Life isn’t a movie

Perhaps I am selfish. But were I the one to die, instead of my husband, I would never have told him in my dying breath, “I want you to find someone else. Don’t grieve me too long.”

I am sorry, but I’m just not that magnanimous. I loved Mike. I would never have wanted to contemplate him with anyone else but me. Perhaps it’s the Ugly Green Monster of Jealousy, but that’s just how I feel. And I stand behind it. I don’t care if I was dying and knew that he would continue to live his life. I would feel bad for his grief. I would hurt with his grief. But I’d want him to feel his grief, or else my life meant nothing to him. I would not want him to drown his sorrows in trying to find a replacement Mars Girl. God knows I’ve done that too many times. If you date too soon after a loss such as what I’ve experienced, that’s what you end up doing. I started dating way too soon after Mike died–about seven months after his death. If I had to do it all over again, I would have waited a year. And then, I’d still mess up as I’ve done repeatedly in my ensuing relationships. But at least I’d have better armor to deal with the dating process.

If I had died instead of Mike, I would have wanted him to wait a few years before he found someone else. I would want him to wait to remarry at least as long as I have, but maybe that’s asking too much out of a guy. Guys just don’t seem to feel things as deeply as women and perhaps I’m a fool for feeling as I do. Guys seem to want to fix something and in this case, fixing it would mean finding something to fill the hole left by the loss. I think they are ready to date again quicker than women.

I just feel that if he was too quick to replace me, then I meant nothing to him. I feel that not being married again, after eight years, is proof of my love for Mike. He really wasn’t easy to replace. Finding someone that makes me feel even remotely the way I did when I was with him is no easy chore. And I’m not talking about the high, fuzzy feeling one has at the beginning of any relationship–I’ve had those many times since he died. I’m talking about the closeness, the understanding we had. The relationship. He was the ying to my yang. At the risk of sounding like a bad line from a movie, we truly did complete each other. Where I was weak, he was strong; where I was strong, he was weak. We were the spackle that covered each other’s character flaws. We so quickly became apart of each other that the loss was like losing my own arm. Half my body. Part of my soul. I suffer its loss like a phantom limb. There’s no one on this planet that I share that kind of closeness with. I even seek the mental part with friends. It’s not there because it can’t be. I was a better person with Mike.

Maybe Mike is up in heaven, laughing at me for being such an emotional wuss. Maybe he’s screaming, “JESUS, Fritzy, stop dwelling on me!” My heart breaks think about that. In two. I want him to be saying, “Fritzy, sweetie, I miss you too. I don’t want you to be with anyone else.”

Even though it’s okay for me now to be with someone else. I would still want him to be jealous if he saw me with someone else. I can’t imagine him looking down on me getting married again to another man and smiling. I will never invoke the spirit of my dead husband in my new husband’s ceremony. There’s no way that Mike could bear to watch without feeling a twinge of regret, no matter how “heavenly” his spirit has become. A human is still a human, dead or alive. I can’t imagine it any other way.

I sometimes think I’m too loyal. I fall too hard. I feel too much. I expect way more out of people than I can ever expect to get. My standards are too high, my expectations too grand. In a way, that’s why I ended up with Mike in the first place. Our love was grand. Our romance was a tornado that swept across my world and caught me up in it. It was beyond the kind of thing that happens normally. All my relationships since have snuck on me slow. Slow doesn’t impress. So it never feels right. Colossal is what I expect, that eureka moment that smacks you in the middle of a lazy dream. My biggest moves in life happen at eureka moments. I’m an all or nothing kind of person; I don’t know how to handle the shades of gray or in-betweens, even though I’m fully aware they exist. I’m in love or I’m not. He’s everything or he’s nothing.

He literally DID fit everything. I had a punch list of things I was looking for in a man and he fit 95% of them. Most guys I meet now are somewhere in the 50% range. They all treat me well. But they aren’t enough. I wonder, too, if Mike would have felt the same way. Probably not. He’s a guy. All guys care about is a nice body and someone who doesn’t give them a lot of traditional girly bullshit. Maybe that’s the only criteria Mike used with me. I didn’t give him a lot of bullshit. I had a decent body. We shared similar interests. Maybe that was just a bonus to him.

I know I’m not giving him a lot of credit. I’m just flash reacting to the typical comment I get from people, the whole “Mike would want you to be happy” comment that seems so dismissive to me. It actually translates to, “Oh, would you get over it already?”

And who says I’m not happy the way I am? Happiness is subjective. I could have crawled into a corner and wallowed, but I didn’t. I lived with the grief and, as always, pushed on with life because I’m a survivor. I didn’t let his death stop me from doing the things I wanted to do. I moved to Colorado when the whim hit me; I got homesick and came back to Ohio. I went to Germany and Amsterdam, which Mike and I had always planned to do, and then I didn’t stop there, taking a trip to Italy as well. I’ve become obsessed with cycling, an activity that I seeded within myself while Mike was still alive but fully blossomed in his absence. I’ve done a few high points without him, though I intend to do more. I’ve learned how to ride a motorcycle. I continue to ski. I’ve bought and sold two houses. I clearly have not stopped living.

