I’ve always been a believer that things get better with practice. I’ve done this before; I know how this goes; experience is the best teacher, etc., etc. I always told my wife Julie that I loved her *more* knowing what I knew after 20 years than I did when we first got together, or had our first fight, or first child, or whatever.
Well fuck me, but that is NOT turning out to me true this time!
“This time” is dating after loss, or “Finding Love After Widowhood” (subtitle of a great program by my friend Michelle E. Vásquez), “taking the leap,” “putting yourself out there,” “nothing ventured, nothing gained,” or whatever the heck you want to call it.
This was supposed to be a happy song. It was a happy song. But almost as far back as I can remember, it has always made me sad. But sad in a unique, disquieting, unusual way. And though it was always associated for me with a first love, it took the death of my longest, deepest love for me to recognize that feeling for what it really was.
Today marks 6 months for me–it seems like yesterday and a lifetime ago.
I spent today enjoying the company of the new light in my life–learning to love and share and be present with someone is one of the best ways I know to pay lasting tribute to my wonderful wife of 19 years. And this person, well, to say she is amazing and present and loving and hysterical and kind and sweet and wise and open… well, that just barely scratches the surface. *Seriously*
I am both heartened and more than a little upset about how many people have experienced loss. Facebook, of course, “suggests” friends for us, usually when we have one or more mutual friends. In my “Suggestions” box, I started sending friend requests to every person I had a number of widow/widower friends in common with. I kept clicking, and clicking. And more kept coming, and coming. 13 friends in common. 19 friends in common. 23 friends in common. I kept sending requests, determined to exhaust Facebook’s supply of widows and widowers. But they kept coming. Finally, I am now down to friends of friends from my professional life. For now. Once my new requests get accepted, there will be another wave, and another, and another.
On the one hand, it is wonderful we are all here, helping each other. I feel so grateful for that every day. But on the other, the sheer numbers, the endlessness of more and more hurting, shattered, rebuilding people… It’s just very sad. All that pain and sorrow and loss. Hugs to all of us. Every one.
If the past is a piece of woven cloth, as time passes, we are able to loosen the weave, slowly. Eventually, there is enough space between the threads to weave in new ones. The original threads are still there; they will always be there. But they are no longer the only things there. They mix, over and under, with the new threads, creating beautiful and unknowable patterns that never could have existed with either just the new or just the old. Sometimes, it is very hard to figure out how to weave in the new threads. We may get frustrated and want to rip out entire pieces of the old cloth, but that would just create a gaping wound, much harder to weave together successfully, and have the potential of always being the place where the fabric is weakest. Better to go slow; to pick new threads that can integrate well with the old and not clash with them, to only weave them in when there is enough space for them, and when you are willing and able to be patient and understand the value of what is already there, while you deftly and beautifully weave their new contributions into it.