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Short and Sweet Summary: Dating as a widow is rife with doubts – can you ever love again? Yes, yes you can. This story is how I met my Chapter 2. Turns out there is an infinite well of love available if you’re ready to tap it.
Dating in the widow world is rife with doubts.
There’s the grief. Good god, the grief.
And the feeling of “cheating” on your husband. No, you didn’t forget he’s dead. It’s just that, well, it’s confusing how you were married and now you’re not but you didn’t get divorced, he just died, but you still love him and how is it possible you’re going out with another man while you still love your husband?
Oh, and the reality that unless you plan to stay in a strictly platonic friendship, you will most likely see another man naked.
And have sex with someone who isn’t your husband.
REALIZING I WASN’T NUMB
I decided after the second year without my husband that I wanted to entertain the thought of dating again. See how noncommittal I was? Entertain the thought? It’s not like I woke up one day and declared, “On day 737 since my husband’s death I’m officially ready to date!”
No. It wasn’t like that.
I’d been clawing my way out of the grief abyss for so long that I didn’t even think it was possible to have feelings for someone else.
But, an interesting thing happened.
Before I had a chance to even entertain the thought of dating again, an acquaintance, friend of a friend, asked me out. He just called me up and asked if he could see me sometime. It completely caught me off guard because I was still numb with grief and not thinking about dating at all.
So, I stammered, “ummm…uh…yes…OK…I think I could make that work” or something completely idiotic like that. I was in shock, remember? We flirted via text for about two months without him ever actually asking me out on a date. Apparently, when he asked if he could “see me sometime” meant in the next one or two decades. And it turned out he had a girlfriend. So this guy was NOT A GOOD MATCH.
However, the stirring started. I had feelings.
Oh my god! I had feelings!
I wasn’t numb. Could I be interesting and dateable? Not a widow leper that no one wanted to touch?
I realized then and there that I could possibly do this. I could entertain the thought of dating again.
That was good enough for me.
I’D LIKE TO INTRODUCE YOU TO SOMEONE
I figured if I started talking about dating, I could somehow make myself believe it would be OK. Was two years too soon? Too long? What are the rules?
The rules are there are no rules. Just my own timeline of what’s best for me.
So, I asked my neighbor, Sondra, who worked at the hospital nearby to set me up with a doctor. Hee hee. If I’m going to date, I figured I might as well go big. Bring on the doctors!
“Oh, I would never set you up with a doctor,” she said. “They are too narcissistic, and their schedules are brutal.”
“But, I do have someone I’d like you to meet. I wasn’t sure when would be a good time to bring it up, but since you’re talking about dating again, would you be interested in meeting one of Frank’s coworkers?”
Oh God. Shit just got real.
“I’m just kidding,” I said. “I’m not really ready to date. I was joking. LOL.” I think I actually said L-O-L. I was nervous. I was just joking around and she had to go and make it really real.
So was I really joking? Um no. I wasn’t. But, I was entertaining the thought of creating a dating profile. Not passing out my number on day one of the commencement of entertaining the thought of dating.
GETTING BACK OUT THERE
A few weeks went by and Sondra brought it up again.
“I really think you’d like Tom. He’s been divorced for about 10 years. His kids are older. He’s worked at Ford for several years so he’s got a stable job. He’s really sweet. What do you think?”
I really just wanted to get the first-date-after-the-death hump over with. My expectations amounted to nothing other than jumping this self-imposed hurdle.
I knew I had a valid exit strategy in place if things went south. I mean, I’m widowed and grieving. It wouldn’t take too much persuading to say, “I really thought I could do this, but my heart just isn’t in it. I guess I’m not ready to date after all.”
The “it’s not you, it’s me” game plan was in place.
“Go ahead and give him my number,” I said.
Tom called, and we talked for over an hour. He was very nice on the phone and asked some pretty inquisitive questions. Mark’s death dominated our conversation, but he also asked about my work and how the kids and I were doing. He asked about a lot of things. He didn’t shy away from the deeper topics.
We agreed to meet for coffee on a Saturday afternoon. I let the boys stay home and play the Wii while I “ran some errands.” I figured I’d be back in less than two hours. I had a valid exit strategy, remember?
Tom and I got to talking and realized we had a lot in common. Our conversation was pretty effortless. After a couple of hours, he asked me if I wanted to grab some lunch at a nearby restaurant. I said yes. I called the boys, and they were doing fine at home.
At the end of the lunch, Tom asked if I would like to go out again sometime. I said yes again. Wait a minute…my exit strategy didn’t pan out like I planned. Oh well. I figured I could always use it on date number two if necessary.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t use it on date two or three or four…
COINCIDENCE OR DIVINE INTERVENTION?
“Who is this?” Tom said, pointing to the picture of our dog, Lucy.
“Oh, that’s Lucy. Our Dachshund. She died the same year as Mark,” I said.
“I have a Dachshund, too! Her name is Penny.” Tom said.
He had a Dachshund too? Seriously?
When I met my husband, Mark, he was a single man with a Dachshund.
How on earth did I meet another single man with a Dachshund?
Tom’s ex-wife’s name is Kim, too. What’s even weirder is his ex-wife and I also both have the same middle name, Anne. I’m sure I spell my differently, but c’mon.
Tom and I were both born in Flint, Michigan. He’s a Leo and I’m a Sagittarius, so we’re both Fire signs and probably one of the most compatible pairings in the Zodiac.
He has an old gas pump in his basement. Guess what my husband wanted to put in our basement but never got around to it?
Yup. An old gas pump.
We kept discovering coincidence after coincidence.
Did my dead husband have something to do with me meeting Tom? Ummm…yeah. I’m pretty sure he did.
THERE’S ENOUGH LOVE TO GO AROUND
Tom and I have been together for a while now. What I thought would just be a first-date-after-the-death hump to get over turned out to be my Chapter 2. He’s an amazing man who has never once asked me to stop talking about my dead husband. Never once has he said, “aren’t you over this yet?” or asked me to change the subject when the grief gets too unbearable.
I loved my husband with every fiber of my being, and guess what? I’m able to love again. What I didn’t think was possible is absolutely possible.
Turns out there is an infinite well of love available if you’re ready to tap it.
Love can blossom again if you let it.
WIDOW WRAP UP
I’m not going to say it’s all easy peasy and all that jazz, but dating again has been pretty great.
I hope you give yourself a chance at love again. At least entertain the thought. It’s too easy to say to yourself, “this isn’t for me” or “I found my soulmate once and I’m convinced it won’t happen again.” I get it. We use whatever defense mechanisms we need to get by.
Don’t doubt the ability to ever find love again. Love is infinite. There’s plenty to go around. Even for you. No. Especially for you.
If you’re ready to dig from that infinite well, you’re bound to find more than you ever bargained for.