My past and present collided this week. Perhaps “collided” is too strong a word, because it implies force or an impact. When I think of a collision, I see destruction and violence. What happened to me wasn’t violent or destructive, but no less powerful.
This is a rough time of year for me. Of course the holidays after losing a spouse are difficult, but I’ve got the added “bonus” of A’s birthday being just a few days before Christmas. Despite it being my third without A, I’m finding myself weepy and highly emotional. Again. To the point where I had a bit of a meltdown at work that found me in the bathroom crying off all of my makeup. As my job involves dealing with the public, this was a bit more embarrassing than in the early days of grief where I could cry off and on all day and no one was the wiser.
The thing is, I really miss A and our life together, and know that on some level I always will. But I have recently found myself in love with a kind, gentle, and caring man who has not only accepted my quirks and idiosyncrasies (of which there are many, to go along with my numerous personalities), but who has also allowed, and even encouraged, me to talk about A and keep his memory alive.
That may sound ridiculous to some people, because why wouldn’t he “allow” it? But having been part of the widowed community for awhile now, I’ve come to learn that some widows aren’t so fortunate. They become involved with men who want them to forget their past lives, feeling it somehow diminishes the current relationship. I’ve had very small glimpses of that kind of thinking during my limited dating experiences, and believe me, those were enough. I could never be with someone who dismissed that part of my life (or forced me to). To do so would be to eliminate virtually my entire adult existence!
Fortunately my new man S understands that my life with A has definitely impacted who I am. To remove the part of my life that included A would basically leave me an empty shell. Ironic when you consider how much of an empty shell I felt after losing A.
S’s entry into my life has shown me, however, that my heart was merely dormant and waiting to come to life again, much like a tulip bulb. Although the bulb appears to be nothing more than a ball of dead, brown leaves (and I apologize for this description because as someone who knows how well words can paint a picture, I cannot find a better way to describe a tulip bulb [insert eye roll]), with the proper care, it sprouts into a vivid, colorful bloom. That’s how I generally feel these days – like I’ve truly come alive again. And although I didn’t think it was as obvious a transformation on the outside as I know it has been on the inside, apparently it shows. I have had more people comment on how “wonderful” it is to see “that smile back” on my face.
“You honor a man by the way you treat his widow.” ~ John Armor
Although I was admittedly fearful of falling in love again, initially believing that lightning couldn’t strike twice, S calmly reassured me “it can because you’re the lightning rod”. (Seriously, much like the Grinch, my heart grew three sizes that day…). And a few days ago, he proved once again that he is exactly the man I can safely give my heart to. During my emotional meltdown where I was holed up in the ladies room at work, as well as some somewhat unrelated early morning insecurity and the emotional aftermath of my crying jag, I reached out to him. In every case, he was calm and rational and compassionate and understanding, asking simply “how can I help”? That’s it. Four little words that did so much to bring me peace.
He didn’t assume he knew what I was going through. He didn’t call me ridiculous for the trivial incident that had put me over the edge. He didn’t get jealous that I was essentially crying on his shoulder about another man. He was merely there for me, allowing me to work through the moment(s) and make it through to the other side of the emotions for the time being, which is all I really needed, and all that I could have hoped for in a new love.
Believe me, it is still scary entrusting this battle-scarred heart to someone new, but I weighed the whole risk/reward thing and came to the conclusion that I’m willing to take a(nother) chance on love. It took a special man to make me reach this conclusion but I’m operating on the belief that my heart is safe with him.
So although there was no violent crash between my past and present, it still made an impact. An impressive, powerful impact.
And because S and I have already developed our own relationship shorthand, this next bit is for him – Hi. Wow. Thank you.
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