Dating ready to move on
The guilt wasn’t because I wasn’t ready, it was because by not dating, I hadn’t yet dealt with how it would make me feel.Whether I’d waited 2 years or 20, eventually I’d have felt guilty and have needed to process it.
I know Leslie’s life’s purpose wasn’t to leave me a better man.I didn’t want anyone to think that my dating reflected negatively on my love for my wife, or that I was “over it.”But ultimately the decision came down to me.Whether others judged it appropriate or not, I felt I was ready to date.Though wedding pictures might get stored away, the family pictures are reminders of their mother and her love for them and need to stay up.Just as I don’t shy away from talking to the kids about their mother, I also don’t apologize for discussing Leslie with dates (I mean, not on the first date, mind you). Still, I probably should clean and organize that nightstand one of these days. Instead, it’s actively remembering her and deciding how best to move forward while still respecting that shared past.She was and is an important part of my life and the lives of my children. There are other things to think about — other milestones to address: Meeting the kids, meeting the parents, all of those potential wonderful terrifying moments of new relationships. This reboot of my “dating days” comes easier with the knowledge that Leslie herself wanted me to find someone after she was gone, and had told me so before the end.
Those words brought me pain then, instead of the comfort I find in them now.
Over time, the waves would be smaller and further apart, then a new droplet would fall and start the process all over again — a draining faucet trickling empty. About a year after her death, I felt ready to start looking for another partner.
When you lose someone, there’s a feeling of being under a microscope, your every move examined by friends, family, coworkers, and connections on social media. Like grief, the timeframe for each individual’s readiness is variable. Two things determined my own readiness to date: I’d accepted the loss and was interested in sharing more than just a bed with a woman.
So I’ll allow myself to delight in the discovery of a great new person and try as hard as I can to keep the regrets and past mistakes I can’t control from spoiling that.
And if after all of that my dating now is judged “inappropriate,” well, I’ll just have to politely disagree.
The waves of emotion that radiated out were more manageable.