Neighbors of the Heart

960.jpgIt's been a few weeks since I shared about going on my first date with someone since my fiancé died. I have been through every wave of emotion imaginable since then. I have cried buckets of tears for how much this experience has made me miss my fiancé. For how much all of this is bringing up old familiar memories and joys I shared with him those years ago. For how much it makes me miss the safety and rock solid trust that I had with him. I have felt paralyzed by the fear of being vulnerable with another man in ANY way. Of allowing any man into that space in my world again - the space where I cry, the space of allowing myself to be comforted. The space my fiancé has held so powerfully in my heart all these years. His space.

I have also felt joy, and butterflies in my stomach, and a giddiness that has been so delightful. I have felt excited by the idea that someone is thinking of me in this light. And I have enjoyed thinking of them in this light too. So all of this, both extremes, have been rushing through me at the speed of light.

I honestly did not expect things to go anywhere after that lunch date. I thought I wasn't ready… not even for the slightest romantic experience. I thought he would fade out of the picture pretty quickly. But since that first date, to my surprise, we've talked pretty much daily. And despite the fact that his presence has triggered a tsunami of emotions in me, I have still found myself feeling open to it. There is something so strangely comfortable about him - it's felt very quickly like old friends. In some unexplainable way, I feel like he's here for a reason.

Last night, we went on a second date - a dinner date. And I cannot remember the last time someone made me laugh so much. Well, that's not true. I can precisely remember… because it was my fiancé - every day together. He lived to make me laugh. It's one of the things I miss the most about him. It has been two and a half years now since someone has made me laugh like that. Since anyone has even cared about making me laugh. So last night felt so beautiful. More than words can say. To have someone care about making me laugh… especially when they know I've had a really hard week with the holidays. How often really does anyone do that for us? Not often at all.

There was another moment that meant even more to me though. More than he'll ever know. It was when we walked back to his truck after dinner. "This is SO WEIRD… because I miss someone else" I said, starting to get visibly upset. He hugged me tightly and said, "I know, and you'll always miss him". My heart nearly burst with those words and I held onto him with everything I had for a few minutes.

Maybe it was just a second date, and maybe I have no idea if this even goes anywhere at all… but in that moment, he gave me a priceless gift. He gave me a small glimpse into what it means to meet a person who is accepting of who I am and respectful of this person's place in my heart forever. He gave me hope I can all find someone who makes sure to let me know there is more than enough room for me to love my fiancé forever.

For almost three years now I have had NO idea how on earth a new man could possibly fit into my world. "I'm too complex. My life is too complicated. Who is going to want to deal with all of this?" I have said many times. "How could any of that possibly work? How could it not just feel like a battle trying to be won in my heart? How could there be room for two people in my heart?" countless other times.

This experience over the past few weeks has made me realize, yes, I am complex and so is my life. But that complexity does not mean I am a burden. In fact it very well may be the opposite… because this complicated life has also made me more lovable, more open, more compassionate, more accepting, and more beautiful. And there are people out there who are looking for that kind of complex beauty in another soul, and who will appreciate it in me.

This experience has also taught me that when new people come into our lives, it doesn't mean that there is less space in our hearts for the person we lost and still love. I have always feared that. But I'm discovering it's not true. Our hearts grow when we let in new people - be it friends or more - and there becomes an entirely new piece of heart created there just for them. They never replace any part of us that loves the one we've lost. They live instead as neighbors of the heart, alongside each other, strengthening and healing our heart in a way we never imagined possible - and doing so together. 

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