Last week I overcame a big life hurdle. It was one I had not been looking forward to for quite some time. This was because last week I “celebrated” my 29th birthday.
Once upon a time I looked forward to my birthday wholeheartedly. Not only did I look forward to the day, I completely embraced it. I’d remind everyone I knew for weeks in advance. I planned things. I selfishly welcomed a day dedicated to me living yet another year. However, when I lost my husband that all changed. My outlook on life took on a completely different role. Years of life suddenly became more fragile, more valuable. A day of birth no longer was about the people I loved honoring me, but about me honoring yet another year I had the opportunity to spend with the people I love. How tragic that it took a death for me to realize something so special.
While I am grateful for my new found outlooks on life, turning 29 was still a difficult concept for me to grasp. No, it was not for reasons of the average 29 year old. I was/am not worried or anxious about the last year of my twenties; or that I am now counting down days until I reach thirty. I am actually looking forward to putting my twenties behind me and starting a new decade of life. My difficulty lies with the fact that my sweet husband never had the chance to see the age of 29 for himself. Technically speaking I’ve been older than Brady since ten days after my 28th birthday, but there’s something about seeing the age change visually that makes it a harder pill to swallow.
In my typical fashion when hard times approach my goal is to run away or do something big. Usually it ends up being a combination of both. Celebrating my 29th year of life was no different. I made the semi sporadic decision to run away with my best friend to Tampa, Florida where he’ll soon be moving. While there I was able to begin working on a list to help push me through this next year; 30 things to do before turning 30 years old. Some of the items on the list are big, some are small, but they each have their place. They are there to help me create beautiful moments for myself. Moments that will hopefully replace the continual heartache of not having my husband by my side with peace and happiness.
I often wonder how different my life would be if he were still by my side. I wonder about the types of things I would have experienced with him. I think about the things I have experienced without him. The choices I would make if he were here versus the choices I make because he’s not. I could contemplate forever. It wouldn’t matter though. My life’s path was changed. I was given an unexpected and unwelcomed new chapter.
We all are given those at some point or another. They take different forms for each of us. They challenge our minds, our bodies, and our souls. They wear us down, they wear us down again, and then they wear us down some more. But somehow we survive. The sun rises and we wake up. We experience things. We have human interactions. We live.
It’s a strange, complex cycle to live these lives. That’s why it’s so important seek out the beautiful moments. Search for them. Create them. Love them. Being able to embrace the beautiful moments makes you that much stronger when it’s your turn to endure the ugly ones.
Dating is a curious and complicated ordeal. I’m fairly certain almost everyone would agree with that. It doesn’t get easier with age, it is not blissful with youth, and just because you’ve dated in the past does not necessarily make you more prepared for any future prospects down the road.
Now, take all of those difficulties that are associated with the dating game (yes, it’s a game whether we all like it or not) and add the complexities of being a widow. You know, those poor unfortunate souls who already found their soulmate -- their one true love they expected to spend the rest of their lives with. The ones who already felt the intensity of dedicating themselves to another human being. The ones who looked at love without fear and embraced it in every possible way.
How are those beautifully, tragic, fragile little souls supposed to play along in this vicious dating game?
Whether it be a handful of years to a decade or more, for us, the game ended some time ago. Not only do we no longer know how to keep up with it, we have no desire to do so in the first place. We have learned how delicate life is and how valuable time can be. We treasure the moments we get to spend with the people we want to spend them with.
Our heightened awareness of these moments makes them that much more precious. We soak up every ounce of joy in hopes that it will get us through the days to follow. There is no room in our lives to sit staring at blank phones, filled with curiosities of why he has not sent us a message. There is no time to decode the messages that are actually sent. Truly, there is no time for any of the dating hassles or confusions.
So how do these women do it? All women really, but specifically widows. How does any widow manage to find love again?
Clearly, it’s possible. For years, widows have managed to shatter the term “soulmate” in its traditional form, and against all odds were able to once again find the magic that is love with another man. And that, to me, is absolutely incredible for a multitude of reasons. However as a person who has not only watched the struggles widows are forced to bear in the world of dating, but also experienced it first hand, I have come up with a set of guidelines for any man looking to pursue one of these rare and beautiful souls.
As previously published by Thought Catalog, please click the link to read "10 Things To Know Before Dating A Widow".