"Surely now he's the one giving light to the stars"
As I sit here this morning, with a cup of coffee and the sounds of a familiar person milling around the house, I’m reflecting on some big things. This is a pretty significant weekend. A year ago, I arrived from Texas at a hotel in Tampa without any idea that I would meet a guy from Ohio that would change the course of things. Only 8 months after that weekend, I moved my entire life to Ohio to be near him and his daughter and give new love a chance. It’s completely surreal that it has already been a year since that day we met, at Camp Widow.
Ever since Drew died, I have always believed that I would meet someone new… someone who would be as wonderful as he was. I also believed it would be a long while before that would happen. Before I was ready. Sometime in that first year, I gave myself the timeline of 2 ½-3 years before I would even try dating. Somehow, this timeframe just felt right for me, personally. I felt it was enough time to honor my grief and also to honor Drew in such a way that I wouldn’t have to feel guilty or answer to anyone else for moving forward with someone new. Mike came along just under the 3 year mark, interestingly enough.
I think I was right in abiding by that gut-decision timeline. Looking back, I feel that I have given adequate time and energy to the most immediate aspects of my own grief and my own healing. Those 3 years after Drew died were not in fact years alone, as I had thought them to be. In hindsight, I am learning that those years were still years with him. Very precious years. Years where he guided me into new experiences and taught me new lessons about life and love. Yes, he was dead. But our relationship was very much alive. As was our love.
His death however meant that our relationship was going through a major change. It had to. That change asked of me a tremendous task... to work each day to feel through my pain so that I could begin to mold and create what our new relationship was going to be. As my life moved forward on earth without him, it was paramount that I see this as a change in our bond, not an ending. It was also vital that I take control of this change. I had to learn to accept that a change in our relationship was inevitable and I could either let it fall by the wayside, or I could actively recreate it and keep it forever.
After 3 long and grueling years of trying to figure this all out, I’ve started to find a new place for him and for us to exist within my heart. This new relationship is more of an old, very dear friend. A mentor and a guide. It’s become less about romantic love and more about spiritual growth… meaning it is still as deep as before, just different. I think this shift is one of the things that has made it easier to allow new romantic love in. They are not competing forces in my mind. In essence, Mike and Drew have differing roles in my world. And they work together, from near and far, to love, guide, protect, and support me in my life.
I think that going through this process of acceptance and change is what has allowed me to be able to step into new love without things feeling overly crowded. Yes, it was all terrifying at first. I didn’t feel ready, I was scared, I had triggers, but deep down - it felt right. Deep down, I knew this person was chosen to be here, guided into my world by my first love.
All of this enabled me to finally take another very big step this weekend too. The inevitable Facebook relationship status change. Yikes.
It seems like this shouldn’t be a big deal, but Facebook has become such a part of our identities now. And as we all know, ANY step of separation is big, even if it is just electronic. Drew’s account is still active, and until about a year ago, I was still listed in a relationship with him. After meeting Mike, I decided to make that status private altogether. It allowed me to still have the comfort of seeing the connection with Drew, but also didn’t confuse anyone new meeting me on Facebook.
I decided months ago that the one-year mark of meeting Mike would be when I changed this - though I kept this secret. Despite Mike’s wishes occasionally that I would not make things “official”, he respected my feelings, and let it be. That was exactly what I needed. I do things in my own time, and sometimes that takes very long.
As midnight came and we arrived at Feb 5, I pulled up my computer to make the change. It was strangely easy… surprisingly so. I had thought that it was be very emotional. That tears would flow. But they didn’t. It seems, I no longer needed that literal connection to confirm in me that my relationship to Drew isn’t going anywhere. Instead, I felt the excitement of finally committing on a new level to Mike and thusly to living my life fully.
In the days after this moment, there have been twinges of sadness. There has been missing, and a melancholy whenever I think of another layer of having to “say goodbye” to our relationship as it was in order to keep creating the new. But deep down, I know, our new relationship to each other is just as good. And it leaves room for even more new. This is the part that comforts me to the point that I didn’t shed tears or fall back into the pit of grief. No, it was far more like missing a very very dear friend, and wishing things were different, but also being okay with how things are. This is all very hard to put into words, but I hope this morning I was able to in a way that will bring some sense to this mess for someone else out there. It's not the end of our relationship to them, it is just the change.