Last weekend I was at my friends' annual St. Patty's Day party. As usual, there was the best traditional Irish corned beef, cabbage and all the fixings. Yummy homemade desserts: mint chocolate brownies, green cream filled cream puffs and key lime pie. Of course the usual Irish martinis were served. Over the last few years, the party-goers have been a variety of people from work (ones who have become friends) and neighbors. I have know some of these people for many years and some are new to me and only know me through this annual event. Much good cheer and laughter filled the evening. At one point, I realize that I am the only "single" there; everyone else is a couple. It is a moment of sadness and I am struck by the presence of Jim's absence, as he had attended these parties in the past. As I listen to the conversations, I know that I have been excluded from some of the social events of the different combinations of the group. It's one of the things about which new widows are warned. I don't know what this phenomena is, but I am acutely aware of it in the moment. Somehow the "extra" is not included in the "couples" events. It feels strange and sad. There is much "let's get together for lunch soon" with the "girls". Almost never is there a dinner invitation, unless the "extra" initiates it, or you have dinner with another "extra" woman. Why is this? Deep seeded social norms? One widow had a theory that it was the fear; fear of the "extra" taking away another's husband. I don't buy that. But I really don't understand this phenomena. Do the even numbers make everyone feel more comfortable? The "extra" makes the "odd" number, which somehow makes the "evens" uncomfortable? Could it possibly just boil down to math and that human nature just makes us feel more comfortable with "evens"?
This is not the first time I have felt and experienced this and I certainly don't want my dear St. Patty's party friends to think they did something "wrong". After all, if I were brave enough, I'd say something. I just don't know how. My dear step-mother told me after my father died, "Let's face it; it's a couple's world." At the time, I thought that was true for her generation. Turns out its true for mine, too.
My grief counselor says that we have to teach people how to be with us, what to say to us. She's right. We sometimes practice how to word these thing in our group. I encourage others, but haven't figured out how to do it myself with my friends.
So "evens", what's the deal? Anybody out there have a reason for this phenomena? Are widows really that scary?