My husband was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. The trajectory for that kind of cancer is four weeks to six months. So we knew one day soon (we weren’t sure when) out time together was going to come to an end.
He died in my arms at home on four breaths. I said to him, “In a body, you need breath and love when you leave a body all you need is love.” On four breaths he left and I was a widow. We were together for twenty-five years. We missed our twentieth wedding anniversary by three weeks.
He was an artist. He left me a legacy of 1000 paintings. Besides the apartment, there was a studio that held 30-years of books and paintings…I cried every time I walked in there.
There was the loss of him, but there was also the loss of who I was with him because we were together 25 years. SO I was and who was…we were completely wound around each other.
You don’t even realize what you gave up until later and then it’s hard to take it back.
One of the things that began to happen after he died was I had to figure out what I liked myself separate from him and what I had given up that I wanted to take back.
There was a lot of discovering how much he was in my life. How many holes he filled: friendship, having my back, touch. For close to a year I would wake up and I could feel his warmth at my back and then I would wake up and remember he was gone with exactly that rawness of when he died in my arms.
I started a pretty public journal as Bad Widow because I realized no one had any idea how to treat me and how to support me.
This pain, this horrible pain I was in had to serve some purpose other than being devastating.
I was really missing going out with men but I was terrified of intimacy. The last person I really loved died in my arms. That brings with it a terror of going into that again.
I created a meditation practice. In those 11 months, there were times when we were so scared. In all honesty, you can’t prepare for it. It’s impossible. There were times when I was angry. I’m looking at this wasteland of a future that I couldn’t imagine.
I built a meditation for us. I would talk to him about filling up with love. We had built this practice over time when we were scared of filling up with love.
I couldn’t find what I needed so I built it.
What I was trying actually worked for other people, which was funny because I felt totally broken myself.
I had one epic love affair in my life and I was entitled to two.
My capacity for people was very limited, my energy was limited, my memory was still spotty. I didn’t trust myself.
I decided to go online onto Bumble. I had not dated since I met my husband in 1992. I had this idea that I’m going to date lightly for years because I can’t be touched. I really was still unclear what I wanted in a man. I ended up writing my profile and putting up my pictures based only on myself.
I wanted to attract to my people who liked what I liked because then we would have fun. Even if there wasn’t chemistry it would be enjoyable, not horrible.
I was a hot mess. I would cry at random times. But he just kept rising to the surface. He just hung in there with me.
It had been 6-months and we hadn’t had sex. We needed to know if that worked. I had finally gotten to the point where he could kiss me.
When I got those feelings like this is not right, I had to ask myself, is it me, is it him, or is it us? I had to be completely clear if I backed off why. If it was me then it was up to me to sort that out.
I knew I had to get myself through this if I wanted to be with this man. And so I pressed against my own boundaries.
He could see how brave I was being. He could see I was pushing past discomfort into my own boundaries because this was really important to both of us. It worked! It was absolutely wonderful.
I love him. I have my second love affair.
Trust yourself but also observe yourself.
When you’ve been with someone for 25 years it’s really easy to push away something that doesn’t feel right. Know that it won’t for a while. Take baby steps.
In order to get to the other side, you have to press past your own comfort zone about intimacy. It’s not automatic.