So I want to tell you about something that happened a while back. As I type it, it seems silly today, but at the time it was a big deal for me.
My sweetheart and I have a crazy story, go figure. Some of you know parts of it, none of you know all of it, but one day you might. Not today. Today, I will share a little about a special lady named Donna, B’s late wife who passed away from cancer in March 2017. We had been good friends for over three decades, we had worked together, gone to the beach together, I’d gone to see them when they brought home their son 30 years ago. I was there the day she passed away. Donna is simply a part of us, in his home, in our stories and laughter and tears. She’s in the portraits on the wall, the last ones taken before she passed, the ones I took as a photographer . . . tell me that’s not crazy. Some days it is even crazy to me but I walk past them and see her that day, knowing why she asked me to do them, her treatments were about to start again, she just knew. But yet, I see laughter and love and that can’t be forgotten.
A few months into our dating, B mentioned that Donna loved daffodils and I told him how much I loved them too! They are my favorites and he has some growing in his backyard but for some reason, he seemed reluctant to cut them. Then one day he called me and said something like, “Guess what? I picked daffodils for someone today,” and my heart raced. At this point, he had not given me flowers or a card or written me a cute little sticky note, nothing like that, so my heart jumped. I couldn’t believe he had picked me daffodils for me! Like an excited toddler trying to play it cool, I said, “You did?!” and he responded, “Yes, I’m taking them to Donna’s grave today. Do you want to go with me?” I don’t need to explain how I felt in that moment. I hurriedly agreed to go and got off the phone and cried. A lot. It wasn’t about going to the grave, I do that all the time and consider it an honor to Donna. I cried because he seemed to forget how much I loved daffodils too, how much I needed those flowers. I cried to myself, “I love daffodils too! I’m right here, she’s not here. She can’t enjoy them the way I would. I’m in front of you and she’s not.” And the biggie, “Will he ever be able to let her go?”
I look back now and realize that day for me was not about daffodils or Donna. She deserves every one of them. It was about my fear, my insecurities, my unknowns. It was about my competing with a woman who could not compete which sounds ridiculous as I type it. Today, I realize that daffodil day led me to see that the ways he does treat me are beautifully and specifically ways that are ours, not theirs. He is so good to me and more importantly, he is a good man. He is a good man. I am thankful. I still don’t have a cute sticky note with his handwriting on it or a little heart or anything but it’s just not his thing, lol.
I’ve now learned more about second loves and also widowhood than I ever thought possible. I lost a marriage by choice; he lost a wife with no choice. It is not the same. I walked away from my marriage; he never wanted to walk away from this woman he’d loved for 40+ years. It is not the same. Their retirement years will never happen the way they dreamed and planned, nor will mine, but they are not the same. The little things, pictures on the wall, a pocketbook still in its place, jewelry, clothes in a closet. . . if you’ve been there, you know. But the best lesson I’ve learned is that the way they loved each other, the way he respects her to this day, the husband he was (whew), all those things formed him into this man who was placed in my life, the one I admire and respect and love (I mean his Mama helped a lot too but you know what I mean!). Do I have days I feel tucked in her shadow? I am human and I am a woman so the answer is yes. Do the shadows get shorter as our days get longer? Yes, absolutely, and certainly. One day at a time.
I have no idea why I’m sharing this except to say, if you have a mate who’s been married before whether to the love of their life who’s gone or a crazy ex, try to put that book on the shelf. It can’t be unwritten and nor should it be. The stories in those old pages formed the person you love today by teaching them how to love or how not to love but they can’t affectyour chapters unless you keep rereading them. Your pages are laying wide open, go write some beautiful ones, bunches of them, draw little flowers on the edges. Or better yet, press a few along the way. . . daffodils would look really pretty, just sayin’.