On this journey to move forward after a horrible loss, I hit a bump in the road. As I hit this bump, I was forced to remember that this journey isn't just about me.
Moving forward as a young widow has its challenges, to say the least! Moving forward as a young widow with three young children adds a whole complex dimension to this journey to a new normal. It's a journey the four of us are on ... each of us on our own path.
Part of my path has included dating ... yes, dating again after many, many years. I never would have pictured myself at 39 widowed and dating again. The last time I dated I was just beginning my life after college and starting my career. I met Steve when I was 23. We were young and had our whole lives ahead of us. We married two years later.
Fast forward 14 years later ... and here I am. Losing Steve by far has been the most devastating thing I've experienced. EVER. It seemed as if one minute, we were happily married moving toward our 10 year wedding anniversary. Just shy of that anniversary, I came home from work one day to find my husband had died unexpectedly.
Although Steve had been ill, suffering from major depression for many years. I didn't see death coming. Not for a 44-year-old husband and father of three. We managed the depression when it reared its head, but overall we were very happy. Our love grew stronger with each passing year. Then, it was gone.
For the longest time, I couldn't sleep on my left side (sometimes I still can't). When I'd lay on my left side, I would open my eyes to an empty space where Steve once laid. Seeing that empty side of the bed was surreal.
I miss being married.
Steve was my husband and also my best friend. We knew what each other liked and disliked. When something great happened at work or the kids had done something new, I couldn't wait to tell Steve. Now, when I have something great happen, I pause knowing I can't pick up the phone and call Steve or send him an email.
So, after a bit of time, I began dating. Now, this is a topic that could fill the pages of a very large book, probably a volume of books! I'll skip ahead to the present time. A time when I had been dating a great guy for about nine months. From the beginning, we seemed to hit it off. Eventually, I introduced him to the kids. They adored him.
We spent many weekends together often finding some adventure -- biking a trail at one of our metroparks, hiking or sledding -- or we'd spend nights at my house making dinner, watching movies or playing games. It was great!
Until a few months ago.
To make a long story short, I recently ended the relationship. I wasn't happy. I didn't feel like I was an important person in his life. In the first few months of the relationship, I loved receiving texts telling me how happy he was that he had met me or that he couldn't wait to see me again or even a "good morning, beautiful xoxoxo." I loved hearing that special sound alerting me I had a text from him. I'd reciprocate sending him short messages to let him know how I felt. More recently, though, I'd send a short message, something like "I can't wait to see you" or "I've had you on my mind" and I'd get this message back - "that's nice."
What was that about? A distance seemed to grow between us. At one point, I thought he might be the one, my chapter two. But, as this distance continued, I grew more unhappy.
With the loss I've experienced, I've vowed to live each day fully, to love more deeply, to find happiness.
I wasn't loving deeply and certainly didn't feel like I was being loved deeply. So, I ended it. I'm ok.
What I didn't expect was how hard it would be to tell the kids. As we sat around our kitchen table and I began to tell them he and I were no longer dating, I could see tears begin to fill their eyes.
It's not fair. They lost their dad. Now, they lost someone they had grown close to. I want to spare them heartache. I wouldn't mind skipping some heartache, too! But, I can't imagine being alone the rest of my life.
So, now what?
I don't know.
Well, like Jane Seymour says, I need to keep my heart open. In the meantime, I will let go and see what happens.
So, the journey continues. It continues for me and for my three awesome kids.