Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Would Our Spouses Be Happy .....

..... to know that we're in a relationship with someone?  Would they be happy to know that we might even love someone else?

A friend asked me today how it's possible to reconcile the love of two men ..... one very much alive, the other .... very much dead.

I told her that I'm not sure how it's possible, but it is.  And that's a fact.
I consider it to be the way a pregnant woman feels when expecting her second (or later) child.  You wonder how in the the world you are going to be able to love this next child as much as you love your first.  And you doubt that it's possible.  But then ..... the moment that second (or later) child arrives .... you wonder what in the world you were thinking?!  You hold that baby and forget any doubt that you ever had.  The second that child arrives your heart grows bigger.  Big enough to hold another person.

It's the same when you fall in love.  At first, you can NOT imagine ever loving another person the way you loved your spouse.  You know that it's not possible to love another man/woman .... ever.  In fact, you find that thought appalling.  You still feel married.  There is no room in your heart for another love.  And there never will be.

But then one day, when you least expect it ..... you meet someone.  Someone who is special enough to catch your attention.
And you feel a strange sensation in your heart.  Like it beats a little faster.  Or skips one or two beats.
You decide that you'd like to know more about this person.  And he/she feels the same way about you.
Then one day, one day that seems no different than any other day ...... you realize something.
You realize that your heart has somehow grown a bit larger.  And you never saw it coming.
You didn't really feel it happening.  You just wake up one day and know that something feels "different".
Your heart now holds love for two people.  And it's nothing short of a miracle.  And 100% possible.

And I'm here to prove it.
Jim is in my heart.
Jim will always be in my heart.

And yet my heart has grown larger.  And now holds love for another man.
A man who is different from Jim.
A man who knows he's not in a competition with Jim.
A man who is secure in the knowledge that I love Jim, will always love Jim ..... and now I love him.  I love him as much as I loved Jim.
And that is truly a miracle.

What would Jim think of this?
What DOES Jim think of this?
I think he's thrilled.
I believe that he's as happy with this new love as I am.
I know that in Jim's heart ..... after God ..... I was number one.
Just as he was in mine.

He wanted me to be happy.
He wanted me to feel loved.
And secure.
And special.

Just as I would want him to feel.

People who have not been widowed don't get it.
Just one more thing they don't get.
I'm glad that they don't.
I hope they never need to.

But the rest of us ..... we're learning things we never wanted to know.
Like it's possible to love another person .... and not feel guilty or disloyal to our spouse.
At least I hope that you're all learning that.  Or will learn it.
Because true love wants only the best for its love.

I know that Jim wanted nothing but the best for me.
And he would love the man who loves me the way he did.
A man who puts me first.
A man who loves me unconditionally.

Yes, there have been times when I've wondered if it's worth it to love another man ..... and risk losing another one.
Is it worth giving my heart away again ..... perhaps to lose it all over again?
There have been days when I've thought, "No.  Don't love another man ..... you'll never survive that kind of loss again."

But I know that Jim would not want that for me.
He wouldn't want me to guard my heart so tightly that I never feel love again.
He wouldn't want me to be afraid to give my heart away ..... to feel too fragile to love and be loved.

And truthfully, I don't want that for me, either.
If I had my life and love to live all over again with Jim, knowing that I would lose him as tragically and as early as I did ..... I would still choose to love him all over again.
His love was worth the grief.

All love is worth the grief.
Being loved, feeling loved, giving love ..... is worth the risk.
Jim would think so.
And I've learned to agree with him.


  1. Thank you for teaching me the lesson today about our expanding hearts.

  2. Beautiful Janine. Thank you for sharing the truth. In the end it will only be the love we gave and the love we received that matter. We have to risk it. We have to love again and understand our hearts can hold it all.

  3. I really love the baby analogy. And I think about CS Lewis' quote about love so often. It was on Dave's memorial program. It's burned in my brain, but I'm learning little by little to actually LIVE it.

    "To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”
    -CS Lewis

  4. thank you so much, Janine! as someone who is still in the "can't imagine it happening again" stage, i know in my head that this may happen to me as it has to you. someday i hope to know it in my heart, too. i just can't imagine it, though. :( congrats to you!!

