I'm a Widow

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Charity Balona and her late husband, David.

The loss of her father and husband in quick succession have Charity Balona struggling to manage a lot of love that now has no where to go.

I have two identical black cats now. Michi and Kikiboo. One, I’m not sure which, bounds across the kitchen and I think, how did I end up with two? But as a new widow, I have a motto: I’m a widow. So I can do whatever I want. I’ll open a bottle of wine at 3 pm. And buy myself some stylish new boots without looking at the price tag. And I can adopt as many cats as I want.

At 38, with a toddler and two lovely teenage stepdaughters, I didn’t expect to become a widow. And I feel more like an alien who just landed on this strange planet, than anything else. I also didn’t expect to lose my father to brain cancer, sit by his side as his body and mind withered away. Sit by his side as he shared his plans for a trip to Antarctica, among other other-worldly things, and hold his hand, baby Juniper strapped to my chest, as he left on that final expedition.

And I certainly didn’t expect the eerily similar decline of my husband, the love of my life, to cancer, seven months later, our baby daughter soundly asleep next to him, as he took his final breath and transitioned to his next life.

So on this strange new planet in this new life, the life after my father and after my husband, the life after my step daughters moved in with their mom leaving empty bedrooms and dressers full of clothes, I’ve been learning about grief. And it isn’t easy. Even an alien could tell you that.


Grief, according to author Jamie Anderson, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, that hollow part of your chest. Grief, she says, is just love with no place to go.

A few weeks ago I awoke to my husband’s cat Cid dragging his back half across the floor. He could no longer walk, and I knew Juniper and I were back at that goodbye place again. One less earthly vessel for our love leaving for another plane of reality, another planet maybe, moving across town or maybe to Antarctica but certainly never coming back. And where would our love go now? Michi and Kikiboo, that’s where.

I’m a widow and I’ll adopt as many cats as I want.

With a Perspective, I’m Charity Balona.

Charity Balona is an educator in Oakland.