My friends were right.
Nineteen months after Ed died, when I told them I was ready to start dating and had, in fact, asked someone out, they said I would surely screw it up.
“Plan on screwing up at least the first few,” my friend Mary said.
I didn’t know what she meant, and I wasn’t thinking in terms of more than one. I was just thinking about this particular guy who had caught my attention.
For the purposes of this blog, we’ll call the poor guy, Poor Guy. I picked him up on a Saturday night. I got terribly cold feet about an hour beforehand and actually texted my younger daughter to say, “I don’t think I can do this.” I was crying.
She told me I’d be fine, and I tried to believe her as I drove. I could not imagine having fun or even being able to relax and make conversation.
When I drove in his driveway, Poor Guy was standing there. I took a double take. “Whoa. Who is that?” I asked myself. He was cuter than I remembered. Much. I think that’s when brain cells and common sense started leaking out. I didn’t realize then this is what my friends had seen coming.
We ate dinner in Amherst, and I did, in fact, start to relax. When we walked along Main Street, Poor Guy took my hand, and I let him. It was odd. I had to keep looking down to see why it didn’t feel like Ed’s hand and that was because it was not Ed’s hand. It was Poor Guy’s.
And I liked it.
By the time Poor Guy said goodnight, I was so pleased. I hadn’t expected to feel happy. Alive.
And that’s when the exodus of good sense began in a flood, and it continued for the following 10 or so days. I acted not unlike my five-month-old golden retriever puppy, Lipton, with my attention seeking and tail wagging, wondering when Poor Guy was going to take me on another walk.
Poor Guy tried to get me to calm down, see things his way. He said the human equivalent of the training words we use with Lipton: “Off.” “Leave it.” “Down.”
What he didn’t understand was that after living for so long, thinking I would never be happy again, something sprang loose, and I just couldn’t get it back in the right place. But I think I’ve righted myself and rediscovered my solid center. I think my frontal lobe has reconnected.
Poor Guy has been good and patient, and so my message for widows – and widowers – out there is: It will get better. There will come a time when a hand in your own need not be your late husband’s to make you smile.
There will come a time when you can laugh at yourself and feel like you’ve joined the rest of the world. It will feel good. I can’t tell you how long it will take, but I have hope for you that it’s coming.
I am so close to done on the final edit of my book, Divine Renovations. After it leaves my hands, it will go back to Editor Margot Cleary for one final round of tightening and tweaking, and then it will come to readers.
I hope you’re eagerly awaiting it.