She appeared in public without her wedding ring.
Immediately, people began to talk "It's too soon." "She got over him quickly." "Is she dating already?"
I shook my head and poured in to the Bible where I read: "You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. If you afflict him at all and he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; and my anger will be kindled..." (Exodus 22:22-24a)
I have never met a widow (or widower) who expected to become one. We don't get up one day and say "I think I'd make a great widow, I have a lot of little black dresses, and I think I can handle this house on my own." The situation is thrust upon you, and even those who lose their spouses due to a lingering disease hold out hope that widowhood will be forestalled for a long while.
We aren't taken to a back room and told how to prepare. In the days of the civil war, there were rules to these things. But even then, life dictated that the strict rules bend. When the war began, social mores indicated that men were to mourn for six months, and then they were expected to quickly marry. Women mourned for a year for a spouse, and were even in partial mourning for the spouse of a widower they married for a year after the death. These rules relaxed as the war dragged on, and in one town, the mayor actually asked that women quit wearing their mourning clothing, as the entire town seemed to be cloaked in black.
In modern times, many of us don't even wear black to our spouse's funeral. In my case, I didn't even hold a "funeral", I held a "celebration of life," because that is what Layne would have wanted. A celebration of the man he was.
A good friend who I met through our Carepages, became a widower shortly after I was widowed. He is an amazing man, who cared faithfully for his wife, who succumbed to cancer. He stepped in to be a mom when his wife could not be one to his daughters, and he was a servant to his wife, whose needs were numerous. I recognized the progression in the photos, as she moved from walking and getting about to a wheelchair, his eyes began to have dark bags and his expression, though outwardly smiling, held a shadow of sadness.
Within three months of the death of the woman to whom he had pledged his life, with whom he had brought children into the world, built a life, and worked in the world of missions, he met another Christian woman. He put a ring on her finger and brought her home, where the children welcomed her, and she became their new mom. I'm sure people talked. I'm sure they thought it was "too soon"...but there is no denying the life that this new spouse has brought to my friend's life.
The circles beneath his eyes are gone. There is excitement in his reporting of daily events. The children are growing into lovely young ladies...and there is happiness. Does he love his former wife any less? No. Love that deep never goes away. And now a second woman is blessed to have a husband who she is certain will love her through it all, till death they do part. They shot family portraits recently...and this shot of "togetherness" I think, speaks volumes.
And yet, tongues and heads will wag, I'm sure.
But my friend was not given a rule book stating he had to remain a widower and alone for a certain amount of time. God did not say to him, "You must be sad for longer." God sent him a help meet...and he is grateful for that gift.
If they fall down and struggle, I would hope that instead of saying "I told you so" that his friends and the church would say " there, but by the grace of God go I," and extend a hand to lift them both up.
So Kathy Lee Gifford has removed her ring. It's a ring...while a symbol of a relationship that she saw through to the end, it is not her husband. She did not choose for him to be taken from her life. Her husband will remain in her heart forever, I would imagine. The shared memories that meant so much are now housed only in her mind...she is the lone keeper of all they shared intimately. It would be so wrong to deny her any act of healing that she needs to embark upon life alone. We will never know the strength it took to remove those rings, or the tears that fell as she did so.
It is not necessary to "afflict her" with our second guessing, gossip or sideways glances.
As I said to all who didn't like how I "did" widowhood...when your chance comes, I pray you do it better than I. It has been the hardest thing I've ever done in my life.