In the summer of 2008—nine and a half years after my husband Steve was struggling to beat the cancer that took his life—I will marry a man named Alex.
Yes, I have found new joy in my life again with a partner. It’s a new type of joy because I had to re-invent myself and embrace a new normal. A different type of joy was born.
Yes, I have no doubt this new marriage will be equally as fulfilling as the last. It will be different because I am different and Alex is not Steve. But a different type of fulfilling is wonderful.
And yes, I’m happy to report that it’s possible to love—and be loved—multiple times in one’s life with the same, but different, vigor, passion, and feeling of ethereal transcendence that only a great relationship can bring.
Okay, so now you are wondering how this all unfolded, and how I can continue to work with grievers (especially fresh ones) now that I’ve “graduated” in a way to a new life. You probably wonder what Alex thinks of all this, too. Let me explain.
I met Alex four and a half years after Steve died. I had decided that I would date when I felt that I was whole enough to attract someone who was equally whole. I had a lot of work to do on myself. I began making new hobbies, taking lessons in new things and opening up my world. I took rebuilding myself seriously but I never believed that I would find someone else that could be a real partner because my marriage had been so good. For the first four years, I was okay with being single. I wanted friends. I wanted to laugh again. Around year four, I decided that I wanted a companion. I had no intention of ever getting married again. I wanted to share life with someone but keep my space.
When I met Alex, I knew from our first meeting that he was special. I knew instantly that we were a match but I wasn’t sure if he’d ever call again. Frankly, I was okay with that. It just felt great to know that what I wanted existed.
I told Alex that I was widowed and in the process of publishing my first book for my website. He liked the fact that I had a great marriage and felt that the skills that I had in a good marriage relationship would be a benefit. After my books were published, I asked him not to read them. I told him that they were my past and he was my present and I need to keep them separate. The relationships that I have on my website are very important to me and Alex respects and honors that. He never goes on my site.
It took me a long time to let go and really love Alex with an open heart. I loved who he was but I wasn’t in love. I had too many memories and too much guilt for being happy again. I did a lot of work on myself and allowed myself to know and believe that Steve would want me to be happy with someone. He actually told me to fall in love and get married again but that seemed ludicrous.
I feel very blessed today. I have three major chapters in my personal book of life. One chapter is with Steve who gave me the guidelines for joy and a soul mate. The second chapter is when I was single, learning to re-invent myself, find a new normal and a different kind of joy. The third chapter is with Alex. I don’t compare Alex to Steve. They are different men and I am a very different woman now. Losing Steve changed me forever.
I wore an engagement ring from Alex for three years that represented our commitment to each other without an intention to set a marriage date. The topic of marriage came up four years later, after a trip to visit our grandchildren. After Steve died, and while I was with Alex, my stepdaughter who I raised (Steve was a widower when I met him) married and had two boys. Alex and I have been grandparents for four years and cherish this experience. When the vacation ended with the kids, for the first time, there was something missing. Alex and I realized that we needed a higher spiritual bonding with each other. Living together wasn’t enough. We wanted the full commitment in our value system.
I feel very secure in this decision. I know that Steve would want us to be a big family. We honor his memory. The grandchildren believe that they have two grandfathers. One, Grandpa Steve, is an angel in heaven that looks over them. The other, Grandpa Alex, lives on Earth with them.
I have worked very hard on my thought system to learn to stay in the moment. I cherish everything as it is happening and know that this is the only moment I have. This thought process keeps me from worrying that something could happen to Alex or me. I don’t want to give fear any energy. But if something does come up, I share it with Alex. The sharing process helps to dissipate my fears. One of the strengths about Alex is he makes me feel safe with his words and thoughts.
I believe it’s very important to learn how to be happy alone. Our life does not have to be empty if we aren’t in a relationship. And if we want to meet someone, that could be an option but not the focus of our life. I think it’s important to have hobbies, interests, join groups and clubs so the people we meet have similar interests. When we focus on our personal growth and enjoying life, our good energy will attract others.
I don’t believe that time heals wounds at all. It’s what we do with the time. I believe that time gives us the strength to develop skills and tools to move forward but we must do the work. We must re-invent ourselves, our lives, find a new normal with a different kind of joy. It’s a complete process.