Sit With It

Someone else.

For three years and a couple of months now, those words and that concept has been one that I simply cannot deal with or even picture. For 3 years, the very idea of someone else, someone other than my husband who I’m supposed to grow old with decades from now, sent me into instant panic. It still does. It still makes me shake and feel like maybe I’m coming down with something. In the beginning, and for maybe the first 2 years post-loss, whenever anyone even mentioned me possibly thinking about “dating” again or “getting back out there” or any of those other cliche and expected things put upon me, I would instantly feel sick to my stomach. The very concept of someone else literally made me sick.

Not too much has changed in 3 years. I no longer feel physically ill at the mere mention of a non-Don human coming my way, but now it is more of an extreme intense sadness. About a month ago, my grief-therapist innocently asked me in session: “So how are you doing with the whole relationships thing? Have you thought about it at all?” I started sobbing. Just instant sobs. Another time, more recently, she asked me if any “opportunities” had come my way, and how I felt about it if they had? Again, sobbing. She looked almost shocked, which is rare, and like she truly felt empathy for me and didn’t know how to help. She just said: “Wow, this topic is really loaded for you, isn’t it? I think it might be a very long time before you are ready to even be able to consider this as a possibility in your life. And that is totally okay. Don’t let anyone push you. You aren’t ready. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be one day. Just sit with it for now.”

Okay. Sit with it. She says that a lot. At first, it kind of annoyed me. Sit with it. What the hell does that even mean? But now I get it, and I actually sort of like it. It means I don’t need to be ready to move forward in this particular area right now, and that I will be ready whenever I’m ready. So don’t stress over it – just let it marinate inside your heart for awhile. Sit with it.

So that is what I have been doing. The problem is, when it comes to the concept of “someone else,” everyone else on earth seems to have an opinion and a judgment about it. Not only that, but people of the male variety have been approaching me a lot lately, asking for my number, talking and flirting with me out of nowhere, and generally making themselves known to me. This is very foreign to me. I was married for almost 5 years, and before that, I was with Don for an additional 8 years or so. So for about 13 years, I was with Don. And then he died. And now, it seems, the way that guys approach women has changed severely. Lots of times, I will be walking home from the subway, and a guy will just appear out of nowhere, and start having a conversation with me. “Hey what’s up? Are you single? Can I have your number? “, and that sort of thing. I really don’t understand this. Is it a NYC thing? Is it a modern-day thing? Or am I just running into lots of extremely aggressive men, over and over again? And the thing is, with 95% of these men that come up to me, they are not the kind of men that I would ever be interested in. Lots of them happen to be weird-ish or just too aggressive for my liking, or tilting on borderline creepy.

However …

One night, about 2 months ago or so, I was walking home from the subway in my very busy neighborhood in Queens, and I was about maybe 7 blocks from my apartment, when a man seemed to appear out of nowhere and started a conversation with me. “Hi”, he said. “Hi,” I said back, as if it was normal this person was talking to me so casually. He continued walking with me and having small-talk. His existence threw me off a bit, because he was, in many ways, very Don-like. He was wearing some kind of security uniform, which was blue, and looked a lot like my husband’s old EMS uniforms. He had dark hair like Don, and he was wearing a Mets hat, which I immediately mocked him about. “Mets? Really?” He playfully mocked me back about the Yankees jacket I was wearing, and before I knew it, we were only a block from my apartment. I made the decision in my head to tell him I was stopping at the Dunkin Donuts that is on that corner, because I did not want a total stranger knowing where I live. So we stopped, and he said: “Can I pleaase have your number?” I told him no, that I didn’t think so. He said: “Are you single? Cuz if you’re not single, I’ll leave you alone.” I said: “It’s complicated. ” He said, in a kind of funny way: “What’s complicated about it? You’re either single or you’re not single. Which is it?” I said: “My husband died 3 years ago, and I’m just not anywhere near ready for giving out my number and things like that.”

It just sort of came out – me telling him that. He was the first guy that had approached me that didn’t give me a creeper vibe. He said, very sincerely: “I’m really sorry. That is awful. I’m going to just write down MY number and give it to you, and this way if you feel like talking or just wanna get some coffee, you can call me.” So he gave me his name (Stephen), and his number. He said he lived right here in the neighborhood and works as Security in the local Mall, and I said some crap about how maybe we will run into each other again sometime. Non-commital. Vague. Weak.

We parted ways, and I walked around the corner and dissolved into hysterical sobs, right there in the open, autumn air. It affected me for days afterwards. I kept crying over and over. Crying because I’m not ready. Crying because I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready. Crying because I don’t WANT to have conversations with strangers on the street and have to try and decide whether they are sane or not – I want my husband back. Crying because the fact that this person is talking to me and asking me out, means that I can’t just “sit with it” forever. I can’t just put “relationships” on a shelf somewhere and pretend that I no longer need that. I can’t just keep myself super busy with life and friends and work and creative things, and hope that I never notice that it’s been years since being intimate with someone or being someone’s priority. Crying because the world moves much faster than what I feel ready for. Crying because I miss my husband, and talking to a perfectly nice guy for 10 minutes, does nothing but put a huge exclamation point on that fact.