So happy, yes, I am. For the most part. I’ve then fulfilled that requirement spouted so often from others’ mouths. I did not let Mike’s death destroy me. Yes, it changed the way I look at the world (and sometimes maybe I live in terror of death). But taken life away from me, it has not. I remain alive. I do not need to have someone else to feel fulfilled. It would be nice, but if it never happens that I am blessed with someone with whom I want to spend the rest of my life, then so be it. That’s the way the dominoes fall.

I’m not going to go out looking for love. I’m not the match.com kind of girl. I believe the best possibility of love finds you in most surprising places when you least expect it. There’s a desperation in purposefully looking for love. I didn’t look for Mike–we found each other at a party called Woodchuck when both of us came with friends to relax. I was looking for a good time, a few drinks, some fun–not love. The whole match.com thing is so contrived. I don’t like interviewing for a potential date. I like being myself. I like seeing others be themselves. If something clicks, it clicks. You can’t dial up and order love off a menu. It’s not as simple as the same interests or similar lifestyle choices. Love is a strange chemistry that makes no sense to even the people involved.

So if I never happen to run into love again, then so be it. Maybe it’s not my destiny in this life to have the relationship thing. Maybe I’m supposed to walk alone, as I always have from birth through childhood. You know what? I can live with that. Because I don’t need anyone else to be happy. I can still do what I want alone. Maybe more so because I don’t have to check in with anyone.

I don’t believe in Hollywood goodbyes. People at bedsides saying, “Please grieve me quickly and then find someone else to love.” Or whatever awkward thing a person would say in such a moment. I would totally puke if a man ever said that to me. Like he’s giving me permission to find someone else. Like I need his permission.

Does anyone really say that? If they do, they don’t really know what they are saying. They’re just trying to say what they think they should say in such a situation. I can’t imagine that even someone dying would want to talk to their spouse about finding someone else to love. Their love hasn’t even really ended. We all need room to grieve.

Sometimes I wonder if my grief has called other married friends to say to each other, “Honey, please don’t behave as Mars Girl has if I die. Please move on quicker and don’t grieve so much.”

I hope not. I hope that my grieving has shown others how deeply a person can love another person and perhaps made them appreciate a little more the people they do have in their lives right now. Lest we forget that the world we know can dissolve beneath or feet, and rather quickly.

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2 thoughts on “Life isn’t a movie

  1. Actually, sometimes things do happen that way.

    Five days before my wife died, things had gotten very bad. It was the first time we knew there was a possibility that she might not make it. As we arrived home, she initiated a conversation during which time she asked me to promise to marry again when the time came. The best I could do was to promise to try since I can't guarantee that those mutual feelings will ever exist with another person again. I think there was a lot of guilt on her part at the prospect of leaving us, but I also think she said it out of love. No one wants to imagine leaving their husband or wife when they are young, only to have them age and die alone. And in a way, too, I think she knew I would have an easier time accepting it if I knew I had her "blessing". That is how it happened for us, and I do think it will feel less like a betrayal to her if/when I do date again knowing that she ultimately just wanted me to be happy.

    That being said, I am currently as content as I can be in my singleness. I think that if I continue to be happy this way, then I'd have her "blessing" in that as well, even though we never actually talked about that possibility.

    Computer dating services are not for me either, although I have seen them work for other people I know. I'm with you in that I need to have that actual, in-person connection with someone to jump start my "compatibility rating". It worked pretty well that way the first time around.

    One last thing… please remember that there are plenty of nice guys out here who are looking for more than a nice body and a quick solution to our loneliness (and conversely, there are plenty of girls who are looking for precisely those things).

    Like people's dating expectations, grief is a process that varies widely for each of us who are entrenched in its throes.

  2. Split-Second, I apologize for my blanket statements against men… I think I have some residual anger issues because I remember men who joined widow groups I attended just to pick up a date… they were widowers, but they came not to talk about their grief, but find other women like them to date. Which, at the time, was not at all where I was at, so it really angered me. Though now, admittedly, I think it would be kind of cool if I met a widower and hit it off… Because I think we would understand each other in a way that other men don't understand me at all… But I dont purposely go out and seek widowers. There might be a fine enough empathetic man out there who isnt a widow…

    Anyway, I still am struck by people making those kind of statements… I just would never do it. I'd tell my husband that I'd want him to be happy… But having gone through grief now, I'd know that for awhile, he'd be in bad shape. I know he'd probably navigate through it, as I have. But I dont think I would suggest to him that he get married again. I think that's a given. And, also, happiness in life is not necessarily found in finding another spouse and getting married. Maybe some people feel fulfilled in other ways.

    True, I'd probably like to get married again. If I found the right person. But if I never find the right person, I'm fine with not ever marrying again. I wont let it stop me from living a full life.

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