ABOUT ALISON PENA
aka Bad Widow
My name is Alison Pena, a lifelong New Yorker and entrepreneur who loves music, art, travel and adventures. My husband, David Beynon Pena, and I were together close to 25 years, married for 20 of them. On October 12th, 2015, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer – life expectancy, 6 weeks to 4 months.
As David’s energy waned, we reprioritized our activities to spend time with people and do EXACTLY what he loved: make art, be with family and friends, and play tennis. To survive these heartbreaking months, I had to remind myself that I was still a woman, who loved to sing, still an entrepreneur, not just a caregiver. We learned to live fearlessly in the face of death itself.
David and I talked wanting to be alone together at the end, at home. Saturday, September 10th, 2016 at 10:10 am, I held him in my arms and reassured him that I would take care of myself, his mom, his studio, his legacy of art. I told him, “In a body, you need breath and love. When you leave a body, you only need love. When you are ready, go out on the love.” Without pain or fear, David took four breaths and left me, and I was a widow.
It’s impossible to prepare for such a loss. Being a widow meant variable energy, memory gaps, inability to focus in a wasteland of grief. I lost trust in myself. I did not know who I was without him. A prolific professional artist, he left 1000 paintings behind (landscapes, cityscapes, portraits, still life and figures in oil, watercolor and charcoal). After a year, I brought them home. Barely able to care for myself, it was a LOT.
With every challenge, I looked for and found solutions which I am eager to share with you. When my longing for more got bigger than my fear, I started to take back my life again.
I believe in the possibility of love throughout a lifetime, even if one love is cut short by death, disease or divorce. After David died in my arms at home, I was terrified to feel that depth and intensity of pain again. Yet, I was unwilling to live the rest of my life without love so I began to expand my boundaries to intimacy and found my second true love in just six months.
Bad Widow is about all of it, from agony to ecstasy, peppered with hilarity, comfort and community. I’ll go first. If this resonates with you, you are welcome to come along too.
2 Epic Love Affairs
David Beynon Pena and me (1992-2016)
Wayne Hacker and me (2018-now)