I have been thinking a lot lately about something Michele Neff Hernandez, our editor, said in a workshop over a year ago about finding new love. Back then, I was nowhere near wanting new love. But I knew someday I would want it. So I attended this workshop at Camp Widow in Tampa, and listened to what she had to say. The thing I remember most is her explaining that her new husband is the perfect fit for the new Michele. And her first love was the perfect fit for THAT Michele. She was two different women, and there was in fact a perfect match for each of them.
I've held onto this bit of wisdom a long time. I like the idea of it, although I have not been able to grasp just what that feels like until now. How right she was.
It's a very surreal feeling. I have this new person I've spent the past few months getting to know. A new energy. But also a familiar one. He is quite similar to Drew in a lot of ways. His character and integrity are rock solid. He and Drew would have been fast friends in fact, of that I have no doubt. He is kind, patient, ambitious and incredibly dedicated - just as Drew was. He's a goofball and a big kid at heart, just like Drew. But there are differences too. He is more creative, and more sentimental than Drew was. He's a talker and Drew was a bit more the silent type (I laugh at him frequently in fact for talking as much as I do... which is A LOT) Somehow, I always thought that "differences" would be a bad thing. That I would see someone new as "less than" Drew and end up comparing them a lot. I haven't been able to really see Michele's idea play out personally until now. So I have been very scared of that - of my love for Drew getting in the way of seeing and appreciating a new man.
This hasn't been the case at all. It's exactly as she described to me two years ago. In fact, the differences between them have made me appreciate both of them even more. There are things I loved about Drew that the new guy doesn't share. And there are things about the new guy that I really love that Drew didn't share. I think that is the most surprising part of all... that there could be qualities in a new man I could love just as much... and the differences actually enhance the whole experience instead of diminishing it.
It is plainly true, I am a new and very different person from the woman I was when Drew died. I'm sitting here right now wondering how on earth I got from June 12, 2012 to writing about some new man. This whole journey is surreal. But I am beginning to learn some new things about love. It is possible to have two matches... one for the woman I was, and one for the woman I am. And for neither of them to compete or be less or more than the other - just two different versions of the same beautiful thing: love.
Are there are moments when I compare the two of them? Moments when I wish Drew was here instead? Moments when all of this feels upsetting and overwhelming and I just want to run to the arms of the one who is no longer here? Absolutely. I'm only human. And those moments are teaching me things too. Like that fact that this new person is in no way threatened by my love for Drew. Quite the opposite, we talk about him all the time. It is like they know each other... like we are all family.
The last time I got upset and was feeling conflicted about the two of them, he said to me, "You are allowed to love Drew the very same amount that you love me. Forever. It never has to be any less, and it never will be, nor should it be". I cried, and I let my guard down completely for the first time in a long time. How beautiful it was to receive those words. To receive the love of this new man, only because Drew died. I did not know it was possible, but the love of this new man has actually made me feel Drew's love tenfold, and made me love him even more. And it has shown me that really, in the end, it is all just love flowing between us. Between Drew and I, between this new man and I, and between them, too.