I watched Lovely, Still tonight. With every attempt made to not spoil the ending, it cast a harsh light on what love means to me. See, I’m widowed. Have been for nine and a half years. Liz was my soul mate. In every sense of the word. I was holding her hand when she took her last breath. And I will love her forever.
But I don’t get to have that. And I’ve gotta say, that fucking SUCKS! That’s not really what this is about though.
I’ve had a couple of relationships since my wife died. I thought they were going to last forever. And I think the women did too. But the hard truth is, nothing lasts forever. In point of fact, forever only exists for one person in any relationship.
I have a very dear friend who lost her husband to some form of dementia several years ago. A good thirty-year marriage up in smoke. For her, forever ended the day life got too difficult to live with him. Who knows what forever means to him. But he is still alive and I assume there are at least some memories of what was good in life before forever was stolen away by disease.
Another close friend is losing her parents to the ravages of old age. Dementia and memory loss are stealing away what little independence they have left. She’s struggling with holding her family together as her parents drift away. And losing the “forever” every child sees in the love their parents have for them.
I still date, less and less now, but I meet beautiful, intelligent women all the time. And conversation and laughter flow easily. I like and respect women. It’s pretty rare that I fail to be engaging enough for a second or even a third date. I tend to turn down dates much after that. Because, every time I sit next to a woman on a date now, laughing and having fun, the negative thoughts creep into my consciousness. If I continue on this path, someone is going to be the one who is left behind.
The fact is, I’m scared to death. I don’t believe I could survive another heartbreak of the magnitude I’ve already suffered. So that rules out letting myself fall into the kind of love that would let that risk exist. And the other side of that same coin is that I can’t imagine causing that pain to someone I love. So, I never let it get that far. I sabotage every budding relationship to avoid pain. And yea, that causes more than enough pain in and of itself.
So, what does one do? I have more than enough examples of people in my life who have closed themselves off from love. Many for decades. I’d rather not emulate them. Most of them need anti-depressants just to get through the day. So I contemplate the situation. And I write about it. In the writing, I find new avenues of hope.
I went out on a spur of the moment date a week ago. With someone I’ve grown fairly close to in a completely different way. We met as friends, we went out as friends and the fact is, neither one of us is in any position to contemplate a romantic relationship at this point in time. That didn’t stop me from asking her out, twice before, but she politely declined. We became fast friends instead. It’s kinda like that opposite-sex best friend you had in high school. You’ll always have a crush on them but you know to actually do something about it would fuck everything up.
I realized soon after that “date” that I could add her to the roster of women, who are all friends that will never date me romantically (again?), but will actually “love me forever”. Or at least until one of us dies. And I will do the same. For each and every one of them. These women I love. But I haven’t built my entire life around them. I’m not sure I can give myself to another person the way I gave myself to my wife. But I’m not sure that’s a bad thing either. The only bad thing would be if I were unable to open myself to love at all.
I’m not looking for the love of my life anymore. But that doesn’t mean if she shows up at my door that I’m going to tell her I gave at the office. I don’t know quite what it might take to knock me off my feet but I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that she’s out there somewhere waiting. If the past is any indication of the future, she’ll come along when I least expect her. I hope I’m ready by then. Right now, I’ll tell her exactly what I told that friend a week ago: “I’m not very good boyfriend material.”
Thank you for reading.