When I met Nick, I was not looking for anyone. I didn't think I was ready, I didn't want to find someone, but I was lonely. 15 months without someone was just giving me a physical loneliness that I hadn't experienced. I was lucky (read: SO VERY LUCKY) that the person I met in this time was not a crazy psycho killer, stalker, or just a run-of-the-mill craziness, but instead was the (mostly) sane Nick. I was comfortable in the setting I met Nick. I was comfortable talking about Mike to Nick and after seeing his reaction, I was comfortable knowing that Nick knew Mike and experienced him as a person without knowing me. I believe I was open to the possibility of finding someone to be close to. That was really it, someone to be close to. Someone who somehow could understand even a minute amount of what I had felt and sympathized with those feelings. Someone to talk to and tell everyday things to. Someone to lend a little support.
Things progressed and I just flat out had a great time being around him. We had fun together, and I told very few people about him so that all I had to think about were the fun times we had. I knew I could have some fun. I didn't want anyone's opinion or thoughts and I didn't want to dive into more myself. Then we stumbled through telling my friends, his friends, some of "our" friends and my family. It really helped me to be open with Nick about what I was feeling. I have a natural instinct to bottle it in when I'm upset and hope that miraculously the solution will just unfold and things will be better. I fought this and told him when people reacted and made me mad, or sad. I explained to him the sticky stuff about always loving Mike, about feeling like I'm losing Mike, about worry that I affect people's opinion of him.
So back to my friend, she responded by saying that it may be the first time I let myself realize that truly one isn't in front of the other. That my love for Mike and my love for Nick are completely different, and that's OK. I've always had a difficult time remembering that as my relationship with Nick grows, that takes nothing away from my love for Mike. She reminded me of that. I was not given the choice to continue life with Mike or move in a different direction. I did not wake up one day and realize my love for Mike was gone. He was taken. And I woke up and realized that for me, I need to live a full life with another person. I am strong enough to live alone, and I am confident I could live a life full of purpose that way. I don't want to. I hate being alone in the way that losing Mike made me alone. Mike knew I hated being alone that way. The relationship that Mike and I had led to a connection between us and although we never discussed what to do if something were to happen, I know with everything in me he wouldn't want me to be alone. That may sound very cliche especially to people who have been there and heard others say things like this to you, but if I go past the cliche words and rely on the feelings I know behind them, I can feel the truth. I know he wants me to be happy, just as he always has, and be filled with as much as I possibly can.
We also discussed that the hope between all of us "widows" is that we support the decisions each of us makes for ourselves. We each keep the relationship alive in our memories, what it gave us, and what we took and continue to take from it, and support each other. I've been so worried sometimes about judgement-- but people judge everyday! The ones that matter to me are people who have done this, who have lived this journey in part, or who have lived with me in the past, who are in my life now. All of those people are so supportive of me and of where I am that I see there is no reason to worry. I see others choices as valid choices for them, all of them, and they see mine the same. That support (from widow friends, high school friends, college friends, military friends, etc.) is what makes it worth anything at the end of the day.