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I’ll be widowed for 7 years this coming July.  It’s definitely gotten easier to be on my own than it was at the beginning.  After all, we were married for more than 4 decades.  And we got married when we were just 22.  I never even lived in an apartment by myself.  I went from a women’s dorm as a graduate student to an apartment when we were married. My husband and I did everything together, so, in over 40 years,  I never went to the movies or the theater by myself.  I did work and occasionally had to make business trips, so I did have the experience of being on my own for hotel stays, dinners, airplane trips, but business trips are different.  Besides, I could always call my husband whenever I felt lonely.

The biggest challenge of being a widow is being on your own.  Always.  Even with close family.  Even with good friends. Even with almost 7 years of this new normal, it’s difficult.

As Eponine despondently sings in “Les Miserables”:

“Without him
The world around me changes
The trees are bare and everywhere
The streets are full of strangers”

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In the bereavement group I attended after my husband’s death, one of the dozen or so women in the group had never carried her own suitcase or pumped gas into her car.  While the group was meeting she confessed to being extremely nervous about taking a trip that required both handling her own suitcase and pumping gas.

I was certainly more self-sufficient than she was but when it came time for me to buy my coop apartment, I realized that this would be a massive new effort on my own.

I was flanked at the closing by my real estate attorney and my sales broker and confronting countless documents that would legally bind my fate to a New York City apartment.  In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that my husband was an attorney, so I could always count on him to thoroughly read all legal documents.  He told me on several occasions that “reading something very carefully, no matter how turgid the writing, was extremely important”.  Trust me when I say that I read the proprietary lease, contract of sale, rider to the contract and countless other documents as carefully as I could until my head swam.

I can only say that it was a daunting experience, but like so much else, I was able to get through it and, after it was over and I was handed the apartment keys, felt pretty good.   As they say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.