As a widow, the thought of dating made my skin crawl. I couldn’t imagine ever wanting anyone else to touch me, kiss me come hold me. Let alone be intimate with someone new. I said I would never date. Would never fall in love again. And I absolutely would never get married again. I could not imagine opening my heart and my life to another man.
And I meant it. I absolutely had no intention of sharing my life with someone new. I fully intended to live. To laugh. To enjoy life. But I never wanted or intended for that life to include someone new.
When my late husband died, I vowed that I would mourn him, grieve him for the next two years. That the first two years would be all about him. Remembering him. Honoring him. Keeping his memory alive. Why? I have no idea. But for some reason that’s what I did. I decided the man that I had loved for 16 years, deserved two years of deep grieving. 24 months of mourning. In April of the second year (September would mark three years since his death), I vividly remember waking up one day and realizing I wanted to live. Not just survive. But truly live. Have a remarkable life. Say yes to every adventure. Make wonderful new memories. Teach my son that life is for living. That we would always grieve the loss of his dad. That we would always wish Jared could be here with us. But that didn’t mean our lives could not still be wonderful.
In November of the third year after my late husband’s death, my son, my mother, and I boarded a cruise ship for the Panama Canal. As we were boarding, my friend Lynda, called me and made me promise that I would go dancing the next night. She said Jared was telling her to tell me to go dancing. So I promised to go dancing. A little sidenote, I always said if Jared wanted me to date someone new, he would have to drop him in my lap. The next evening, I walked into the bar on the cruise ship, ordered a glass of wine, and listened to music. Soon after, a gentleman walked in and asked if the seat next to me was taken. I said no, he said May I sit here and I said something like I don’t give a shit where you sit and he proceeded to sit down. We made small talk even though I was giving off a tremendous bitch vibe. I didn’t want to make small talk. I had no desire to flirt. I just wanted to be left alone.
And then he asked about my tattoo.I have a memorial tattoo on my wrist. I told him it was in honor of my late husband and he commented “that must really suck.” And then he said I don’t know what else to say. Which was the perfect thing to say. No platitudes, no unsolicited comments, just an honest loss of words. We chatted until my wine glass broke and sliced my finger open. I immediately knew I needed stitches. He asked if he could walk me to medical and then filled out the forms for me as I applied pressure to my finger. When, two hours later, I was stitched up and had received my tetanus shot, I walked out and he was waiting for me. I can honestly say, I probably would not have waited for him. After such a long night, we decided to grab a drink. We finished our drinks and went to our cabins. Me thinking, he was a nice guy that I’d never see again.
Well, the next day we ran into each other and decided to meet for drinks in the bar after dinner. And that became our routine on that cruise. When the cruise ended, he went home to Texas and I came home to Florida. We kept in touch by phone and talked for hours every day. About six weeks after our cruise ended, I flew out to Texas to visit him. And the next month he flew to Florida to visit me. Thus began our pattern of traveling back-and-forth to see each other. He proposed exactly one year after we met. And we were married five weeks later. We recently celebrated our third wedding anniversary.
You may be asking why am I telling you all of this. One, never say never. I vowed never to date, never to fall in love again, never to get remarried. And here I am, a happily remarried widow. Two, I had no expectations. I was so very guarded. Determined to not let anyone in. And by him simply asking about my tattoo and responding so honestly, I unconsciously let my guard down. Three, finding a new love does not mean we forget or replace our first love. I carry my late husband in my heart. His name is tattooed on my left wrist. His photo hangs on the wall in our house. And at the same time, I wholeheartedly love my new husband. Cherish the life we are making together.
I am sharing my story to give you hope. Hope that life can be good again. That you can have a happily even after. Happily even after doesn’t have to include someone new. Just be open. Open to new experiences. New adventures. And yes, maybe even new love. Never say never…