autumn days

Sunday, April 30, 2017

New Love

Each Wednesday I have a beloved friend, whom I call "my favorite wife", love on my children while I go play with other adults.  This is a way for me to see a different friend each week, investing in relationships that feed my soul.  I've been on thai-curry-and-ice-cream dates with a friend whose husband has just died.  I've been on watching-ducks-on-flood-plains-in-the-park dates with a single dad friend in Washington.  I've been on Goodwill-bins-and-Irish-car-bomb-drink dates with my attorney's legal secretary, my smoking hot friend who wears all black and gifts me mixed CDs.  I've been on bibimbap dates with groups of laughing and crying homeschooling girlfriends.  I've been on talk-about-everything-in-our-hearts dates with my beloved cousin-in-law's wife.  I've gotten to go on dates with my cross-country-motorcycling-line-dancing-farmer friend.  Other dates too.  There are wild plans for many more dates without children.  What an adventure!  I look forward to and cherish these playful Wednesday night dates!

Six weeks ago, with a last minute cancellation, I couldn't find a Wednesday night date.  I sat in my car outside the accountant's office, crying over the intensity of assembling all my family's financial information for the last year.  This is one of the zillion responsibilities my partner used to manage that I know get to tackle and embrace.  The many firsts as a widow can be surprisingly hard.  In planning my evening, I dried my eyes for a moment to look at movie listings.  With a good movie, attending a show alone can be awesome.  My choices that day were children's movies, war films, and horror flicks.  I would rather sit alone in my car than choose one of these.  And I was going to... until my friend J said he could step out of his son's class for a walk.  This stepping out of class shifted more than either of us expected.  I had met this friend in my Dougy Center Pathways Program group in July.  My partner died last autumn and my family transitioned out of the Pathway Program.  J and I somehow forgot to exchange phone numbers, though I kept in touch with others from the group.

Four months later, my son wanted to go to a specific arcade, and we couldn't go until Monday after errands.  When we were a block from the arcade, I spotted two familiar people.  I didn't know in that moment who they were, but I knew I needed to stop to talk with them.  My family got out of the car and we visited with J and his son for 45 minutes.  We greeted each other with hugs and were so happy to see each other again.  J held my wee babe as our big kids played in the trees.  We all endlessly talked and laughed.  I noticed how much I was laughing with J, knew it had been a long time since I'd laughed that much, and thought of how I'd like to spend more time laughing with J.  When it was time to go our separate ways, J buckled my wee one into her carseat and we worked through our busy schedules to plan a play date for six weeks later.  So it was J who agreed to a spontaneous walk on that date night when no other friend was available.

For that first walk, we strolled into the sunset, holding hands, and laughing.  We went on a hike the next day.  Sitting atop Rocky Butte, holding hands, we shared more details of our personal stories with one another.  J said he didn't think he was ready for a romantic relationship.  I said, "Me neither,... but doesn't this feel nice?"  The next day we went to the library and snuggled into a corner with windows and books with my wee babe.  Since then, we have had a "hot date" with each other every night via text or telephone.  And our connection and love for one another continues to grow.  We are so grateful for each other, feeling like our partners have hand-selected us for one another.  We feed and support and heal each other in ways others cannot.  J loves my children so gently, playfully, and lovingly.  As his only son grows more independent, he treasures this connection with my younger children who still want to hear bedtime stories, talk about their day, and hold hands.  My children and I are discovering new depth within ourselves, feeling more grounded, excited, supported, and playful than we have in a long while.  With our new loves in our lives, my children are laughing their way to greater independence, resilience, perseverance, and joy.

Just a few days ago we opened up our schedules and got to play with J's son again.  We greeted each other with hugs and then spent an hour slamming each other with dodge balls in a room of trampolines.  Pizza, puns, and chocolates were the sweet ending to our first family date.  It is such a surprising experience for my children and me to fall slowly and fully in love with J and his son.  We are thankful for these extraordinary people every day as our connections grow stronger.  I hold no specific destination in my heart for where this new love will lead.  I trust we are following our hearts and moving in the right direction.  I trust myself in these choices, in leading my children to more loving connections with each other, in finding more patience and grace within my parenting toolbox, in moving more completely into my own strength and color, and in following our hearts to create space for those that love us back so fully.  I am so grateful every day for this new love that reflects for me my own strength and beauty, for this love that brings new light into our lives, and for this love that brings my children and me closer to our true selves.

Manifesting overflowing hearts everywhere...

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