On Friday night I took my oldest son to see Kings of Leon in concert at a football stadium nearby. We’d had our tickets booked since November last year and although they are not my favourite band I was still looking forward to seeing some live music.
Thankfully the predicted heavy rain never really materialised as we were standing on the pitch with no cover. Both support acts had been and gone, given the usual lacklustre applause reserved for bands that you haven’t come to see. Everyone was waiting for the main event.
We hadn’t been to a football stadium concert before but had experience of a festival a couple of years ago so we were fully prepared for the half empty cups that were thrown into the audience, hopefully just spraying beer and not some other dubious cocktail! But here people were also throwing their finished, or not even quite finished, plastic bottles into the air.
Surreptitiously everyone kicked the fallen ones with their feet as if to make the point that it wasn’t their rubbish left abandoned on the floor!
I do wonder how many made it to the bins provided and I had also been pondering how much it would hurt to be hit by one when I was!
It arrived from straight in front of me but I wasn’t watching in that direction, something else had caught my eye in another direction. I certainly knew about it when this one did – smack in the face, the bottom of the bottle still icy cold, evidence that it was not totally empty, connected with my eye.
I stood in shock!
At first I didn’t know if I’d been blinded, was I bleeding, or had anything been broken?
Those around me showed concern, asking if I was alright.
I soon figured out I could open my eyes, I could see. There was no blood from my eye or my nose. I seemed to be OK.
But then the tears came and to be honest they had little to do with my recent injury.
I was crying for my real loss, because I am now all alone despite being surrounded at the time by a sea of people. At that moment I really wanted someone to take charge of the situation and once again I had to be brave and cope on my own. All I wanted to do was curl up and be cared for.
No one in the crowd knew why I was really in so much pain and why the sudden shock was so unbearable.
After dithering for a bit, unsure whether or not to seek help I went to the medical tent to be checked over.
I didn’t explain that I was grieving. It seemed superfluous, an event in the past that shouldn’t have a bearing on this current incident. Besides there were no questions about marital status on the form to be answered where I could have naturally dropped it into the conversation.
I was given a clean bill of health along with a couple of paracetamol for my now throbbing headache. My son was told his mum might end up with a black eye – although fortunately I didn’t.
We went to find somewhere to sit down as our ticket included an unreserved seat. We ended up right at the other end of the stadium from the stage but consoled ourselves that at least we’d get a good view of the overall effects, the lights and pyrotechnics.
Maybe it was due to the bump on the head but as we sat, still waiting for the thankfully delayed Kings of Leon to arrive on stage, my mind started thinking of something completely at a tangent.
I thought of Queen Victoria and the forty years she spent in mourning for Albert. Of the custom of wearing black as a symbol so those around you would know how fragile you were. The black cardigan I had chosen to wear that evening gave me no extra understanding or compassion.
But would I really want to be marked out in such a way? To wear a badge which says “I am a widow – handle with care” and don’t throw your empty bottles in my direction!!!!!
The only way to protect us from the flying missiles was to sit at the back out of the way.
But once the band had been on stage for a few songs my feet were getting itchy and I really wanted to be back in the crowd, swaying and dancing to the music. I watched with envy as they moved as one, arms aloft in time to the flashing lights and beating drums.
My son wouldn’t venture back with me out of concern, worried I may get hit again but being away from the action was hard. I couldn’t stand where we were as no one else was and being a considerate person I didn’t want to block the view for the people behind us!
Finally I had to stand, the concert was nearly over and “Use Somebody” is one of my favourites. I don’t think many people were still sitting by this point. It was acceptable to get on your feet.
But it wasn’t the same as standing down on the pitch and next time that’s where I’ll be. I decided that you can’t hide away forever in fear of what might happen.
It’s true of concerts and it’s true of life.
Yes I am a widow and it is an awful thing to lose a husband. But I refuse to sit down and wear black and declare my life is over. I don't want to watch from the sidelines.
I am thankful that widows no longer have such limiting restrictions placed upon them. I am thankful I don’t have to observe Victorian style mourning etiquette out of respect.
Hopefully it’s a healthy sign and another step in the right direction on my journey of re-building my life.