On line dating may have made me miss Tom more than any other single event. Because I met him on line I think somewhere in the back of my brain I thought I could just pop back to the store for a replacement, kind of like when your huge basement reserve of toilet paper finally runs out. I only had one date with someone else before I met Tom although I had been distracted with some emailing back and forth with a couple other prospects. I knew what I wanted–true love and forever–and was willing to fight hard when I saw it in my grasp with Tom. Our hardest days were the courtship ones–many stories to tell, many imperfections to reveal and accept–but once we were finally over that hump it was the smoothest sailing of any relationship I’ve ever had.
Of all the things I miss (and the list is volumes long) the biggest loss is the feeling that no matter what each day brought, no matter what we planned or didn’t, I would always have fun just because I would be with him. I felt happy and secure in his love. I was so looking forward to growing old with him, playing out the rest of the movie script I carried in my head of us living at the cottage full time, going south in the winter, having dinners with friends, hiking and biking and maybe even snowshoeing and singing in the church choir. I wanted that life—with him –and I am still, 15 months later, mad and sad as hell that it’s not going to happen.
I thought I was taking all the right healing steps—grief group, crying, reading about grief, reflecting on my own, staying involved in things I enjoy, making sure I see people every day—but right now I feel back at square one. Each day has the walking-through-a-foggy-swamp character that the early days and weeks had and I am not sure where to turn. The very nicest man I met on line, whom I have now sent away for liking me too much (I know), had the wisdom and kindness to ask gently before even meeting me if I felt ready to re-enter the wonderful/horrible dating world again. I responded as honestly as I could– “I don’t know”– but now think maybe I was not.
I had a momentary burst of youthful energy and excitement and even felt like a red-blooded woman again, but the way I could immediately picture fusing my life with that of nearly every one of the men I met is deeply troubling. Clearly this time I have no IDEA what I am looking for except maybe to feel less sad and lonely and hopeless and that is not a good foundation for building any relationship.
I now scroll through the dozens of profiles on my computer and feel nothing but weary. No, I do not want to be pen pals with someone in Florida. No, I don’t think it is reasonable to try to date someone living an hour or more away. No, I cannot pretend to like loud concerts or Nascar and if you post a picture of your Harley instead of yourself it is doubtful you are my guy. And as ridiculous as it sounds, the men my age look OLD and that is the one bad thing I don’t feel right now, at least not yet.
But the real trouble is none of them are my guy. My guy was here and gone in a flash and I am now sometimes forgetting the exact crinkles by his eyes or how his hand felt in mine. How in the world do people ever move on? How do they manage to keep the sweet memories and cherish what they have had and lost without just folding up their little tent called life, or at least romantic life, and calling it a day?
My friend lost the love of her life and reunited with her very first boyfriend, who had never stopped loving her. She says she is sure he understands that she has already loved and lost her truest love but is still happy to be with her. They enjoy each other, have fun and are a couple. It seems to work. There is a quality of “settling” to it that bothers me, but really what are the alternatives? If the love of your life is gone you either find someone else to be with or you go the remaining distance alone and that just isn’t what I want.
When your best friend and your sister (even if you are in the middle of an epic fight) both utter the word “therapy” to you in the same week it might be good to listen. And then there is the much subtler therapist friend who every now and then says “That might be something you want to look at” when serving as first reader for some of my posts. So…. off I go this week to lay my heavy burden at the feet of the kindly woman who ran my grief support group. I don’t really know her and I don’t really know if she can help me sort through the mountain of feelings, but my friend has opined that I am not done grieving and may need some help to go the rest of the way through the tunnel of loss and sorrow and I am not too proud to see the wisdom there.
I’m also scheduling coffee with the wise octogenarian author of a book about his wife’s illness and death. He is 20 years past the tunnel, has a wonderful new partner and a life he loves. I want to be him, but will settle for sitting at his feet and drinking in some sage advice. And as for dating…. the nice man left the door open and I might walk through it at some point and a friend is fixing me up this weekend with a man she dated years ago and thought was terrific. All the rest of the frenzied on line dating world I will try to let go for now as I gather myself in.
And as always in life…..we shall see what we shall see for nothing ever plays out quite the way we expect and there is an equal chance of rainbow or storm cloud right around the bend. I want very much to skip to the last page of the novel to see if it is really worth reading, but that’s not how it works. As my favorite quote from A Wrinkle in Time says: “Nothing is hopeless. We must hope for everything” Thanks, Euripides. I needed that.