4.28.2007

Till Death Do Us Part

“Remember when you asked what was next for me?”

I didn’t remember. Over the last seven months, James and I have had so many conversations, but this one seemed different.

“Well, I’ve been thinking about the next steps,” he continued. “Obviously since Faith’s death, there has been a hole in my life.”

I nodded, but said nothing.

“…and although I can never completely fill the hole, I realize that I miss the intimacy and companionship that comes with a relationship.” James said.

I started to get a little nervous, wondering where this conversation was headed. In an effort to help Faith’s family in the months after her passing, I’d been a regular fixture at the house—taxiing the kids home from school twice a week, enjoying James' home-cooked dinners, playing Scrabble with the family. But in all this time, James had never spoken so personally with me. I tried not to let my uneasiness show and remained silent.

“So, what do you think of Match?” he asked.

Match? I couldn’t believe that the spouse of my deceased friend was asking me about an online dating service. “I’ve never tried it,” I said. “But friends of mine have with various levels of success. However, I’ve heard that eHarmony is better.”

As our discussion continued, I felt a sense of overwhelming guilt. Here I was offering dating advice to my friend’s husband. It felt both surreal and awkward at the same time. But as we chatted, I had a flashback of an entirely different conversation--one that Faith and I had shortly after receiving her stage-4 diagnosis. Lying in a hospital bed, weakened by the chemotherapy we hoped would save her, she expressed a desire that James might someday move on and find someone.

“I’m going to start taking applications for the position of James' next wife,” she joked.

I immediately took the defensive. “Faith, don’t start talking nonsense. It’s not even funny. You are going to be fine.” Maybe I was being a little abrupt with her, but I couldn’t bear to think of a life without my friend. I needed her to be optimistic.

But Faith needed to talk, to prepare herself for the inevitable.

“We’ve had such a wonderful marriage. James has always thought of my happiness first. He is a wonderful husband, and deserves to happy again.”

I listened as she talked about their blissful twenty years together and felt envious. I hadn’t known many couples that were as happy as Faith and James. Burned by love so many times, I took comfort and found hope in their relationship. It was possible that two people really could fulfill those martial vows ‘till death do us part.’

And then I came back to my present conversation with a shy, serious, 52-year old man, who’d actually lived those words and now found himself without his dearest companion. Faith would not have wanted this for James; and I should not be hesitant to want something more for him either.

“…There is also this group called “It’s Just Lunch,” I heard myself say. “When I come next week, I’ll bring you the number.”

It’s been said that people who have experienced happy marriages are the most eager to find love again after the death of a spouse. Moving on and beginning again isn’t an insult to the memory of a loved one. It is a tribute to a love that the surviving spouse can't live without.

3 comments:

kenju said...

It is the best sign of a good man! Yes, he ought to find someone. He's not old, but time's a wasting.

Suvii said...

I think it's great that you are helping him with this. I think it's very brave that he's ready to move on. I can't imagine how hard it must be to think about dating again, after the loss of your lover, friend and companion of the last 20 years!!!

mrsmogul said...

I wouldn;t know what to do if my husband left this earth before me. That's so nice of you to help :)