I never really felt comfortable with the word “widow”, I guess I’m not really supposed to, right? Like, who wants that word to describe who they are? But it does describe an aspect of who I am. Actually, now I am a remarried widow. In 2015, in front of our family and friends, Sean and I were married on the Oregon Coast.
For months and months after Dave died, the possibility of ever meeting anyone else never even entered my mind. To entertain the idea of liking or loving or marrying someone else—what? No way! I had taken off my wedding ring because I didn’t feel married anymore, but not to signal I was single.
But a year and a half out, I felt ready to explore the dating world. I was curious about the idea of potential companionship, physical intimacy, maybe even love and partnership again. I was also raising two boys and had to be thoughtful about what I was doing so I got very clear about what I wanted and started making a list.
I had been with Dave for 17 years. I had been in a solid partnership. I knew what love looked like, and knew its challenges. I knew I had grown. My list of what I wanted in a new partnership came out to almost 4 pages.
When Sean and I first started dating, I found myself glossing things over. I had dug so deep into Dave’s death with my own practice of grief, and I had made genuine huge healing strides, but I still was not 100% ready to share parts of the life I’d led with Dave, with a new man. I found myself walking the line of being appreciative and somewhat in awe of Sean’s willingness and desire to hear about my “previous” life and not be intimidated or uncomfortable—and my own questioning: How much should I share with Sean? How can I honor Dave and our marriage? How can I hold space and time in my heart for both men—which I did, which I still do, and which Sean has always accepted?
I had done a lot of work on following my gut: I was learning to care less what was considered appropriate, or “the norm,” regarding grief and its timelines and cycles, but when you are falling for someone new after realizing how much pain can be attached to love, your gut is in a bit of a whirl.
I had gone through many new experiences since Dave’s death, and had, for the most part, grown and succeeded through them all, but love again? How was it possible? And what had Sean and I learned from our partners we’d had prior? What did we want to carry forth, and what did we want not to repeat? I don’t think I was processing all of these questions at the time, but I certainly hadn’t read up on “how to love another man after the heartbreak and trauma of losing the one you thought you’d be with forever,” because loving another man again hadn’t been my goal—not so soon, anyway.
But then there Sean was as if the Universe had put him in my path.