Dear New Man,
If you want to be with me in this chapter of my life, it’s a package deal. Some women have children. A man needs to know that going in.
Well, know this about me. I have a boyfriend; he just happens to be dead.
If you tell me to put the past in the past, you communicate a lack understanding and compassion for the depth of my love, the richness of my relationship that was ripped away from me, or the ongoing agony of grief.
Maybe you’ve been dealt the death of loved ones, too. So had I before I lost my beloved. I’d experienced the deaths of my brother, mother, and brother-in-law. This is different.
Maybe you’ve been in love before. I, too have been blessed with that heart-expanding experience a handful of times, including two marriages.
However, the kind of relationship I craved to create out of each of those previous relationships never came to pass.
Until Kevin. As I neared 50, I found everything I’d been looking for.
Not that he was perfect. And I was the other part of the equation. So, you know, not perfect.
Yet, somehow we shaped a world in which the two of us danced free, passionate, happy, open and engaged.
That relationship continues. He’s the Fire inside me that never goes out.
Some people think it rude to talk about previous partners once you’re with a new one. I say, until someone can convince me of the benefit of holding back, I’ll continue speaking Kevin’s name.
If you listen, you’ll hear my soul speak, loud and proud and feminine.
If you want to fall for me, take all of me.
Grief isn’t my baggage; it’s my advantage.
See, I’ve inhabited that space where wondrous, life-enhancing love exists. So, I know I can go there again. I just can’t tell you when, how, or if it will be with you. There’s much I don’t know.
I see you standing before me, saying you want to walk with me. It may be a hard road for you, as it may never be just us two.
Kevin is my constant, still. He’s the music in songs, the flavor in foods, and my mind reels with memory like the ticker tape running across the bottom of the TV screen.
Here’s the breaking news: I have no desire to dismiss my past.
The reality that I’m with another man—any other man—feels foreign to me.
It’s not that I feel I’m cheating on my beloved. It’s that a part of my heart lives outside this world and a part of Kevin’s remains in me.
It’s—to quote Glennon Doyle Melton—a brutiful thing. You can wish the brutal away or deny its existence. You can even disappear for fear you can’t compete with a dead man.
Trust me, there’s no competition. And no, I didn’t put him on a pedestal in the aftermath. I rose into love like a bird swoops on the wind.
Better than fantasy. it was my reality.
Good. Pure. Right. Until his lights went out. Out of this world.
You tell me not to dim the lights on us because of my past. I refuse to pretend to feel any more or less than I do.
How dare you accuse me of wallowing? Oh, not that you did, but that’s how it feels when you seem to insist I’m letting my past get in your way.
I honor my grief and if you respect me and want to get me, you will too.
You’ll understand Kevin’s love for me is an essential ingredient that goes into making me the woman you want to make yours.
Here’s the cool thing about my boyfriend being dead: I can take on another man if I choose. I can take on you.
I can take your hand and your kiss. We can date and I can appreciate your presence, even while missing him every single day.
A while ago, I would’ve told you I miss him every moment. So, progress!
It’s like this. When I was in junior high, my friend’s dog bit me on my face. I was rushed to the hospital for stitches. It left a scar on my lip, one which people felt compelled to comment on for years.
A boss once assured me I could get my scar fixed by a superb surgeon. When he saw me wince, he tried to convince me it was hardly noticeable.
As if I didn’t see my scar every time I looked in the mirror. As if I couldn’t see people staring and suppressing the question: What happened?
Now, it’s been decades and people rarely ask this adult woman, What happened to your face?
This happened: I got hurt. It left a scar on my lip, just as Kevin’s death left a scar on my heart.
Do you know scar tissue is stronger than the original skin?
I think Kevin knew. Only one scar shows on my body, but Kevin loved them all. By doing this, he made way for me to love what I once considered my inadequacies. He insisted they were all a part of the ICE (his nickname for me) package—unique and beautiful.
His love opened the door for me to be more of who I am.
I’m the woman who you, new man, now claim to want. And yet, you want me to close that door?
Not happening. I’m still healing. The scar forming on my heart doesn’t need to be fixed. It needs to be seen.
If you really believe I’m the one for you, see my scars. See the pain, but look for the beauty.
This scar sews together the seam between where I got hurt and where I need to be loved.
My dead boyfriend isn’t an obstacle or a hurdle to leap. He’s not your competition. He doesn’t stand in the way of anything you and I might create.
My grief is a gate.
It opens to all of me—my wisdom, resilience and feminine essence. It lives in my heart. Do you have the courage to go there?
I promise only this. I offer you no less than my real self, the scar upon my broken heart and the sagacity born from my soul’s searching.
So new man, don’t be afraid of what happened to me yesterday. Lean in. Love my scars.