read the comments (except my own comments here. I always read those). But the backlash Patton has received is cruel and unfair. Judgment for living through the worst pain a human being can experience and then having the courage to risk it all over again. Judgement for being vulnerable and letting another person into his broken heart. Judgement for FALLING IN LOVE.
Commenters are saying everything from the obvious, “it’s too soon,” to the absurd, “Makes me suspicious of the unusual circumstances of her death” (Are you serious? We are implying he murdered his wife now??). People question the love he had for his late wife, his lack of independence, his abilities as a father.
All because he fell in love again.
And with all of this negativity and guilt and shame, it leads me to question, how will I be judged?
I would be lying if I said I never think about my future and the idea of possibly someday sharing my life with another person again. Because Brad taught me to love. Passionate, joyful, big fucking love. Love like that is a rare and beautiful gift and the most incredible feeling in the world. And because of the love I shared with Brad is the reason I know that I will one day be open to the idea of loving again. Because, frankly, that feeling is just too fucking good to give up on.
But all of those thoughts are quickly followed by the inevitable fear of judgement.
Because judgement seeps through every single day, whether we like it or not.
My choice to stay in Detroit. Judged. My decision to run away. Judged. Laying in bed and wallowing. Judged. Going out and having fun. Judged. Wearing my wedding ring. Judged. Debating taking it off. Judged. Sharing too much. Judged. Not sharing enough. Judged.
Ultimately I do believe that most of the judgement comes not from a place of malice, but from love: love and concern for me and love and respect for Brad.
But being a widow feels impossibly difficult sometimes. Like I am walking this tightrope and the whole world is watching to see if I fall or if I make it to the other side. Watching to see how I balance this new life. Strangers, friends, family, and even myself. All watching. All judging.
To be constantly aware of other people's perception of you is exhausting. But I’m quickly learning that if I worry too much about the judgement of everyone else, I would never make any decisions in life (and get judged for that too).
As my great friend, Jeremy regularly reminds me, "If you are comfortable with your actions and decisions, then fuck what everyone else thinks. They are adults and should be responsible for their own shit."
(Using "fuck" too much in my posts. Judged.)
Someday, I imagine I will start to date again. And I know there will be judgement on that too. (Although I can't even imagine the kind of man that is willing to take on the heavy, heavy baggage that comes with dating a 34 year old, cancer surviving widow. Good luck, dude).
But loving Brad is a reminder of everything good that comes with connecting and trusting and sharing your vulnerabilities with another person. And losing Brad is a constant reminder of how short and how fragile life really is.
So whenever that days comes - and it won't come without hurdles and hardships - I hope I will be open to it. I hope I will not let the fear of judgement prevent me from embracing the potential to love again.
And I hope I won't be judged for that too.