“Sometimes I feel like there’s a hole inside of me, an emptiness that at times seems to burn. I think if you lifted my heart to your ear, you could probably hear the ocean….I have this dream of being whole. Of not going to sleep each night, wanting. But still, sometimes, when the wind is warm or the crickets sing…I dream of a Love that even Time will lie down and be still for. I just want someone to Love me. I want to be seen. I don’t know. Maybe I had my happiness. I don’t want to believe it, but…”
These are words spoken by Sally, one of the characters in one of my most favorite movies…Practical Magic. She writes them to her sister after she, herself, is widowed. Wondering about Love and life, as so many of us do. As I wonder, often.
Did I have my Love story? So many women and men don’t get one Love story; how greedy is it to think that I could have two?
And yet, I hear of second Love stories happening in the widowed communities.
I also hear of the nightmare stories of dating again.
Of the first I think how amazing and beautiful and unlikely and brave beyond measure. What kind of Love must it be that a man or woman willingly opens his/her heart to Love again, knowing the ultimate outcome? You’ve lived it once and you’re willing to live it again. That’s purple heart brave in my book. But that, folks, is the power of Love.
And the nightmare stories that I hear? They sound all too familiar to me, from my dating days back when I was first divorced. I wasn’t good at it then, and I’m fairly sure I’d be a whole lot less good at it now. I’m older, I’ve loved a man fully and completely, and been loved the same way in return. Very high standards and no willingness to lower them in any way. Add in the whole widow thing…i.e. talking endlessly about my dead husband and what a lovely man he was…I’m thinking buzzkill. But how can I not speak of Chuck? I am the woman I am because of my life with him and my life is what it is because I am his widow. Jesus, a mere explanation of all the pink in my life, which is unavoidable, opens everything….
I’ve been told frequently, as I’m sure you have, that I must keep my heart open to Love, so as to be ready for it when it happens. How exactly does one know that one’s heart is open, I wonder? And how the fuck can anyone know for certain that they are ready or not ready? My brain tells my heart to be open, and I believe that it is. I know that Chuck would want that for me but, seriously, how the hell do I know the answer to either of those questions? For the most part, in any case, I believe that life is random. Good things and bad things and everything in between happens. Or not.
I met Chuck randomly. I wasn’t necessarily ready to meet him. I’d been divorced for a few years, had 3 kids and was very sure that I’d never meet a man with any desire to take on a woman with, you know… 3 kids. My heart was actually kind of sealed. I was angry at men, disillusioned, seeking recovery in AA, going to counseling…the whole nine yards. And one day he knocked at my mom’s door, seeking an after-school babysitter for his daughter.
Remember Tienneman Square in China in the 90’s? College students protested and the government sent out the troops. The picture that went around the world was one lone student standing implaceably in front of a huge tank, the gun pointing directly at him. And he stood there, refusing to move.
I was the tank. Chuck was the student. He didn’t move. In the face of my lack of ability to trust, my anger, all of my self-defenses…he didn’t move. He stood there and loved me and he loved my kids and he showed me a way to life that I’d never known existed. I learned to love, to be in love, to trust, to discuss issues…it was beautiful and hard and we found our flow and got better at it every year. I absorbed him and his kindness and his love and humor and caring and oh, the romance that he brought to my life! And my spirit thrived.
I wasn’t ready for any of that, and my heart wasn’t open. Now, without him, I consciously strive to be open and ready, but what the hell do I know if I really am?
Is there a check list somewhere?
My heart craves to be someone’s one. To be someone’s sweetheart, as I was Chuck’s. As I still am. As I will always be, no matter what. My spirit craves a human and present connection. I crave to be swept off my feet with romance…the kind that comes truly and genuinely, not just as grand gestures meant to impress. I crave, again, a love that even time will lie down and be still for. But even as I crave that, I can’t imagine it and I don’t even know that I want it or can accept it from another man. And even if I can and do, I will still and always crave it from Chuck and how the fuck does that work when he’s, you know…dead. There cannot possibly exist in real form, a man who can be all Chuck was, be his own, and fully accept that Chuck will always be present in my life, always in my heart. Is there a man out there strong enough to be all of this?
I don’t know. Who does know, really?
I dream of a Love that Time will lie down and be still for…in my heart or in reality…I don’t know….