Ok. So. A LOT of things have happened in the past week for me. And just days ago, one of the biggest new firsts happened. One I have wondered about and feared and dreaded for two and a half years. I can't even believe I'm going to share this... like, PUBLICLY, but it's part of the journey. So here goes.
I spent this past week up in the Alaskan wilderness with Drew's mom, grandma, and aunt. His grandma is 91 years old and had never seen the northern lights, so we decided to take her. The trip was wonderful. We stayed at a remote lodge an hour and a half north of Fairbanks... and by remote I mean there is NOTHING out there but this lodge, some moose, and pure wilderness. No cell service. No internet. All their power is geothermal from the hot springs that run through the area. I had no idea of all this until we arrived, but I welcomed unplugging from the world for a while. So rarely do I get a chance to.
We went out Tuesday night for a viewing up on one of the nearby hills for the lights – and they were out all night long. For 4 whole hours, we enjoyed an incredible show. His grandma got to achieve one of her lifelong dreams. I captured pictures of the entire expereince for her and all of us to look back on. We also did a short sunset flight, a dogsled ride (yes, a 91 year old woman on a dogsled! And she wanted the ride to be even longer!) and got to drink appletinis out of glasses carved from ice. Spending this trip with two generations of my fiance's family was so incredibly special to me. To be there to watch his grandma enjoy a lifelong dream for him – my heart overflowed. To see the lights myself, to watch them dance thru the sky, brought me to tears. Because he brought me there. And he keeps bringing me to amazing places in this “after” life.
But something else happened on this trip. And its crazy and weird as shit to actually write this in conjunction with all I just wrote above... but... a VERY big personal milestone happened.... involving several beers and a VERY handsome young man who worked as a waiter at the lodge restaurant. Yeah, you know where I'm going with this. Everyone... after two and a half years, I officially lost my “widginity” as I am calling it - or widow virginity.
And yeah that's an entirely appropriate way to say it I think, because the first time after the death of your loved one really is JUST as big of a deal as the real first time. Every first thing is. The first time someone holds you. The first time you kiss someone. Hold hands. And definitely the first time you have sex. Everyone does this differently. Some folks jump right into it, others have to wait years. I have never been an impulsive person nor have I ever had casual sex before, so, I have ended up in the latter category. Sometimes unwillingly. I cannot express to you how many times I just want to be able to go ho it up. Don't judge, you know if you aren't ho'ing it up, you probably harbor this same secret wish... or you will at some point.
So as it goes down, I'm on the last night of my trip, at the lodge bar having a few drinks with the staff as they wind up for the night. Before long, an especially delicious looking waiter ends up joining me for drinks after his shift. I mean this guy could be a model. There is not an ounce of fat on him and muscles galore. Seriously not someone I would ever attempt to approach... then again, the new me lately seems to be full of surprises.
We chat a good while and get to know each other. When we leave the bar, we run into each other out on the trail back to our rooms. We chat a moment there in the cold, snowy wilderness, and I just think to myself “it's my last night, it's now or never, fuck it!”. I grab this gorgeous man and give him a kiss. Which leads to some heavy making out. Which leads to my asking to go back to his cabin.
Yeeeep. That's where it all happens... right there on the mattress... which is on the floor. Yes, the floor. It was like a Dirty Dancing sequel y'all. All we were missing was that "Hungry Eyes" song (which I so should have played since I have the soundtrack on my phone - damn the delayed realization!) This story is made even better by the fact that he had no bathroom... so I am forced to run the 30 or so feet to his outhouse in the cold (NINE degrees) in nothing but a blanket and my snow boots. Yes. You are welcome for the visual. Ah where life takes you when you live in the present moment - lol.
All joking aside, the amazing thing is, it was nothing like I feared it would be. It wasn't traumatic. It didn't trigger me drastically. It didn't feel shallow or empty or like I was pushed into anything. We laid in bed, drank chocolate milk, watched comedy specials, laughed together, shared stories, and took our time with all the rest. I told him back at the bar about losing Drew, so that was out there already. Before anything happened, I was also very up front that this is the first time for me since he died. I wanted him to know that beforehand, because I was pretty sure I'd get upset at some point, and he needed to know why. I also said it so he could know this was a very deliberate and conscious decision which he needed to handle carefully and respectfully.
Sure enough, shortly after we began to make love, I got overwhelmed. We stopped, and he just held me, and I cried in his arms for a few minutes while he reassured me that it was okay. I didn't have to say a word. In that moment, even though he barely knew me, all this man cared about was making certain I felt safe and cared for. And even though I barely knew him, and he was not Drew, I allowed myself to be cared for by him. I allowed myself to be cared for. That is HUGE. It was strangely beautiful to think - while in the arms of another man - how much it would make Drew happy to see me being cared for so lovingly. I swear I could feel broken pieces of my heart melding back together.
We made love on and off for a few hours that night before he finally walked me back to my room. I say “made love” because it felt surprisingly like that, despite the fact that we barely knew each other. We weren't two broken people trying to use sex as a band-aid, we were two healthy people who made a conscious choice to share something beautiful together for a night. I've never had casual sex before this, so I honestly had no idea there could be love between near strangers that way. I was left so surprised by this - and even more surprised that I did it. I mean, who is this chick?! Ho'ing it up now whenever she damn well pleases, on her own terms, and not beating herself up one bit about it? Whoever she is, I think I like her. My god I am full of surprises in this damned "after" life.
The most wonderful part of this entire experience though was something even bigger. Seeing how it fit together with my love for Drew. It didn't make his space in my heart smaller. It didn't move him farther away from me or erase him or make my love for him any less. He was there in my heart, just the same, even through this experience. And when it was all over, and this sweet man walked me back to my room, kissed me one last time with a coy smile, and we said our goodbyes... I knew in a brand new way, that no one will ever be able to move Drew from my heart. No one will take his place. No one will erase him or take up more room than him in my heart. I learned in a brand new way that my heart will only get bigger to accommodate others, but that it will only begin to grow when it is healed enough and ready to. I think because I have not rushed this, and because I have waited until I truly felt ready, it has allowed it to be a positive experience. In the past few days following all this, it has only more deeply solidified the understanding in me that Drew isn't ever going anywhere. And I never have to be afraid - because I will not ever lose him twice.