Three years is not an insignificant amount of time to be in a relationship with someone.
Three years is how long Megan and I dated before we were married.
Three years is how long Megan was “healthy” during our relationship.
Three years is how old Shelby was when her mother was carted away in an ambulance, on her way to an unknown future.
Three years is how long Sarah and Drew were together before his death.
Three years ago, Sarah and I met.
Here come the cliches. “It’s all been a blur”, “Where has the time gone?” or “I can’t believe it’s been that long already”. Regardless, it has been a blur. It still feels “new” to be with Sarah, after being with Megan for 12 years, yet it’s comfortable and easy.
Some of that sense, of course, comes from the fact that I was already well established by the time we met. I had been married almost a decade, owned my home, and had a 7 year old girl. I was also a mess. I had been married almost a decade to a now-dead wife. I didn’t know if I wanted to even live in my home anymore, and most of all, I was terrified of raising a 7 year old girl alone.
Meeting Sarah changed all of th…
...no it didn’t. I still miss Megan to this very day. I’m content with where we still live together, but want to move. I’ll NEVER know how to raise a 7 year old girl, let alone a now pre-teen. The point is, Sarah entering the picture was compartmentalized and separate from all of that. She wasn’t “brought in” to help. I didn’t even want a relationship, let alone a band-aid or distraction. She sat down at the meet and greet in Tampa, two and a half months after Megan’s death, and as they say “the rest is history”.
Have there been times when I projected my past with Megan onto her? Yup. Sue me. It happens. But she’s not Megan, and I’m not Drew. There can be signs and triggers and memories all over the place of the two of them, and we still go home with each other.
Like any relationship, we’re still building. Hell, Megan and I were still building. We’re getting closer to goals and talking about the future even more than we did in the “puppy-dog” phase. Many of the early struggles with dating (and being) a widow in a new relationship have dissolved into routine so much that dealing with them has become muscle-memory. Last I checked, Megan is still very much dead, but when a random trigger arises that reminds me of her, it’s like riding a bike.
Nearing four years since Megan’s death, I don’t know if it would be the same way had Sarah not come into our lives, but I don’t wan’t to know. I don’t have this burning desire to know what would have been different had I not went to Camp Widow three years ago.
All I can say is that I know that the alternative wouldn’t have been as fun.
How does Kelley put it? Oh yeah...it’s #soblessed. I’ll give Kelley a shout out, since she, of course, scouted me out beforehand and ensured Sarah would sit down next to me. Our entire relationship is all Kelley’s fault.
But I digress. What’s most meaningful to me this morning is the fact that it’s been three years. It’s not a jealousy thing to be proud of the fact that I have been with Sarah as long as Drew was. I still wish that they had gotten more time. They didn’t though. I respect the fact that they were well on their way to becoming husband and wife themselves, and that she will always be entitled to lament the fact that they couldn’t. While it might seem trivial, coming from a person that spent at least three cumulative years beside a hospital bed, this is an important milestone for me as well. In my 37 years, I have never been with anyone that has spent as much time OUT of the hospital.
Because the both of us were open to the very concept of each other (and to be fair, she had WAY more time to come to that point), we’ve been granted three wonderful years so far. I’m not going to say they weren’t difficult years at times. Hell, were ARE both widows. But just the same, we’re both people too. It’s not very often that we lean on the widow card with each other. Almost never, in fact. That’s the beauty of it. We understand that it is and always will be a part of the other person. There’s a little bit of the knowing that we can’t use the widow role for the sympathy angle, but honestly, we know, and love, who the other person is outside of being a widow.
Ultimately, that’s the whole point. We both have the experience to know the healthy and loving responses to dating a widow, yet we don’t let it identify each other. We didn’t base our relationship on “hope” or “dreams” or some other abstract concept. We enjoyed each other’s company that weekend in Tampa, and three years later, we still do.