It happened again. I went on another first date that didn’t leave me wanting a second. The man was intelligent and ambitious, polite and friendly. But there was no spark, and, when I got home afterwards, I realized that I hadn’t laughed once. Not once. And I have that kind of sense of humor that finds just about anything funny.

And, that’s when it happened. I pictured my first date with Rick and the non-stop talking, the laughter, the fun of it all. He was interesting and charismatic, and there was never a lull in the conversation. I couldn’t wait to see him again. And my latest date paled in comparison.

I can’t keep doing this – rejecting men because they don’t compare to Rick. I know it’s wrong. There are millions of widows who find love again, so what’s my problem?

If I do make it past the first date, then it’s just at a later stage when I start the comparison. Rick and I lived hundreds of miles apart when we were dating. He flew in every Friday after a long workweek to see me, so why is this guy complaining about the 45-minute drive? Or Rick always held my hand when we were walking, but this man never seems to want to. Or Rick bought me flowers for no reason, but this man has never bought me any after months of dating.

I don’t do it on purpose. I just feel this nagging voice in the back of my mind saying, “wait, this is subpar” or “hmm… this is missing something,” and all of it adds up to this underlying thought:

Rick loved me like no man ever has or ever will again. I can’t believe I’ll ever experience a love story like ours, again.

It’s been more than five years since he’s been gone, but the highlights of my time with him and the memories of his acts of love are still fresh. I fear that no man will ever stand a chance.

I know it isn’t fair to my prospective dates, so I’ll do my best to keep my focus on the present, not the past. I’ll keep going out and living in the moment. Maybe it’s just that I haven’t met the right man yet. Perhaps when I do, I won’t be tempted look back any more.

I guess only time will tell.


On August 13, 2017, I lost the love of my life. Rick Palmer and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary one month before he died at age 63 of complications from treatments for small cell lung cancer. He was my partner and soulmate, the love I had been looking for and finally found at age 40.

Rick was a talented writer and web designer and, in 2002, we began our own web and print design business. We worked together building the business and enjoyed traveling, writing, and playing together. Our dream was to spend our golden years together doing more of the same, but in the ten months from diagnosis to death, that dream shattered.

After Rick’s death, I quickly realized that the enormity of his loss was too much for me to handle on my own, so I began grief therapy. I also began writing through my grief in a journal of feelings, thoughts, memories, and poetry. As I navigate my new life alone, I share my journey and my efforts towards creating my “new normal” on my personal blog: The Writing Widow. I’m also on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

I recently published two books about my grief journey: my poetry book, I Wanted to Grow Old With You: A Widow's First Year of Grief in Poetry, and compilation of my blog posts A Widow's Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry - The First Year." Both books are available in print and Kindle versions on