Since Heath Ledger's untimely death in January 2008, Michelle Williams has been fostering a low profile, splitting her and daughter Matilda's time between homes in Brooklyn and Upstate New York. Skittish about talking to the press ("I didn't know what my boundaries were for a long time, which made interviews feel very unsafe"), she's finally ready to open up, talking to Vogue about dealing with Heath's death and raising their daughter as a single parent.
Michelle describes the days and months following Heath's death as walking through a fog. "I have been severely accident-prone over the past twelve months," she said. "I fell downstairs, broke a toe, put my fingers in a blender—seriously distracted. I was holding it together by a string and a paper clip in the fall and winter. I didn't know if I could keep it all together."
With the help of friends and neighbors, Michelle found consolation in an unlikely place: the dirt. "Women and kids really got us through the winter. One got me gardening in the spring, and that's when it started to turn around. I think it's something about being in nature that made it more possible. I remember being on my hands and knees. The ground was cold and muddy. I pushed back the dead leaves and saw the bright green shoots of spring. Under all this decay something was growing. Caring for the garden reminded me to care for myself."
And of course, caring for another—her three-year-old with Heath—was also a large focus during the grieving period. Sadly, their darkest hours were when they garnered the most paparazzi attention. "It's because people really loved your daddy that they want to take your picture, to know you're all right" is what she tells Matilda. "My reaction to it is going to be her reaction to it. It's an OK model for her to see that her mom has boundaries."
Recently breaking up with boyfriend director Spike Jonze, citing poor timing, Michelle is taking on a new approach to her love life. "There is a great Gloria Steinem quote—and I'm paraphrasing—'Become the man you want to marry.' I've taken that on. What qualities do I find attractive, and can I find them in myself? What am I missing? Can I be that for myself?"
What do you think about Michelle's Vogue cover?