A WIDOW'S FORAY INTO DATING AFTER LOSS
I like technology a little, but I’m not really a gadget person. My late husband? Techie geek and fully addicted to gadgets. Prime example? I rolled into 2012 still rocking a Blackberry smartphone with a trackball. Yes, a trackball not the updated trackpad. What can I say? I’m a creature of habit, so if it wasn’t broken, I had no intention to make a change. The universe was not on team #blackberryforlife, so it conspired with my 3 year old son to make my phone disappear. Although inconvenient, I stayed stubborn and phoneless for about a week until my husband put his foot down and forced me to get a new cell phone. I pouted, whined and tantrumed just a little, but he was unmoved and I begrudgingly agreed to secure a new device. I spent my entire lunch hour on Friday, June 8, 2012 staring and nodding while an animated, 20 something salesman tried to get me excited about my new phone. The only thing that snapped me out of my trance was his assertion that he could do nothing about my contacts since they are on the SIM card that was inside the missing phone. **cue sad music** I returned to my office and borrowed a friend’s phone to post a message on Facebook:
I called my husband and whined about not knowing how to use this “shiny new stupid phone”. He laughed at me but I took no offense because I knew I was being a big baby. Being his normal, good natured, techie self, he promised to spend time over the coming weekend explaining every single bell and whistle that my phone offered, and to copy all his contacts to my phone. That night, he and I, along with our 3.5 year old called it an early night and he promised to handle the phone issues on Saturday.
Fast forward to 16 hours later. Saturday. Picture me, standing on the curb outside the emergency room at a hospital near our home. 8:39 am. I know the exact time because I stared at the shiny, new, hunk of metal in my hand as I debated throwing it onto the hard concrete. Even in my heightened emotional state, the irony of the situation was not lost on me. There I stood, having had my husband declared dead 19 minutes earlier, with a shiny, new, stupid phone in my hand. A shiny, new, stupid phone without a single phone number programmed into it. Not one. Had there been numbers, I’m not even sure that I would have been able to navigate the fancy touch screens to make a call. That realization was the tipping of the scale and the crocodile tear escaped my eye and rolled down my chubby cheek. My mother and stepmother were on their way, but they hadn’t arrived yet. My father had taken our son and I was alone in every sense of the word. Aside from those 3, the only number that I knew by heart was my husband’s. My dead husband. Knowing his phone number wasn’t the least bit helpful. The fantastic emergency team supervisor that had driven me to the hospital approached and hugged me. She sank to the ground with me and allowed me to cry in her arms until my mother arrived.
About a week ago, I visited a cellular phone store to get some service on my current phone. I was adamant when the rep asked if I had backed up all 955 of my contacts. “Of course!”. 20 minutes and 1 master reset later, my phone sprung to life with ZERO contacts. For real? Yup, for real. I posted this status on Facebook:
For a few hours, I let this irritate me. Until I was reminded of the other time I found myself without contacts. I actually laughed a little. I almost allowed myself to get completely consumed by a situation that was sure to raise my blood pressure and have no positive outcome. Instead, I shrugged and released the tension. Losing it all on June 8 versus losing it all on August 2? Almost laughable really.
There was no comparison. It was as if I were trying to compare a plate of thick slab pork bacon to a pile of fake turkey “bacon”. I used quotes around that fake stuff because really, bacon is pork. Period. That other stuff is just turkey trying to fake the funk. Sure it’s shaped like real bacon and it tries to smell like real bacon, but it’s not. If you’ve chosen to eat it for health, religious or random reasons, there’s no denying that it simply isn’t real. Pretty good substitute if you can’t get the real thing, but it would never be mistaken for pork bacon. No hard feelings to you fake turkey “bacon” lovers, just my opinion. Two losses, two kinds of bacon, two totally different feelings.
Perspective is one of the most powerful tools that humans possess, yet all too often we fail to acknowledge its importance. I started dating about 2.5 years after my husband’s death. I had planned to take things light and easy, but the universe sent something else my way. I met someone who helped me remember the forgotten parts of myself. His presence and energy helped me smile from a place down deep and I allowed a tiny sparkle to return to my sad brown eyes. I fell in love and then my heart was broken. As the first relationship since my husband’s death, the heartbreak has an especially deep and visceral sting to it. Now that it’s over, I’m left to lick my wounds, release a few tears and process the lessons that it taught me. One thing that I know for sure – I will survive. If losing my husband didn’t kill me, the end of that relationship surely will not. Perspective. Thick slab pork bacon versus fake turkey “bacon” – there is no comparison. It hurts now but I haven’t a single doubt that the pain will ease. Things always feel different as the night passes to day; not always better, but different. There are many who are scared of love, terrified of opening their hearts and unwilling to take a risk. I’m living proof that the beautiful ride, no matter how short, is truly worth the risk. Losing my husband and soulmate has armed me with a fearlessness that I embrace. Heartbreak is heartbreak, but for a widow’s heart? Fake turkey bacon is just an imitation. Deep in the crevices of my battered heart, there is a small voice that knows real pork bacon will soon make its presence known.
Taya Dunn Johnson, www.TayaDunnJohnson.com