As a widow, one of the hardest things for me was opening my heart up to new love. When you open your heart to new love, you take the risk of having it broken. You risk that your new love will also die. And as someone who has suffered through the death of their spouse and the grief that comes with that loss, death is not something you want to live through a second time. But as a widow, I also know the love was worth the pain. I would do it all again. Jared’s death and the grief I have endured for the last four years in no way compares to the love that we shared. Our relationship, our love story was worth every second of the pain.
When Jared died, I swore I would never date again. Would never fall in love again. And when I met Jon on that cruise ship I had no idea I was ready to date. Meeting someone on the cruise ship was safe. It was fun. But it had an end date. I knew the cruise would come to an end and most likely this new whatever it was would be over. It made me feel safe. But by the end of the cruise I knew it was not just a cruise ship fling, I knew I wanted it to be something more. And we started making plans to see each other after the cruise. And as much as I hate the distance now, then it was a lifesaver. We did not see each other for six weeks after the cruise. But we talked for hours every day. We got to know each other in a very deep, meaningful way. We shared secrets. We shared stories. We asked each other (okay I asked him) a ton of questions. It was pretty much a no-holds bar, let’s get to know each other and see if this is going to work six weeks.
And it did. Better than I ever expected. But, I think if Jon had lived close by I would have been too scared to open my heart and would have pushed him away. The fact that he lives a thousand miles away made him safe. Made it easier for me to open my heart again. Showed me that my heart could expand to make room for new love. That this new love is worth the risk of pain. That I deserve love and happiness. But I had to be willing to take the risk. To jump in with both feet. And I’m so grateful I jumped.
Our second weekend together, I just wanted to cry. I felt caught between two worlds. That somehow my newfound love and happiness would make me forget my life with Jared. I was caught smack dab between the past and the future. And I didn’t know how to navigate those waters. Jon was amazing. He told me to go visit Jared anytime I needed but to just come back to him. And then he held me as I wept for what was, what could never be, and what was coming. He held me as I shed countless tears for my late husband. That’s when I knew he understood that my love for Jared did not take away from my love for him. Just as my love for him does not take away from my love for Jared. That my heart has room to love them both.
And it’s because of my love with Jared that I could open my heart and risk finding love again. I consider myself very blessed to have two great loves. And if I had shut my heart off after Jared died, I would have missed out on all the joy I am experiencing now. Yes, love after loss is scary. But not nearly as scary as the thought of spending the rest of my life alone.