One woman’s defense of all the widows out there
Up until recently, you’ve probably never even heard of Erica Roman. She’s a young single mother of two children, and a blogger at Erica Roman Me. Personal blog in which she shares her opinions, daily struggles and future hopes. Recently (at the beginning of this month) she came to Patton Oswalt’s defense after his much talked about and publicized engagement, and has been in the media since… for all the right reasons.
The actor and comedian (pictured above) found himself in a lot of scrutiny, scorn and judgment not just from the media but also from the opinionated public, simply because he chose to re-marry and find love again (one year after his wife Michelle Eileen McNamara died unexpectedly) and she had something to say as well. Erica was made a widow too last year (after the sudden death of her husband), and felt that she was in the best position to protect and defend Patton from the judging eye of everyone that was concerned. Her rant (as she called it) caught the eye of Mr. Patton himself and he share it in his social media pages. But let’s put things in a little perspective. Filmsane had the pleasure to talk to Erica and let her share her inspirations, history and heartache that led to writing that post on her blog.
Let me start with the motive for this interview. Your rant as you called it on your personal blog regarding the engagement of comedian and actor Patton Oswalt. A Widow’s Rage Defense of Patton Oswalt’s Engagement was the title and in the post you addressed the ignorant, judgmental, assholes aka the public that judged Patton for finding love and eventually re-marrying a year after his wife’s death. What prompted this rant and how did it affected you emotionally while you were writing it?
The concept of a widow’s heart expanding was something that I had been contemplating over the past several weeks. I am part of a large young widows support group on Facebook where there are frequent discussions about how friends and family react scornfully when the various members decide to start dating again. It’s a very common occurrence which made me worry that I might face the same backlash whenever it becomes my turn to introduce people to someone new. The news of Oswalt’s engagement and subsequent judgment from those on the outside made me feel like it was time for someone to say something to the people on the outside. I wasn’t just defending Oswalt, I was defending all widows and widowers including myself, which is why I wrote so passionately.
Ps. Mr.Oswalt, if this somehow gets to you, from one widow to another, I would like to say congratulations from the bottom of my heart. I am so incredibly happy for you and I hope I am just as lucky someday. It did get to him, and he shared you post on his social media outlets. How did that made you feel? Was it a satisfactory feeling that your message got through not just to the general public but to the person that inspired this post? Because after all he’s not just a random man, he’s a celebrity after all with a bigger platform and media exposure.
I was shocked and excited when I saw not only did he see it, but he reposted it along with some very kind words towards me. I honestly didn’t think it would make it all the way to him and if it did, at most I was hoping for him to “like” it or maybe say a quick thank you. Even though he is a celebrity, that’s not why I wrote it. I wasn’t hoping to go viral because of him. I wasn’t defending Patton Oswalt the celebrity, I was defending the widower.
Tell me about your background. On you Facebook page and blog you’ve mentioned that you lost your husband last year very unexpectedly just like Mr. Oswalt. How are you and your two children coping from the loss? Does the time that passes by makes it easier a bit, or is it a ongoing process? Dealing with grief and everyday life?
My husband had a genetic heart condition that we were unaware of. He went to go play a game of basketball with some friends and had a heart attack on his way back home. Shock doesn’t come close to describing it, especially when I discovered that I was pregnant a couple days after the funeral. My whole concept of reality was distorted.
We had just celebrated our daughter’s first birthday a few weeks prior my husband’s passing. She was too young to understand what had happened at the time. My daughter is now two and a half and my son is coming up on seven months. Neither of them understand what they are missing. I grieved heavily on their behalf for awhile. As they grow old enough to understand they will grieve for their father in a different sort of way.
I don’t think that grief ever gets “easier”, we just get stronger and adjust to its presence in our lives. I still get waves of sadness, but they no longer knock me off my feet.
You’ve also started a Gofundme page fund-raiser about you plans to move back to Nashville and attend the second year of ministry school there. How is that fundraiser going and what can Filmsane do to make it a reality?
I created my Gofundme page a little over a month ago after a random person came across my blog and wanted to support me financially. So I set it up with some of my financial goals in case anyone else wanted to support me. After going viral I hit the target I had set within a few days. I had people suggest I raise the goal to encourage more support since at the moment I’m not able to be self sufficient with my minimal income, but I didn’t want to seem like I was trying to cash in on my five minutes of fame.
Are you a Patton Oswalt fan? Since Filmsane.com is a film blog, can you tell me about Patton’s movies that you particularly like? Mines are Young adult (with Charlize Theron) and of course Ratatouille.
I know him mostly from King of Queens. My daughter just watched Ratatouille and really liked it. But since I’m a bit of a nerd myself, I think my all time favorite bit of his was his Star Wars filibuster on Parks and Rec!
You also perform speaking engagements. You also mentioned that before you performed at conferences, events and church services in Florida and Nashville, and you’ve recently picked that up again. Can you tell me more about your speaking engagements and what is on your agenda while you do them?
Before stepping down to be a stay at home mom, I used to work in the community with teen girls. I would organize events monthly that addressed various issues such as self esteem, finding purpose, and overcoming depression. I’ve also taught at various youth and kids conferences and retreats.
I’ve only just now began speaking about my experience of becoming a widow. I’ve shared in 5 different local schools during after school and lunch programs where I emphasized the importance of choosing the identity of victor instead of victim. My heart is to bring hope to those who are facing their own struggles.
What do you think about the reception of you rant on your blog (regarding Patton’s engagement)? Was it met with positive feedback or were there some negative comments like in his announcement of his upcoming nuptials?
The response has been overwhelmingly positive. I have received over 1000 messages from people sharing their stories and thanking me for being a voice for them. I have had a number negative comments but none of them have come from anyone who identified themselves as having lost a spouse.
I also liked your blog posts about your struggle with anxiety, social expectations, you pregnancy and even about celebrating the birthday of your beloved husband. How is you sharing of your angst, struggles and aching helping you?
I’m a writer by nature so it was only natural for me to begin processing my grief through writing. Sometimes I don’t know exactly what I am feeling until I begin writing the emotion down. It’s very cathartic. When I write I am capturing my emotion and then releasing it. Often once I’ve written something down the weight of that particular emotion is lifted somewhat.
When was you blog „born“ and how you see it’s development in the future? What do you plan on writing in the near future there?
I started writing exactly one week after losing my husband. Initially I kept it private and only allowed a couple close friends and family access to it. But one evening after writing I felt God tell me to “let them see you bleed. Your healing is going to be their healing.” So I set the blog to public and held my breath as I posted it. Since then I’ve let myself be raw with my writing. Over this past year I have had people reach out to me because of my blog, but with this week came an onslaught of stories of how my writing has helped people in their process. One of my favorite stories was a woman who lost a sister and had a falling out with her brother in law when he began dating before she thought he should. She wrote and told me that in response to my blog she was going to reach out to him and try and make amends. That’s been my heart from the beginning. Helping others with my writing has brought purpose to the pain I walked through. I will continue to write my blogs and my next step is to write a book.