So two months went by. I didn’t think about it much. I did not call him or even think about calling him, honestly. Then last night, I was walking home again from the subway, after a super long day working and then some fun with friends in the city, and suddenly I hear from behind me: “Hey! Hey! Hey! Hey Yankees! Yankees!!! Hey Yankees!” I turned around, and he is running after me, to catch up to me. I am a block from my apartment, on my street. I stop. He says: “Sorry to yell out Yankees like that. I don’t know if you even told me your name last time. Do you remember me?” “Hi Stephen”, I said. We did the small-talk thing again for a few minutes, and then he said: “So you gonna give me your number this time?” Again, I said no. As nice as this guy seems, I dont know him. What if he is some stalker who won’t stop calling me months from now when this all goes haywire? What if he sends me a “dick pic?” (that’s what people are doing these days, right?) What if he wants to start “sexting” from our cell phones? No. No, no, no, no, no. I just cannot live in that world. So again, he wrote his number down on another piece of paper, and we left it at that.

And now, I am not sure where to go from here. He seems like a nice person, and what could it hurt having a cup of coffee with someone? Then again, a guy who randomly approaches strangers on the street must have issues. The whole thing is just odd to me. And why me? Why did he pick me to approach? Both times he stopped me, I looked like absolute hell, so it can’t be that I was just so alluring and gorgeous that he HAD to talk to me. It doesn’t feel like it’s a match of any kind. I didn’t feel any “spark” or anything like that with him. He was simply a nice person. There is a small part of me that wonders if Im supposed to have coffee with this dude for some reason – because now it is TWICE that I have run into him this way. I don’t know. I am not ready for any of this. I really don’t want to be a widow anymore, and I really hate the reality that I am now “single.” I am not quite sure what to do with this place that I find myself in.

I suppose I will just have to sit with it.

Crumb of Cake

Call me crazy, but I’m starting to feel like maybe I’m a little bit crazy.
Is that crazy?

Is it Nuts-ville Crazytown that I feel like I am more in love with my husband now, than ever before? That I would rather have one-way conversations with his spirit or soul, than put any real efforts into possibly finding a new partner who I could actually speak to, human to human? Is it insane that looking at his picture on my nightstand before going to sleep, and saying out loud, in a faint whisper: “Goodnight BooBear – I love you” seems to make more sense to me than saying nothing at all? Seriously – level with me, people – is it time for me to just go and get the straightjacket and try it on for size? Or is there a place that I can go to exist, where there isn’t all this pressure to “move on” or “get myself out there again”, and where having a continued relationship with my dead husband isn’t universally frowned upon?

I know, I know. It sounds crazy. But is it? Is it?

This is the man I chose to spend the rest of my life with. This one. Not another one that I have to go find all over again at age 42. Not someone new that I would have to date, get to know, figure out, play the stupid games, live the “single” life, read their mind, know their heart, and trust with everything. If I already trust everything with the person that I already chose, why should that have to change? How can it? How can I just not be deeply and powerfully in love with my person anymore? How do I train myself to fall out of love with him? How? And if the answer is that I don’t have to, and that I can still love him forever – then how do I go forward in my life having this all-encompassing love for a person who no longer walks the earth? My heart hurts with how much I love him, and with the reality that our time together here is gone. Four and a half years of marriage will just never be enough for me. Not ever.

Imagine being a baker, and spending 7 years of life creating the most delicious, incredible, perfect chocolate cake – that took you until you were 35 years old to get the recipe just right, and you were so proud of your cake and you just wanted to savor in it and taste it over and over and over until time ended – and one quarter of the way through your first, tiny bite of enjoying all your hard work and your creation, before your taste-buds could even react – a large and menacing hand snatches the cake away abruptly, and proceeds to smash it into tiny crumb bits, all over the floor. “But I only got one quarter of a bite!”, you scream in protest. It’s too late. Nobody cares. You only got a crumb of cake, and the rest was taken away for no reason at all. Time’s up. (Leave it to the fat widow to come up with a cake analogy.)


I don’t know how to do this. My heart is with my husband, and my husband is not here. And even though it is never fair or never enough, to have this new, other-wordly relationship with him – and it’s not even close to the same thing as actually having him here with me – this is what we have now. We have this. And there is a very large part of me, that would rather have this with my husband, than have something unknown with anybody else.

My whole life, nobody was ever in love with me. Nobody ever returned my feelings back. Nobody ever protected me or made me feel safe or truly, deeply loved. Nobody. Not until I met Don. Not in high school, not in college, not after college – nowhere. Nobody. I dated a lot of idiots over those young years. I had boyfriends. Some were nice, some were not. But none of them were deeply, madly in love with me. When I finally, FINALLY met my person – I was almost 29 years old. He was in Florida, I was in New Jersey. We bonded in a music chat room online, and became instant friends. And then more. He flew out to meet me, and then we were in love. I told him things about me that nobody else knew, or knows. I shared with him my soul and my fears and my heart. For 7 years, we dated long-distance, until he packed up his life and moved to New Jersey for me. Because he loved me deeply and madly. He supported me and cheered me on in my dreams. We were a team. Always a team.

Now he is gone. I know how to live without him. I’m learning, and it isn’t easy, but I know I can do it, and I know I will be okay. I know how to live without him. But how do I love without him?

If I’m being totally honest, and I always am in my writing, I will say that I am terrified. I am scared to death of growing old all alone, and dying all alone. Even more, I am frightened beyond words that he was my only person. That for the rest of my years, nobody will ever love me in that beautiful, amazing, trust-you-with-my-life sort of way, ever again. I live in terror that I will be granted a long, healthy life – never being allowed another bite of that cake.