I have pushed through the first anniversary of Jon’s death. As I have reflected on this year, many thoughts and feelings have come to the surface. In fact, the next several blogs I write will be coming from the emotional storm I’ve just walked through this past month. Amongst the memories, worries and emotions that I have sorted through is one particularly terrifying thought: It is very likely I will be widowed again someday.
I’m young. I will love again, get married and have a wonderful life with someone new. I will probably be with this new man longer than I was with Jon. I’ve always tended to be attracted to older guys and statistically women live longer than men. The most probable and heart wrenching scenario is that I will once again stand up and speak at the funeral of the man I love and I will mourn him just as fiercely as I have Jon. Now, I’m praying this happens when I’m 85, but I can’t imagine age makes that much of a difference to emotions.
When you’re young and in love, you know theoretically that, outside of an accident involving both people, eventually one person in the couple will die before the other. But for me it is no longer just an idea. It’s not just a logical understanding of life and death, I know intimately the pain I will likely face when I choose to love again.
I could shut down my heart, surround it with a protective shell and choose not to walk that path again. In doing so I would save myself from the pain that made me want to scream in the night, cry so hard I nearly threw up and come close to passing out from hyperventilating. I could spare myself the pain. But to do that would mean I would miss out on something greater: love.
Stronger than my fear of losing someone, is my desire to spend my life loving someone.
The cost of love isn’t just the pain that comes when death parts us. Becoming “one flesh” is a process in itself. The work begins after the sounds of wedding bells fade. There will be conflict. There will be tears. I will fail him and he will fail me. That’s just part of being and loving an imperfect person. But though there is struggle and hard times in any relationship, there is also so much beauty.
I miss loving. I feel like I’ve have so much love in me and nowhere to put it. I can’t think of a better way to spend my time on Earth than learning how to delight someone’s heart. I loved knowing exactly how to bring Jon joy, when he needed touch and when he needed space, what to say when his heart was hurting and how to help him reach for his dreams. Did I always succeed? No. This past year has made me acutely aware of all of the ways that I could have been more supportive, more patient and more understanding. But I also know that I did my best and I know he knew that I loved him.
Being loved by Jon was wonderful. I still have voice mails on my phone of him singing to me or going on about how he loves me. Our final day together he told me all the reasons that he thought I was beautiful and insisted that we needed to hold hands more.
God I miss being loved. I miss talking about our favorite part of the day before going to sleep. I miss being able to reach out to him when I wake from a nightmare. I miss being known. I miss being important. I never realized how great it was to be someone’s priority until suddenly I found that I am no one’s priority. In my lonelier moments I wonder if I will ever find someone who will see me the way Jon saw me, who will desire me, not just physically, but mentally, emotionally, even spiritually. As easy as it would be to give way to fear, I have to believe that I will find that person.
I know the price of love. I know the struggle, I know the work, I know how it ends. But I want it nonetheless and I’m willing to pay the price again. The love is worth the pain.
Song of Songs 8:6-7
Place me like a seal over your heart,
like a seal on your arm.
For love is as strong as death,
its passion as enduring as the grave.
Love flashes like fire,
the brightest kind of flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
nor can rivers drown it.
If a man tried to buy love
with all his wealth,
his offer would be utterly scorned.