To the man I will share the second part of my life with,
I used to write letters to “my future husband” when I was a teenager. Back then I thought I would have one husband till death do us part. I had no idea death would part me and the man I would marry so soon.
Now I find myself writing once more: a letter to the man I will one day marry. I’d like to start off by saying I admire your courage. I am not for the faint of heart. While I am simple, I am not cheap. I do not care about diamond rings, fancy cars or high-end jobs, but loving me will require nothing less than all of you.
I want your eyes. I will not share your gaze with another. Not the waitress walking by or the women on the internet. I am not the jealous kind but I refuse to compete. I want your hands. There will be times when life will try and pull us apart and I need you to be able to hold onto us. But most of all, I want your heart. I want your greatest joys and deepest fears, your wildest dreams and guarded secrets. I don’t want you to hold anything back from me.
In return for all of you, you will receive all of me. I will show you the meaning of devotion. I will dedicate myself to learning how to love you the way you need to be loved. It will be my pleasure to take the time to discover the things that bring you pleasure. I will love you well because I know with intensity how precious your life is to me and how quickly you could be taken away.
There are some other things I want you to know before we begin. When you decide to ask me out for the first time I want you to be straight with me. Tell me exactly how you feel and what you want. I don’t have the time or energy for the games and vagueness that is the current standard of our culture. I know it takes courage to open yourself up like that but that’s exactly what I want to see: courage. You’re going to need it to embark on a life with me.
But even before you even ask me out I need you to understand that our relationship is going to be scrutinized from the beginning. I am a widow and no matter how long I wait, there are going to be people who feel like it’s too soon. A normal single person only has to worry about the opinions of a handful of people. There were nearly 300 people at my husband’s funeral. He was so well-loved. The majority of those people are going to be protective of his memory and therefore will judge you against him. People will talk about you, and analyze your life, prospects, and Facebook profile and unless you happen to be Tim Tebow, they’ll likely find you wanting. Part of this is my fault for being fairly public with my grieving process. But from what I have heard from others in my situation, unfortunately, this is pretty standard for young widows. It’s not fair to you or to me but we will have to face it nonetheless, which is why I need your courage so much.
(If anyone reading this actually knows Tim Tebow feel free to give him my number. My schedule is pretty open these days. I’m only 60% joking here.)
Along with courage, I need you to be confident in yourself. I need you to understand that I will always love my first husband, but that love does not lessen my ability to love you. There are going to be days when I miss him, I might even need you to hold me while I cry over his loss. But that doesn’t mean you are not enough or that I don’t want you. You cannot be jealous of his memory for I must keep it alive, not just for myself but for my children. I need to do everything in my power to help them know who their father was. I need you to be ok with that. I need you not to be threatened by him. He may have been my first love but you will be my last.
Speaking of my children, choosing me means choosing them. I don’t want you to think of them as your stepchildren. If you want to take on the role of my husband you need to be equally as invested in taking on the role of their father. They don’t have a daddy to visit on weekends. You will be the only daddy that they will ever know. You need to cheer for them in the audience, teach Nathan how to shave, and take Jocelyn to Daddy-Daughter dances. They are to be yours just as much as any children I may carry for you.
One final thing you must know. My faith is the most important part of me. It’s not just a segment of my life, it is woven into the fabric of my being. C. S. Lewis explained it best when he said, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” My faith is the filter through which I see life. It’s how I make all of my decisions. It’s how I have survived this season without going completely insane. It’s how I want my children to be raised. I need you to be able to share that with me. You don’t have to be in the exact same place as I am in your faith journey, but I need you to at least be on the road.
(By the way, if you’re looking for a “women shall remain silent, I own you, go minister in the nursery and run bake sales” kind of wife I am most definitely not your girl. I’m more of a Deborah/ Jael kind of woman.)
These obstacles will intimidate most men, but somehow you will have managed to fight through with me and I love you already for it. I can’t tell you how much that means to me that, for some reason, you see me as worth the effort when there are so many other girls that would be so much easier to reach.
I find it confusing how I can ache for the husband I lost and at the same time long for the day that I discover who you are. It’s going to be a hard transition to loving someone new. Thank you for understanding the journey that I am on and I look forward to the adventures we will have together.
Until our life together begins,
Song of Songs 3:4
When I found the one my heart loves.
I held him and would not let him go
If my writing has moved you to want to support me in my journey, you find out how here
I love this. And I laughed out loud at the Tim Tebow joke.
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Thanks! I’m not even a huge Tebow fan (my husband was) but he is the golden child of the Christian bubble so I figured he’d probably be the only one who would pass everyone’s test lol
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I always had a soft spot for him. He got so much grief for being a believer. You got to admire him for that.
