Yesterday I accompanied some friends to what I thought was going to be a Fourth of July party at the beach here in Kona. When I arrived, the host, dressed in white with a beautiful lei, handed me a program…we were actually there for a surprise wedding! A few people, it turns out, had known, but I had no idea. I had only seen my friend with her new boyfriend out and about and they looked really happy together…and I knew my friend had faced some scary health issues in the past year, so that made me doubly happy she was doing so well.
They told their story to the assembled group. The happy couple had met just over three months before at a popular watering hole in town. Both had been feeling down about their single status…but when they met they had eyes for no one else, right from the first minute. Knowing what a smart, strong person my friend is, mother of six gorgeous grown daughters by the way who were all also there, and seeing how this man treated her and the light in her eyes, I knew this was something very, very good indeed.
Sitting there in my beach chair dressed not for a wedding but for a July 4 party in my red, white and blue, my mind sank back to memories of my own wedding with Mike. How could it not? Will we ever be able to attend another wedding without thinking of our lost loves and that epic day we shared with them? Like my friends, when Mike and I met, we knew right away it was meant to be. We also married just over three months later, on a beach in Hawaii.
It didn’t seem that long ago when I was the bride, looking forward to a long marriage with my special guy. But it was a long time ago. Almost 17 years. And I didn’t even get 14 years with him. As unfair as that felt, I wished my friends a long and happy union. No one wants to even glimpse that possibility of loss on such a happy day. No one wants to imagine that what we’ve gone through as widowed people might someday happen to someone else we know.
Should we refrain from new relationships and new marriages to avoid more of that pain? Of course not. Life is indeed meant to be lived, as fully and happily as we can manage. If we decide to move forward into a new union we must try and do so with open hearts full of love, not fear. But it’s not for everyone. I know a lot of widowed people who feel strongly that they will never want to marry anyone else; some are not even at all interested in new relationships. I get that. I really do. I will always feel married to Mike even though he’s not around anymore to laugh with, to hug, to tell him I love him, and have him answer back.
My musician boyfriend was not with me yesterday, which was fine. He works nights so an early beach party is not always his thing and of course we had no idea it was going to be a wedding. It gave me a chance to spend time with my girlfriends - the bride, known for her fun games at parties, had planned a scavenger hunt for the time between the ceremony and the reception back at their condo, so five of us raced around town taking pictures of all the items on the list. It was actually really fun and our team ended up winning…but it was the time spent with my girlfriends that meant the most.
Back at the reception I had several conversations with friends about life, and relationships. It has all given me pause. While I feel immensely grateful for everything that has happened in my life the past three years, meeting the musician and all the friends surrounding his world, I am considering that my future may lay elsewhere for awhile. I have mentioned this before. But it’s all becoming much more real. The rest of this year will be very telling, I think.
When this posts I will be on the mainland again. I am visiting family back east, and then, will take off on a short adventure by myself. I will tell more as the month goes on. But I am not resting in this pseudo-peace here. I am not frozen in place. I am not going to let my grief dictate my future. I am not afraid to lose my house, because I’ve already experienced the worst loss there is. I am determined to do what the best thing is for me, because as we all know, time is too damn short, and there’s a lot of life and world out there to discover. I want to allow life to toss me a few more good surprises.
And Mike will be in my heart, and in my thoughts. That will be true for the rest of my life no matter where I go.