“And when you have reached the mountaintop, then you shall begin to climb.” ~ Kahlil Gibran
When my sister Jayne started dating after her husband of 33 years died, a friend told her, “You’re not ready.”
She said, “I’m sick of people telling me what I’m ready for or not ready for.”
As if anyone else knows, right? After a break-up, divorce or death, deciding to move forward is an individual decision.
Or sometimes, it just happens. I went out with my sister and a friend one night and suddenly months later, I’m trying to decide if this guy is right (for me).
I never made a conscious decision to start dating after my beloved’s death.
I did determine to stop saying, “Every other man is going to be such a f*cking disappointment!” I wish I could stop feeling that way.
I wish I could be ready to allow a man to replace the irreplaceable. Of course, that will never happen. How nice it would be to invite a man into the space that once held me like a hammock swinging at the beach.
It’s still a stretch I’m not sure I’m ready for. It’s been a year and a half since my Fire (as I called him) went out of this world.
He called me Ice for 25 years before he melted me with intimacy and we became us. After his departure from earth, part of me froze again. Then, shattered. You know what it’s like when you drop a bag of ice on the cement? In grief, I’m that ice, and forever his.
He (still) wants for my happiness in the way that I ache for his presence.
Maybe I’m not ready for another man. However, if I wait until I’m totally solid again, I could turn into one of those women who swear off love. Wouldn’t that be a shame?
My sister Jayne has taught me that once you’ve had a happy, successful relationship, it means you know how, you’re capable, and when you’re ready and open, you can create it again.
From where she stands now, it may appear easy to the outside world. Nope.
I remember her first date with another man and how she crumbled the second she got away from him, like I did after my first date with someone other than my beloved.
Those dates weren’t with less-than-fine men. They just weren’t ours.
Jayne had great love with her husband, Tom Gerlach for triple decades. They never stopped holding hands, laughing, and navigating life in unison—until his life was over.
She went on, the way one braves Mt. Everest. Moving forward tested her.
Now, five years later, my sister’s in love with a man who fulfills and ignites her in fresh ways. She’s different now.
Not just different from the 18-year-old who pledged her love to a man a lifetime ago, but transformed through the experience of grief.
Grief drops us. The pieces that once fit easily are lost and new parts form.
We determine to be ready for life without the one thing that matters more than anything. Then, we say, F*ck it! I’d rather die.
Fortunately, or unfortunately as it feels at the time, we know better. We could never willingly inflict the pain of loss onto our loved ones.
So, we determine to be ready, to turn the page to our next stage of life. We do this over and over again.
We take baby steps when we long for gargantuan leaps. We smile and laugh and find ourselves caught off guard when the tears engulf us again.
Grief is kind of like being a teenager; emotions are raw and we’re growing, but we can’t see it. Like a teenager wants to be grown, we want to be woke.
Who’s to say when we’re ready? Just the quiet voice that whispers, Yes!