I’m a junior in college, and am an only child. My mom and I talk regularly, almost every day—it was just the two of us for most of my life, so we’re closer than most of my friends are to their parents. Before she married my father, my mom’s first husband, a Marine, was killed in combat. She was married to my father for five years until he died of a heart attack when I was 4. However, he was not only 10 years her senior (she had me at 38) and overweight but had a family history of heart issues—his doctors said it was unlikely but not unexpected. Three years ago, she remarried to a man who she had dated for the past two years. He was an avid motorcyclist, and rode almost everywhere, but it was still a horrible shock when we learned he’d been killed in an accident. It’s been a year since his death, and my mother has sunk into … not depression, but a conviction that she is a “black widow.”
A male acquaintance of hers recently reached out and asked if she wanted to have a picnic with her; she cried to me that she “had” to turn him down. Even though she is still grieving, she refuses to get close to him—just as a friend—because “one day even that could kill him.” I’m not only missing my stepfather, but I’m also concerned for my mother. Other family members have made comments about her husband’s passing away. My paternal grandmother even said that while some women are serial brides, my mother “is becoming a serial widow.” I currently have to placate my mother, defend her to the families of both my stepfather and my father, and also work an internship and a job. Please give me some advice on how to balance all of this! I don’t believe for a second that my mother is a cursed widow, but everyone in my life (including her!) believes otherwise.
— Not the Spider’s Daughter