So, I took another gargantuan step yesterday: I went out with a young lady who was a couple of years behind me in high school, and whose husband passed a couple of years before Kim. We had planned for coffee, but, due to various reasons, it got later and later in the day before we could meet, so we ended up not really having a plan. We simply went for a drive until we spotted somewhere interesting, which ended up being a brewpub built into an old church in Saline. We ordered a “flight” of beer samples I thought she might enjoy – a Koelsch, a Saison, and several Belgians – and an appetizer, and we talked some more. We talked of people we knew or know; our careers, our families, our marriages, and our losses.
It was easy to use my “happy face” technique in interacting with her because, frankly, I enjoyed talking to her so much, it came naturally. We have a lot in common – some of those things scarily similar – which gave us common ground for conversation. There are a lot of differences, too, though, which is to be expected between two people who came to where we are via very different paths.
This outing was a bit double-edged, emotionally. Though it was thrilling to be interacting in this way with an adult female who was not a member of my family, doing so surfaced a lot of insecurities that I think come from having been singularly committed for so long. Chief among them: “Am I boring her to death?” Oddly, I felt none of the guilt that some widowers speak of when they first venture out of their now-vacant marriage bubble – likely another thing that varies by person.
And, you know what? If our relationship never grows beyond today – basically online “pen pals” – I’m ok with that! I think this is a facet of the maturity that comes from a life such as the one I’ve been living. The need for acceptance is still there, but it is not the overarching demand that it was as a young man. And if it does grow into more? I’m ok with that, too.
I guess, the point I’m trying to make is that it is ok to want to continue living. It is ok to meet other people. It is ok to seek companionship. Your deceased spouse would not want you to be depressed and miserable for your remaining life, locked into a never-ending cycle of grief.
Don’t think of it as “moving on”, because you can no more move on from who you are as you can go back in time and change the events that made you who you are. Your spouse will ALWAYS be a huge component of what makes you who you are today. Instead, consider it continuing the story your life has been writing since the day you were born. And each and every day: a new chapter awaits. Turn the page…