When Gerry died I started to do research. Did other wives feel like I do now? Do others feel like they can't pick up the pieces? I met some women, other widows, who showed me how lucky I am.
My name is Asha. It means expectation, but as an Indian widow I have come to expect nothing. I was twenty two when I was married. It was an arranged marriage but I was lucky, and I grew to respect, and eventually love, my husband. We were married only five years when he was murdered. They stole his organs and left him for dead. They left four thousand rupee at our doorsteps, which is a little less than one hundred Australian dollars. I didn't keep their money. They left me four thousand rupee in exchange for my husband's life. As a result, they stole my life as well. In my culture, if you are widowed, you are condemned to a life of poverty and shame. I haven't enough money to support myself. When my husband died I lost my friends, and my family disowned me. People in my town look at me as though I am a leper. They believe I caused my husband's death. I am marginalised, excluded from the life I once lived. I am an Indian widow, a member of an invisible community.
Dalila, a Kenyan widow, has seven children. Her average income is one dollar a day. When her husband died, her family took their land and Dalila and her seven children lost their home. They moved to another village where they built a hut. Dalila sends her children to school at six am so that they will be able to walk the two miles to school and arrive before eight o'clock so as not to be beaten and sent home. Dalila works all day trying to earn the single dollar she gets to feed her children, so they don't go to bed hungry like they do too often. Dalila gets home at eight o'clock and starts a fire with the wood her children collected on their way home. She feeds them and sends them to bed. After sweeping and dusting Dalila falls asleep on the neatly stacked rags she calls her bed. She thinks about when her husband was alive. She thinks about how well off they were in comparison to others. How she used to enjoy cooking for her family. How life was not a burden. Dalila, a Kenyan widow, falls asleep, dreading her tomorrow.
I, Claire, am an army widow. I have a son, David, who I named after my late husband. He died in the war against terror. He was posted in Iraq. He was in a truck on his way back to the base when the truck rolled over a land mine and my husband's body was showered across foreign desert. At his funeral there was no coffin. There was no body. I didn't get to see my husband one last time. The weeks after David's death I lay in bed calling his mobile, listening to his answering machine. I looked at every picture I had of him. I read every letter he ever wrote me. I wore his clothes and sprayed his cologne just to feel his presence. I tried desperately to cling onto what I had left of my husband. When my son was born I felt numb. Then one day my son smiled, and he smiled the way David smiled, and he brought me back. I miss my husband every single day, but I can be strong, because I am surrounded by friends and family. An American widow can afford to grieve the loss of her husband.
She walks along the lonely road, reminiscing what once was. Where in the world the widow is, determines the life she now must live.