This will not be an easy post for some to read. I acknowledge that. But in the spirit of this blog and the precedents I’ve set herein, it’s also necessary and appropriate.
First, I must give a couple solid book recommendations to anybody who’s become or is dealing with a widower. Abel Keogh writes with feeling and practicality, backed by experience, and I would highly suggest his books on the topic.
Love is.. well, you could finish that sentence a million ways. Thousands of songs and poems have been written in that ever-flowing vein. But allow me to start with this. Love is a strange and wonderful thing. Especially when it happens twice.
For some time, I thought, “Yeah, I had the love of my life, what else could there be?” And suddenly, about 2 years and 2 months after her tragic passing, I found myself again feeling those same life-altering soul-satisfying feelings of devotion and light and purpose. Half unexpected, yet half quite intentional, it seems I had again found the love of my life.
There’s something truly unique about that second love. It’s even more intense, more satisfying, more amazing than before. Because I’d loved and lost, and learned to love again, I knew myself better; I was living more authentically, and I had that extra soul-energy imparted on me by my first beloved.
I’ll explain. When two hearts & souls become one, they don’t take anything away from each other. They ADD to each other; it’s a net-gain of energy, of capacity to love. So the widower’s heart, while broken initially, has in fact more capacity for love than it did when he first discovered it. This allows him to love his new partner with an unprecedented intensity and vigor — a whole new level of love, if you will.
And that is what makes this special. I certainly never thought this would, could happen. I wasn’t even thinking of this whole “capacity for love” concept until I just started writing and reasoning about it. But here we are.
Now let’s be clear. I didn’t just do this all by myself. We didn’t just “fall in love” like normal people. (Neither of us are “normal”, but her story is not mine to tell.) Arriving at this point took a lot of self-work, reflection, thoughtful consideration, and intentionality. “Well those sound like a bunch of new-age-y nonsense words, Nate; what are you really saying?”
It means we didn’t f*ck around. We communicated. Early and often, consistently and openly. Always being mindful of our own feelings and of each other’s; always being conscious of how our budding relationship would affect and involve those around us, such as her kids, our mutual friends, our church family, and our actual families, including my late wife’s family. (The latter, I admit, I am still on uncertain territory with; nobody teaches you how to handle this stuff, and it’s difficult for everyone involved.)
Because we took our time and invested in ourselves, and built a strong foundation of communication and honesty, of living authentically, of honoring our pasts while not dwelling on them, looking forward while living in the present — because of all that, we felt ready to move forward with our relationship in what may seem to some like an accelerated time-frame. But one needs to stomach that with a bit more context. We’re both in our upper 30’s now. We’ve had a few decades to figure out who the heck we are and what the heck we want out of the rest of this thing called life. We’ve also both done a great deal of healing from some traumatic events of the past.
There’s a saying among older folks who find their partners after dating for only a few months (we’ve been at it for nearly 6) — “When you know, you know.” When you’re mature enough, in age, mentality, emotionality, and frankly spirituality, it’s not actually that hard to discern a potential life partner from a short-term lover or FWB or whatever else you need to satisfy your ego. (And make no mistake, I too was completely guilty of those ego-boosting unhealthy behaviors for a while.)
But do me a favor. When you find your person, even when (or especially when) it’s for the second time in a single lifetime, be grateful. Be mindful, be cautious, be communicative. But be unbelievably thankful that you have that chance again. Because the one thing that makes life worth living — the one TRUE thing above all the rest — food, movies, music, friends, family, wealth, health, knowledge, power — no; the one immortal and everlasting thing that we mere humans get to partake in, to bask in and enjoy on this Earth, is love.
You may be a widower, or widow, or a family member or friend of the deceased other-half of said widow/er, reading this and saying it’s nonsense. “How dare you?!?”, “You dishonor your late wife’s memory!”, etc. You’ve every right to feel the way you do. Each journey is different. This is mine. And these are my thoughts on why, and how. Do with them what you will.