Cactus Alley (Volume #17) (Natalie Taylor) pdf, epub, doc

Any time I meet someone new, at some point he or she discovers that I am a mom and I do not wear a wedding ring. No matter what else I have to offer to the world, this image of having a child and no wedding ring still startles people. "I'm a single mom," I say. Usually I get a really lighthearted, "Oh!" An "Oh" that is said with this really nice ring to it where as the speaker of the "Oh" is trying to impress upon me that they are not judging me. They are completely accepting of me and my baby-mama-ness. They are okay with these things. They are forward-thinking, open-minded people.

Eventually they ask something like, "Well does your son have a relationship with his father," or "Does his dad help you out at all?" And then I have to say, "Actually, I'm a widow." And then the person goes white or their eyes widen and they just stare at me and I end up feeling like a jerk because they don't know what to say. "No, no, it's fine," I stammer, "I mean it's not fine, but we're fine, I'm mean we're okay…" and in all of my stammering, this poor person is trying to say something nice. "Oh my…I am so…that is so…" but I feel bad for them because I somehow feel like I've roped them into this emotional experience and now we have to talk about it and I have to make them feel like they have nothing to feel sorry about. Sometimes this whole ordeal is so exhausting and predictable that I tell myself I should just wear my wedding ring to avoid these awkward situations. But I can't wear my wedding ring. I can't wear it because I'm not married. I am a widow.

You would think after three and a half years of dealing with the loss of my husband, there would be other wonderful things on which my identity could rest. I'm a teacher, I have a wonderful son, I'm a writer now too. But somehow, whenever I sit down to work out a problem or tell my life story, it always comes back to the same thing: I am a widow. So, let's just start there.

Three and a half years ago I lost my amazing husband, Josh, in an accident. He was Carveboarding down a cement embankment and he lost his balance and hit his head. He fell in such a way that killed him nearly instantly. Now, I'm sure, like the rest of the world, you're thinking, "Well, what on earth is he doing going down a cement embankment on a board on wheels that wobble with no helmet!" And sure, that is legitimate question, but clearly you don't know Josh. He was king of tricky stunts. He loved activities that involved risky, challenging situations where he had to use his own body and brain to figure them out. And the craziest part is, we never worried about him. He had such impeccable balance and such confidence in his own abilities, no one batted an eye when he built a ramp off the end of the dock at Elk Lake and went flying down it on a bicycle for an eight year old. No one gasped in worry when he back-flipped off a fifty-foot cliff over the Salmon River in Idaho. He was always all right, except for this one blink of a moment that ended up costing his life.

At the time of the accident, I was five months pregnant with our first child. A month prior to Josh's death, we found out we were having a boy. Josh kept insisting that we should name him something ridiculous like Cougar or Hawk. I nodded politely at all of his stupid ideas, knowing full well that if I was carrying this boy for nine months and I was going to be the one delivering him, I sure as hell would have the final say on the name. Oddly enough, I got my wish, just not in the way I had planned. Kai Joshua Taylor was born on October 18, 2007. In the months following Josh's death and after the birth of Kai, I kept a journal. I had these crazy things in my head and I had to get them out. I couldn't exactly call my mom every five minutes and tell her why I was crying for the seventeenth time that day and it was only nine a.m. (though she would have listened). And I did go see a psychologist, but I had a lot more than one-hours worth of stu

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