On seeing other women

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…

Getting out

Today conspired to drag me back to normalcy. Or I did.

Leaving the house literally takes effort. All things held equal, I would be content to sit at home, working on whatever needs working on. Generally, when I go out, I have my youngest, Jillian, for emotional support. She likes to get out and gives me the incentive to move my butt out the door.

Some things don’t seem to take effort – doctors appointments, “vestibular therapy” appointments – but the mundane…. it takes effort to go out for those things.

So, I went to see my mom. All by myself. I’ve done it before since Kim’s passing, but it didn’t end well – a few of my grand nephews and nieces, the oldest among them about 7, were visiting her, and they were kicking their heels up a bit. The noise and activity caused INCREDIBLE anxiety, and I had to leave. I couldn’t take it. This was two weeks after Kim’s funeral, and I guess it was to be expected, but I don’t think I’ve been to see mom without Jillian at my side since. This week, Jillian had something to get done for her pageants, and I had to go by myself. And I did. And had a good visit.

This done, Phase 2 of my day went into play: getting to confession. I like to go on the first Saturday when I can, but I missed the first Saturday in January for whatever reason. I felt I needed to go, so I did. It wasn’t the usual priest, whom I like very much, but a very affable older priest who made a conversation out of the experience. I very much enjoyed talking to him, and, knowing that I was grieving, he gave me some very compassionate and helpful advice on my progress through my grief, and advice to not beat myself up too much over the things I’d done that were troubling me.

Then, the big one: trying to “fix” our Sam’s Club membership. Kim had the master membership, so I needed to put the master in my name. I grabbed both of our cards and a death certificate, girded my loins, and made my way there. We were unsuccessful, the service desk attendant and I, because Kim had the membership tied to a credit card, and had it set for auto-renew, so I need to get ahold of the credit card company before trying again – but, unsuccessful or not: I did it! I made the effort! One small step for me…

Finally, I stopped in at one of Kim’s favorite haunts – one of the last stores we went to together before she just couldn’t go out anymore: JoAnn Fabrics. There, I picked up some artificial flowers and some ribbon to make her a birthday bouquet to place on her grave. Jillian and I will place it after mass tomorrow. Her birthday is Monday.

I’ll never be a florist. Or a ribbon-tier…

Anyone reading this in the Canton, MI area who would like to attend: the 9:00 am mass Monday is being offered in her memory at St. Thomas a’Beckett.