When Jared died I swore I would never date again. Never love again. And certainly never marry again. And then on November 19, 2016 I met Jon and before I knew it, I was falling in love. Within a few months, I knew Jon was heaven sent and I was destined to spend forever with him.
Finding new love after loss brings so many emotions. Emotions that cannot be explained unless you have been widowed. When Jon asked me to marry him, I was filled with joy. And when we decided to plan our wedding in only 11 days, I was filled with excitement. The night before our wedding, I was filled with so many emotions. Love. Joy. Excitement. Sadness. Guilt. I knew I wanted to marry Jon. Spend forever with him. But I also wished Jared could see how happy I was. How much his love shaped me.
The night before my wedding to Jon, I couldn’t help but think of the night before I married Jared. And how much had changed in 17 years. I was no longer that innocent bride. I was a widow, surviving the unimaginable. I was soon to be someone else’s wife. And then I cried. I cried for all that was and would never be. I cried because I never imagined wanting to be someone else’s wife. I cried because I didn’t want to forget Jared and our life together. And I cried because I loved Jon with my whole heart and yet I felt caught between two worlds. I cried because I felt guilty for moving forward when Jared would never get that chance. I cried until I understood that I wasn’t leaving Jared behind, that I carry him in my heart. I stopped crying when I understood that I could love Jon, be happy as his wife, without taking away from my love for Jared.
I am no longer the bride I was when I married Jared. So much has changed. I am obviously older. And wiser. I changed emotionally. I no longer needed the big fairy tale wedding. I just needed to feel my toes in the sand as I pledged to love Jon until we meet again. I wasn’t worried about that one day. I was focused on the marriage. Focused on building my future with the man God placed in my life.
I know we are not guaranteed tomorrow. That life can change in an instant. And I knew I wanted to remember that each day and never take Jon for granted. Wanted us to never go to bed angry. To always talk and resolve our disagreements. To respect one another. To be honest and truthful. To remember to laugh and find joy in the journey, especially on the hard days. To make each other and our marriage a priority.
I know death does not end love. When I married Jared I said I do. I said until death do us part. But guess what? Death only parted us in the physical sense. I still love Jared. Always will. Death did not end our love. Love transcends all space and time. And Jon appreciates that love is forever. That is why we said until we meet again instead until death do us part.
Exchanging vows with Jon brought its own set of emotions, Guilt that I moved forward and found love again. Excitement at starting our new life. And sadness for all that wasn’t and can never be. Sad that I no longer have the innocence of that bride so many years ago. I am Jon’s wife. And yet, I will always be Jared’s widow.
I am grateful to have the chance to love again. To share my heart and my life with someone. To no longer be alone. And because of the love I shared with Jared, the life we lived, and his death, I will be a better wife to Jon.
Long live love.