By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published September 22, 2023
When I first became a widow, the thought of ever dating again was thoroughly abhorrent. I knew some widows remarried, but it was difficult to envision myself with any other man than my late husband.
Also, I kept remembering a conversation we had shortly before he died, as we were walking on the beach. We were talking about a relative, who had been widowed and then remarried, and I assured him that if he died, I would never do that.
Still, when you have been happily married and are accustomed to having someone to share the bits and pieces of daily life with, the emptiness when they’re gone can become unbearable. Eating supper with someone is comforting, since most of us are brought up in families where this meal was shared. Even when glasses of milk were upended and tempers flared, this was your family and you ate with them.
After 33 years of marriage, it was painful to suddenly sit down to a meal alone. Worse still was the fact that my cooking skills are extremely primitive, and the food was just passable. A crossword puzzle became a way to distract myself from the solitary meal.
When a man I’d known for a while invited me out for supper, I was ready to go. Yes, this was dating again, an activity I had despised in my younger years, but things were different. Unlike the wild and wooly days of my twenties, I had strict boundaries that wouldn’t be crossed. It was pleasant to go to a restaurant with a man and intriguing to get the male point of view on various topics.
It wasn’t long, though, before things went awry. He was showing me photos he had taken of a statue in front of a church, when he accidentally swiped too far and revealed some images that were, shall we say, distasteful. My interest in him immediately waned, and that was the end of our dating journey.
Another fellow met me at a coffee bar, which had been voted one of Atlanta’s best, and he brought along a thermos of his own coffee. I found this rather odd, especially when the shop owner gave him a meaningful glance, as if to say, “Hey, Cheap Skate, how about buying something?” Needless to say, I purchased my own latte.
My relatives pitched in, trying to find me a suitable partner. My cousin Julie and her sister-in-law Kathleen came to visit, and we went to a local Irish pub for lunch. Kathleen had to take a phone call, so she went outside. When she came back in, she was all smiles.
“I saw the nicest man outside,” she proclaimed. “He was walking his dog and he waved and smiled at me. I was going to invite him to have lunch with us.”
I had seen the man she was referring to. “That was my pastor,” I said, and we all collapsed in laughter.
Truth be told, I’ve realized that, despite the loneliness, I have so much to thank God for. My peaceful little yard with chipmunks, hummingbirds, doves and the occasional possum. My quiet writing routine, daily Mass, getting together with friends, helping other widows by writing about my own experiences.
At times I believe everything would be perfect if a knight on a white horse thundered into my life and smoothed all the rough edges. Still, I’ve seen enough relationships to know it’s a huge gift to have a marriage that moves along happily. This was the kind of relationship I enjoyed for 33 years.
Surely I can now accept that, just as lightning doesn’t strike the same place twice, most people only have one great love—and some people, sadly, don’t even have that.
We are made in the image and likeness of God, and God is love. Something deep within us longs to love and be loved. The connection we seek is modeled on a supernatural love that never fails us. It’s a love that comes from someone who will never leave us, who will never give up on us and who will never die.
God’s love is everlasting, unchanging and perfect. His love never disappoints, never brings heartbreaks and unhappiness. So whether or not I marry again, I know, deep in my soul, that as long as I have a connection with God, I will always be cherished, encouraged and loved. For someone like me, this must be enough.