“I’m about to have a really honest conversation with you. A difficult one. One I just realized I needed to have while at the doctor’s office. One that (surprisingly) punched me right in the gut.
I remember the first time I went to the doctors after my husband, Chad, died. It was my girly doctor. They had no idea that running down the list of ‘catch up’ questions would leave me sitting teary-eyed in the corner while I waited to be called back for my appointment.
‘Is this still your address?’
‘Is this still your phone number?’
‘Still have this insurance?’
‘Chad is still your emergency contact?’
I remember the question, but everything after it is fuzzy. It’s like everything stops for a minute while you’re trying to make your widow brain understand exactly what they’re saying. And then you have to deliver the news to them in the same way you might’ve told his best friend: ‘No, I’m sorry, he has passed away.’
And then they get that face. You know. That face. The one where they don’t know what to say. The one where they don’t know what to do. The one where they want to crawl under the desk and pretend you weren’t standing there. And it’s not that they did anything wrong. They’ve asked that question a thousand times to a thousand people and they were just the unlucky one in that moment who had to check in the widow.
Fast forward six years. It’s no secret I’ve met somebody. It’s no secret we’re very serious. We’re a thing. A couple. A pair. And no, I don’t know if we’re going to ever get married. I don’t know if that’s our plan. Regardless of how much I love him, I’m still so torn about not being Chad’s wife anymore. God, I hate saying that. I don’t even know if the thought is normal. Because he’s gone, and it’s not lost on me how I’ve been absolutely blessed with the magic in loving the man who came after.
Chad walked the first part of my life with me and I fully expect Jon will walk with me during the second. But I’m not sure I will ever be his wife, or if he will ever be my husband. But according to my doctor’s office, he’s my ‘life partner.’ And when I saw that, I actually cried. Six-stupid-years-later.
Because I love him. I really love him. But, he wasn’t supposed to be my life partner. I suppose you could argue he was and everything happens for a reason, but I hate that phrase. I hate it. Because I’ll never be able to reason why Chad is gone. It will never make sense, and it will never be okay. And I don’t know why, all this time later, it still hits me in the same way as it did the first time, but it did.
And I can’t explain to you why it feels so weird. Because Jon is wonderful and sweet and kind to me. And he’s funny and attentive and loving and caring and amazing to my kid and my dogs. And he takes care of me and pets my hair and hugs me every day when I leave for work. The fact he is hot doesn’t suck, but above all of it, he’s alive. And what if Chad was, too? And that’s where this conversation gets so hard to have. The what if’s. It literally makes me shudder to think how I would even ever make that choice.
I don’t feel like I’m cheating on him. It’s not that. It’s that I question how strongly I feel for both of them that it makes me feel like I’m a horrible human being. And, I hope as I sort out my feelings in indistinct public ramblings, you reserve your judgement. I don’t share this incredibly vulnerable piece of me to be made fun of. I do it because I don’t want other widows and widowers to feel like there is something wrong with them if they feel the same way.
Even somebody like me, who is in tune with their grief – some things are just so hard to understand. But I’m trying to sort it out like so many widows and widowers are. I’m trying. And yet, it’s still so confusing. Because I wasn’t supposed to be somebody else’s wife. I wasn’t supposed to be somebody else’s life partner.
So, I am learning how to make room in my heart, just like I did for every one of my kids. Do you remember in your second or third pregnancy thinking, ‘I just don’t know how I am going to love the next one like I love this one,’ and then you do? It just happens? Suddenly, just when you thought you couldn’t possibly find more love – you do? You never give up the love you have for your first child. You don’t share it. You find more. Somewhere tucked inside of you is more just waiting to come out. And that’s how I feel with my husband, and my life partner. I didn’t give up any love. I found more.
I’m trying to trust the process. I’m trying to figure it out. I’m trying to be raw and vulnerable and honest so I can figure it out and so can you. The only thing I know for sure is I know how lucky I am to be loved by two men who in my opinion have embodied what a loving, genuine, respectful man is.
And for the record, his name is Jon. I just think if the universe is going to assign me a new life partner, they should at least spell his name right.
And to you Jon: thank you. Thank you for loving me enough to support me in continuing to share my story, even when it’s weird. And for never feeling threatened. And for always hugging me, even when sometimes I’m unhuggable.
But most of all, thank you for finding me, right when I needed you. I do love you, life partner, so very very much.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Diana Register of Meridian, Idaho. Her books “Grief Life” and “Grief & Glitter” are available in print and on kindle. You can find more of her books here, and her podcast here. Connect with Diana on her author Facebook page, and Instagram.
Read more from Diana here:
‘My name is Jeff. Tell me exactly what happened.’ His voice changed, his tone dripping in comfort. He guided me through the biggest crisis I’ve ever experienced.’: Widow thanks ‘hero’ dispatcher, ‘Kindness is free’
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