It has been a long time since I have really shared my life with a man. Four years, ten months, and seven days to be exact. In that time I have learned to juggle life as a single parent, a single person, a sole provider, the sole tenant on my mortgage...I have become accustomed to the fact that the buck stops with me.
For the last two weeks I have been in Australia with my fiancé. We have been working out the details of his move to the United States. He is moving half way around the world to marry me. Most days I am humbled and a bit awed by this fact, but sometimes the idea of leaping back into married life causes a slight (or full blown) panic attack.
One day after a difference of opinion, I asked Michael what his Plan B was going to be. He calmly looked me in the eye and said, "I don't have one." My heart skipped a couple beats. No backup plan? So I asked him what he would do if things didn't work out between us. His answer, "I don't know." For some reason this irritated me and I insisted on discussing everything from how we will manage conflict to what time we will eat dinner and who will cook the meal. I went on for a good long time about all the reasons our relationship might not work, and then I started crying out of nowhere for reasons I could not articulate.
Sitting quietly in Michael's arms I realized that I was actually terrified. Since Phil's death I have worked very hard to avoid disappointment. In my quest to recreate my life I have become fiercely independent. By avoiding counting on people I have created the illusion that if someone else dies I can mitigate the impact their loss will have on my life. Death is the ultimate disappointment. Nothing is as I thought it would be, and the person who previously shared every part of my life is dead. The hole his death left behind took years to fill, and here I was prepared to link my future with another man. WHAT am I thinking?!
As all of this self-reflection was going on, Michael just waited. He held me when I cried. He assured me that if things didn't work out between us that he would be okay. He repeated the promise that he would do his best not to die first. He laughed when I told him I had no idea why I was crying. And then I knew what I was doing, marrying a man who understands this journey though he has never walked this path. He loves me enough to stand by me while I work through the fear, the guilt, the uncertainty, and the various wounds that grief has left in its wake and still offer a hand to hold as we walk forward into whatever the future has in store.
Widowhood has cemented in my brain the message that we only get to live once, so I am going to try to put that fear of disappointment on the back burner and make the most of the adventure that lies ahead.
This photo was taken of Michael and I on the second anniversary of our on-line introduction. We flew over the gorgeous Australian countryside in this plane while I marveled at the places life has taken me. Unimaginable and impossible are definitely not the same thing.