It has been now 6 years since my fiance died. Very seldom these days do I have those moments when all I want to do is pick up the phone to call him and tell him about something that happened. Part of that is due to time, and probably part due to being able to share many of our favorite things with my new partner Mike. Having lost my mom when I was 9 and my dad at 26, I think has to do with it too. I simply have SO many moments in my life that I wish I could call all three of these people to share with them, that I think over the years, I’ve become a bit numb to it. It’s just part of my life to such a degree that most of the time, it doesn’t even occur to me anymore that another reality could exist where I could call them up and talk to them.
And then yesterday happened…
Mike, his daughter Shelby, and I went to a local baseball game that I’ve been looking forward to for months. They often have guests at the games, and this game in particular there was to be one of the actors from the tv show Scrubs. What’s special about this is that it is my all-time favorite tv show, and a show that Drew and I both loved and watched throughout our relationship. There were countless inside jokes we shared that related back to the show, and countless memories spent on the couch together laughing. It’s silly to think that a show could mean so much, but there’s always one or two shows that do weave their way into our hearts in a deeper way.
This show also became a theme in my new life with Mike too. He was a fan before we met, and since we have enjoyed the same sort of memories and inside jokes together with this show. In fact, there is even a particular song in the show that has become our song. It feels in a way like this beautiful continuation of something that began with Drew and I.
So here I am, at the ball game, waiting in line to meet and get an autograph from one of the actors of the show, with my new person. I was so nervous and excited. We got a picture with him, and I got to briefly tell him how I’ve watched the show since the beginning and it’s our favorite show and such. But there was so little time, and more people in line. And so much more I wanted to say. I wanted to tell him about the whole history. About it being part of my old life and now my new life, and meeting him was somehow some exciting part of that whole thing. But there wasn’t time. I left feeling excited but also sad. And I tried to fight off the sadness the rest of the game, but it was definitely there...
As soon as we got our autograph, I wanted to call everyone I knew to tell them about it. Only… no one else I know really even watches the show. No one else I know would have even really gotten how big of a deal it was. Quite simply, I realized that there was only one person to call and share what we’d just done… and he was dead.
I tried so hard to shake the sadness off for the rest of the game. Of course, you can’t really shake sadness off. By the time we finally went to bed, the emotions erupted. And my heart filled with a sadness I haven’t felt in a long time… yearning just to call my first best friend to tell him what my new best friend and I just did.
On the positive end, having a new partner who gets this feeling makes me so deeply appreciative. I could have easily ended up dating someone who was insecure or could not muster the empathy to support me in these moments. But Mike knows that it’s not about wishing Drew was here instead of him, but just that he was somehow able to share in it. No part of me wished that instead of Mike, Drew was standing there meeting this actor with me. Only that I could call him and say “Guess what we just did!!!!”. Or even weirdly better, have both of them there for that moment together with me.
It feels so healing to be able to cry in the arms of my new person, and say to him “I just miss him so much” and have that received with love and acceptance and kindness.
From the very beginning of this journey, I feared how on earth I could ever be with someone new. I feared that I would be too messy, and too complicated to love. I feared there would be not enough room in my heart to love two men. I feared that no new man would really be able to be comfortable welcoming Drew as a part of our life. But I also believed. I believed I could find that kind of love. I believed that I could meet someone who would love all of me, and who would welcome Drew as part of our life. I believed there was another guy out there just as great as my first guy, and that one day I’d find him.
Without getting too obnoxiously cheesy there, this painful moment has reminded me that the ideal I held in my heart and believed in for nearly three years after Drew’s death, is now something that is real. Which means, for anyone else who has those same fears I did, it is a reality that will one day happen in your life too - should that be what you wish for. Because now I know for sure…. That we widowed people are not too messy or too complicated to be loved. We have so much more room in our hearts than we realize at first. There is always, always room for the person we lost and new persons too. You don’t need to worry about how to fit it all in, because your heart will grow instead to the size it needs to hold all that love. We can absolutely find someone new to share our life with that will not only honor our first partner, but will welcome them into our lives with open hearts and arms.
I held that hope and that belief for years before I saw a glimmer of it’s truth in my own life. And it doesn’t mean this new love has been all glory and no guts… it’s been a lot of work too. A lot of butting heads as we are learning how to communicate and understand each other’s histories - with a bunch of grief mixed in on both sides to boot. But ultimately, what I’m finding is this…
What a beautiful thing it is, that we do not have to ever say goodbye, not really. Because they can come with us - forever. Into every new chapter of our story. And even when we are reminded that we cannot see them or call them up on the phone, the love we share with others in our life is a reminder that their love is still reaching us. Through friends, through new loves, through family, through experiences we have. It’s all connected. In a way... no one’s ever really gone. Whenever I look at this picture, I think I will remember that. Drew is there... in the joy of it all.