When my grief counselor suggested I start dating two years after Rick died, I was appalled by the idea. There was no point. There would never be another Rick. He was “my person.” There was no chance of me finding happiness with any other man, so I resisted the idea.
But there was another reason I didn’t want to date. Watching Rick suffer and die from lung cancer was something I couldn’t bear repeating. What if I DID find another person to love like that, and he died, too? Once was enough. If I avoided finding love again, I’d also avoid the unbearable pain of grief if I lost him.
At that point, I’d also finally come to terms with being alone. I’d carved out a new life for myself and actually enjoyed my solitude. But, I came to the realization that I did need to get back out into the dating world. Six months into dating, the pandemic hit, and my newly enjoyed solitude became very lonely. When I was finally able to get vaccinated, I knew I needed to seek companionship. Those evenings alone were too isolated, especially in stark contrast to the 20-plus years of having Rick to share my evenings with.
In the past three years, I’ve become involved with three men. The first moved out of state, so that ended pretty quickly. The second was the most romantic man I’ve ever encountered. Oddly enough, in late spring of 2021, after finally being vaxxed and hesitantly heading back out into the dating world, Time Magazine did an article about seniors dating after the pandemic, and I was featured in the article talking about this man. (Yes, my head is still spinning at that strange life event, my 15-minutes of fame.) In the article, I’m quoted as saying that I was attempting to enjoy meeting men again, but since I’d met a “charming school teacher,” I didn’t know how long I’d be available.
I was right about the short-lived dating period. I immediately fell head over heels in love with Mr. Charming. We spent a blissful six months together before he returned to his ex-wife. We were definitely not right for each other. He was a staunch conservative. I’m a liberal. He was a self-professed “alpha male.” I’m an independent self-reliant woman who isn’t going to spend my days wearing an apron, keeping house, and having his steak ready when he gets in the door from work. Nope. Not happening. But he treated me like a queen, was hysterically funny and fun to be with, and, as I mentioned, was the most romantic man a woman could ask for. Fun dates, hand holding, cuddling, kissing, romantic evenings on my deck… he swept me off my feet, so, yes, I fell in love.
I was heartbroken when he said we needed to take a break so he could care for his ex-wife, who had just been through major surgery. He said he owed it to his adult kids, who called him selfish for not offering to care for their mother. He was a fantastic father and loving grandfather, and (sadly, for me) such a good man that he complied.
So, he left, and I cried. But I soon discovered the pain wasn’t as horrible as I thought it would be. One of my besties is also a widow, and she summed it up pretty succinctly. Widows are survivors. We’ve survived the most painful thing we could imagine: the death of someone we loved, married, and had planned to spend our lives with. We survived the grief and the difficult climb back to normalcy, recreating our existence and every plan we had for our futures. If we can survive that, we can handle anything.
She’s right. I’ll admit, it hurt when Mr. Charming left. But I soon found myself moving on. Compared to losing Rick, the pain was a blip on my radar. He was a great guy, and I still miss our time together, but I chalk it up to a wonderful experience and no more. I’m currently in the midst of an on again off again relationship with a third man, but I’m not in love with him. And all that leads me to wonder this…
Was Rick my one and only? Will I ever find a love on the level I had with him? In the five years since he died, I’ve examined and re-examined our marriage and – honestly – there were flaws. Neither of us was perfect, but the love we shared was. He truly was my other half. I still feel the strength of the bond we shared years later. Will I ever feel that again for someone else?
I love music; there are so many song lyrics that I randomly come across that I can relate to. The day after I wrote a draft of this blog, I heard a song I was unfamiliar with, and it resonated with me. It’s called “Another Love,” by Tom Odell.
… I wanna sing a song, that’d be just ours
But I sang ’em all to another heart
And I wanna cry, I wanna fall in love
But all my tears have been used up
On another love, another love
All my tears have been used up
On another love, another love…
Have all my tears and all my love been used up on Rick? I’ll try to keep an open mind. I don’t want to self-sabotage or dismiss the possibility that I can share a love like that again with someone. Maybe I just haven’t met the right guy. But when I remember the passionate love I felt for Rick, I simply can’t imagine experiencing it again. He was my person.