One of the most amazing things about having a widow friend to share this bumpy road with is that I always have someone with whom to discuss the daily questions of life. One issue that has occupied Michelle and I (pictured here right after the Widow Dash in San Diego) is the concept of good enough. When you feel that life has already given you an amazing man, a good life that you loved, a great kid or kids, a rewarding career,etc, etc--how do you determine what will be good enough after a large part of this bliss has been ripped away?
Will we be driven by a need for companionship to accept less than? Which begs the question, less than what? This leads to the recollection that life was NOT perfect before our husbands died, but looking back now we know that we would chose that life again and again. Since we are tragically unable go back in time, how do we decide what or whom is good enough to be included in our yet to be determined future?
Over the years Michelle and I have often discussed the need to know what we are looking for in a new partner. To help us stay on track, and avoid settling for less than, we have complied a very thorough set of criteria for our next man. Some of the specific requirements are ridiculous. In fact, after reading the first list we came up with we determined that we were embarrassed by our shallowness and that we must start the list again. Yes, I am talking about an actual list. It exists, we store this master list in our computers, and we refer to it whenever one or the other of us is in the process of weighing the pros and cons of a new relationship--we've even printed it out more than once. Just to be clear, not every man we meet is subjected to the rating process and this quality check does not happen immediately. Only when we begin to get serious does the question, "Is it time to get out the list?" surface.
There are a few requirements regarding the list. First, the friend that is not in the relationship does the rating based on what she has witnessed over the course of the relationship, I know, harsh. Second, complete honesty is a must, no beating around the bush or fibbing to save feelings. Third, we must be together when discussing the checklist, this process cannot be done alone! Fourth, sometimes retesting is required! Fifth, the final score is non-negotiable. We inevitably end up in hysterics after carefully weighing the pros and cons of the current suitor. Yes, we really do evaluate men. Sorry we feel it must be done. And we do attempt to be openminded, honest.
Perhaps you have already read between the lines and realized that this rating process is really a widow gut check. Michelle and I do our best to keep ourselves, and each other, honest about the times we might be willing to settle for less just to have someone with whom to share our daily lives. We remind each other to believe in the possibility of finding deep and meaningful love again, and also that sometimes we might be settling for a place holder instead of continuing to look for the real deal. But death has taught us that life is short, and having loved deeply has taught us that waiting for the right one is a worthwhile endeavor. I wish I could tell you that rediscovering love is easy, but like most worthy ventures finding a new and different love often takes both patience and effort. A good list, and an even better friend, can be helpful, too!