Better off

Jo asked me if I was better off after losing you than I was before we met.

We were talking finances, and the answer is yes.

But how many other ways am I better off today?

You told me so often how intelligent I was, how beautiful, how sexy, how talented. You disparaged others who didn’t appreciate me as an employee or coworker or friend.

You gave me confidence in so many ways, over the smallest, oddest things. You considered me a letter writer extraordinaire. You loved my smile. You loved my hair. You encouraged my writing.

When we met, I was a nearly 40-year-old late bloomer, a single mother struggling financially. I was fresh out of the university, only just beginning to earn enough to live on, only recently finding my calling as a writer. I was discovering my independence and beginning to realize my strength – only just finding and becoming myself. Your love, encouragement, and faith in me made me continue to bloom. You made me complete.

Now, here I am, a 60-year-old woman, newly widowed – single again. Financially, yes, I’m better off. Because of how you structured your pensions, I’ll have nearly the same income while spending for one, eating for one, living alone. I have choices that I never would have had from living off only my income for the past twenty years. I have income from our business – the business you cultivated and worked so hard to maintain until the month you died.

But I have so so so much more.

I have faith in myself. I believe in myself. I believe I am worthy of the love of a good man. I believe I can write and that I am smart, and that I am special.

I believe all the things you told me about myself.

So, yes, I am better off today financially than the single mother you met more than a decade ago.

But I am also a different person, a better person, a more confident woman. I will forever be the me I have become with your love inside me – a love that is a permanent part of who I am today. I have been forever changed by all you have given me and showed me and by having been loved so very well by you.

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at

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