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I dont dislike him.. I think he’s done so well for the amount of pressure that has been placed on him. But I’m not a football fan in general so I didn’t swept up in the mania lol
This is so close to my heart. My Roger passed February 23,2015. We have 3 kids and it’s life shattering. I buried him on our wedding anniversary, and it was very hard. I ran into a man I went to high school with while out with friends. I feel the connection and your letter is spot on. He loves me and accepts my children. He is so kind, he goes to the cemetery with me. He does hold me when I cry for my husband.
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This is amazing. It definitely is a God thing. I lost my hubby 12/22/15 and it still seems like a dream. People say time helps but to me it just reinforces it is a reality. 3 teens and it is so much harder than I ever imagined.
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Thank you for sharing. That gives me hope that I’ll find someone like that too
I was widowed at 23 with no children. Yup, grieved that too, even though I cannot fathom having to face my children’s pain as well one day.
I want to comment to give you hope. I identified with pretty much every word, except Tim Tebow because thankfully God brought my “next husband” to me early on. 😉 I was scrutinized, as was he. We were both broken people who God brought together for healing and a new hope in this life. He had a child, and now she’s mine. What a gift she is to me. It’s a mountain to climb, and it’s no easy feat, but it’s worth it in ever sense. I feel like most days we are still figuring out exactly how to wade these waters of grief and healing, as each year new fascets of pain present themselves. But we do not walk it alone. God places love and longing for companionship for a reason, and I know He is writing a beautiful story for you as well. Prayers and hugs as you walk this journey!
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Thank you so much for sharing. Having two children has made this process harder in a lot of ways, but I can’t imagine not having them to hold onto.
Erica, it warms my heart that you are in a place to even entertain the idea of spending the rest of your life with someone else. You seem to understand that sharing your life with someone new never detracts from what you had, it never disrespects the past. The best way to go on is to simply understand that the new relationship is beautiful in its own right.
I was widowed September 17, 2015. Met a wonderful man through an online group for widows and were married Sept 22, 2016. Yes, just a year after my husband passed. Yes we got all of those judgements from the peanut gallery but honestly, their opinions carried no weight, nor should they.
I wish you luck in the future. The right man will enter your life exactly when he is supposed to. All in Gods perfect timing.
Amen to that!
Wished more people could be that open. I read thousands of books written by acclaimed poets and writers, yet this small piece, someone explaining who she is, what she is wanting for in her life is a jewel and probably the best.
Your are an amazing writer and I admire your strength and courage. I love how you speak of your faith and the transparency by which you bear your soul. Don’t stop writing. It is your gift and you’re using it so well. Praying for continued healing until God brings another love into your life.
As a widower of 3 years who is currently contemplating a return to dating (at the age of 46 – the horror!), I found your blog very touching Erica, and also that it provided much food for thought.
About 18 months ago I came to the realisation that I was slowly, sadly, no longer in love with my wife. I still loved her, as I do today, and still cherished the time we had, and the joy we found through each other and through our two children.
However, I gradually came to understand that I was no longer *in* love with her. Why? Because, for me, being *in* love is something that develops and grows day on day, getting stronger and deeper as the years pass and as your commitment to each other becomes more complex and rewarding. Without Nikki being there, supporting, laughing, holding, occasionally berating, then that relationship cannot carry on going from strength to strength and will wither.
Assimilating this wasn’t easy, it felt like a betrayal. But as the months passed I was able to recognise that it was a natural part of the grieving process, and that it didn’t mean I had loved her any less. Instead I had recognised that I had to let that part of our life together go.
Now I’m at the stage where I am contemplating another relationship. Like you I have 2 young children, just turned 6 and about to be 9. Any person that I let into my life has to meet my very high standards with regard to being suitable for my children. They will also have to *endure* the fact that I have maintained a close relationship with my wife’s family – our boys lost their Mother, not their Grandparents, Aunt, Uncle and cousins. I have two great wee boys who have had the support from both families in dealing with their loss and I’m not going to jeopardise that for anyone.
In a way I know that if I do meet a future mate then they will be a very special person because they will be willing to embrace all that goes with a bereaved family.
I apologise for the lengthy post, but wanted to explain why I wanted to thank you for writing with such empathy and compassion on what can be a difficult topic. I don’t share your faith in a God, but I feel we are on the same hymn sheet when it comes to what we might look for in, and expect from, any future partner, and I hope that you find happiness and contentment again.
just came across your writing this morning as I take some time to pause and reflect. This is ‘fearless’ writing. Although I am sure you fought some emotions posting this. Go you! Sounds like you are doing great (even if you may not feel like it). I am sure you are taking it one day, or moment, at a time. Look forward to reading more and learning with you.
Am a young widow
So I understand
Had tears in my eyes as I read it