I have gone through a myriad of emotions the past few days. Mike is down this weekend visiting me from Ohio... it is the first time he is meeting my family and a lot of my closest friends. It's one of those big and bittersweet and totally surreal steps forward. Even more so because he is coming for a special event – an annual camping trip that my friends and I have each year in honor of my late-fiance, Drew. It's so surreal to be inviting a new man to this particular event... and to be camping for the first time with someone new too.
For those who don't know, this is my first relationship since my fiance Drew died 3 years ago. Mike and I have been dating long-distance now for several months after meeting at Camp Widow – both of us widowed. We've had a few trips together, one in which my mother-in-law was able to meet and spend a day with him, but this is the first time one of us is entering the other's home turf. IT. IS. STRANGE. And beautiful. And heartbreaking. And surreal. All in the same breath.
When I say “my family” I really mean Drew's. With my own parents both gone and my siblings far away, I came to live with his family when he died so we could go through this together. They are as much my family as my own and have always known and been open to the idea that I will move forward with love again... but of course this is the first time we are all having to face it for real. As close as we are, my dating again is very much something they have to also go through. Its difficult knowing that my choice to move forward will be hard for others in my life too, not only me. And that in order to move forward in love and in life – I have to put them through a difficult situation. I don't like this, but I know there is no way around it. If we want to all be in each other's lives, it just has to get a little messy.
So lets break this down... I live with my in-laws, in my dead fiance's old bedroom. And the other night I pick up this new man from the airport and bring him HERE. To their home. To sleep in their son's room with me. It sounds like a cross between a lifetime movie and a bad joke setup. I know a lot of you out there are wondering if there is hope for something to work out in your future with someone new. If you will ever find someone else, or ever be ready or want someone else. I get it. I have had all those same fears for the past three years. And many more.
I am telling you... if THIS can work, anything can. I was in no way ready to date, and I had all those fears about whether I could even love someone new. I worried my love for Drew would hold me back. I worried the entire situation of my life would be too complicated for anyone new... that no one would want to "deal" with me. I worried I might lose Drew's family in the process of all of this. But I guess sometimes you just gotta jump in and see where it all takes you.
To my amazement none of my fears have come true thus far. In fact the opposite. I have felt myself able to love even deeper because of losing Drew. The other day Mike told me that I am easy to love. Easy to love? After all I have been through? I nearly cried, because I don't feel easy to love and that was one of my biggest fears. I feel messy and complicated and all over the place. But I guess that's all in my head.
Last night, we all went out to dinner – Drew's parents, his younger sister, me and Mike. And I am just watching as Drew's dad and Mike chat and get to know each other. Watching how they hit it off and how well they get along. I grin when Drew's mom tells Mike to show us all a picture of his daughter Shelby. I cannot help but be completely beside myself to watch all of this going on in front of me and actually working. I swear I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop... for something to go wrong. And still it hasn't. Today all my friends have just arrived for the camping trip, and as I have been writing this Mike and all of my friends have been getting things ready... all together. It's as if somehow he was just always part of everything. So surreal. So beautiful.
The beauty of it all doesn't take away the pain of course. I want my best friend to be able to be here to see all of this. Oddly, I want the man I was going to marry to be able to see me this happy with someone else. It's heartbreaking that I can't share it with him. I've cried each day Mike's been here... so many emotions of joy and of sadness. Neither of us would have met if our persons had not died. We would not be getting to experience this new and different and equally beautiful love either. We would not be bringing these different families together from worlds apart. It has made me so sad because neither Drew nor Megan get this chance that we get. We are still here and get the chance to experience all of the many ups and downs of living life... and they do not. There is no way around it - sometimes this is stuff just plain sucks - even when it's great.
I'm so grateful to be still be alive and to have someone to share the next chapter of adventures with. Someone who isn't bothered by my missing Drew... who will hold me in those moments when it all becomes just a little too much.