  5. Thanks. This is something I am currently dealing with. You literally took the words right out of my mouth...I posted a very similar post several months ago. Glad to know I'm not alone.

  6. I sometimes confuse your life with my life!


  7. Cassie, thank you for that beautiful quote. I don't remember hearing it before. It's perfect and lovely .... and so very true. Thank you.

    Dan .... it's a little scary sometimes, isn't it? Love you, my Friend. :)

    1. I love him as much as I loved Jim....I was getting all of it until that sentence. I don't understand how you can say that and profess for the last 4 years your unwavering love for Jim. Love him in a way different from Jim, love him because he is a special person, love him for not competing with Jim, love him for whatever reason, but not "as much"....When I hear widows say that I cringe. Sorry...just the way I am.

    2. Anon ... you have no reason to apologize, just as I don't. This is a place where we are safe to write what we truly feel. Some people will "get it" ..... some won't.
      I will never stop loving Jim. Ever. And I have more than "professed" to love him over the past 4 years ..... I have stated a fact, nothing but the truth.

      I didn't write that I love them exactly the same, or for the same reasons, or in the same way. I don't believe that's possible. At least, not possible for me. But I have no way of knowing, or authority to state, that it's impossible for anyone to love that way.

      In the same way that I love my first three children AS MUCH as I love my last three children, I love this man as much as I love Jim. My SIX children are each loved the same amount, though they are six totally different people. Each one is unique and each has different aspects to them that I love in a different way from the others. I don't compare my love for them, or compare their similarities or differences. They are each a unique being, but I can, and DO love them the same amount.

      I think that you and I are at very different points on this path and thus I can't MAKE you understand me, or believe me, for that matter. Though I have no reason to lie, no desire to make you "cringe". I have always, and will always, write what I am feeling in my heart, gut and mind. I write honestly ..... sometimes too honestly.

      I am the only person who loves Jim the way I love him. I am the only person who loves V the way that I love him. I write what I know .... and what I feel.
      And I write to encourage all of those behind me on this path. To let you know that you're not alone.

      I don't understand why that sentenced offended you the way it did, just as you don't understand how I could feel that way.
      I'm ok with that. All that matters is that I know how *I* feel .... and how *I* love.
      I have loved two men in my life. Truly, deeply loved. One is now dead, though my love for him is not.
      The other is very much alive .... and very much loved.
      I feel nothing short of blessed to have been able to be loved so deeply by these two men ..... and to have been able to love them.
      Thank you for feeling free to write your feelings .... and for having the courage to write them.
      I wish you peace and contentment ..... and wonderful memories.

  8. "You must make a Choice, to take a Chance, or your life will never Change."
    At 1 yr out, I couldn't imagine even considering another man.
    At 19 months out, I have just signed up with an online dating site. Although it freaks me out to think that my 'story' and my photos are being delivered into the inboxes of strange dudes across North America, I know that if I don't put myself out there nothing will change.

  9. At just under 1 year out I met a special man who could become a big part of my future. Just at this time 13 months out I am not sure that I am ready for commitment. We are taking our time and moving slowly. Thanks Janine for the encouragement, you are shining a light for all of us who come after. Also thank you for putting into words the thoughts I have been carrying in my heart.

    Cassie, I have stolen your quote and posted it on my facebook profile. It is one worth passing to everyone. There are so many hurt and damaged people out there who have lost the dream of love.

    I do know that my husband wanted me to find love again and I hope to be able to do this in the future. His love for me even extended to him telling me this during the time we knew that he was dying. At that time I did not feel it would ever be possible. I do now know that it is possible, just not sure I am ready for it, but love comes when and where it will and not at out command.

    To Anonymous, the love you felt for your husband will become a very different love to any love you feel for someone else. That love for your husband was the love of the person you were then, the love you feel in the future will be for the person you have become. The death of a spouse moulds us into a different person from the one we used to be. I am still changing into that person. We all are.

  10. This made me cry. But I needed it. My husband's father told me shortly after John passed away that John wouldn't want me to be alone, that I was too good of a person to live a life without love and companionship. While it may not have been the best timing and I'm still not ready to hear that but I understand now what he meant. Our hearts can and do heal and open for others. Thank you for sharing this!

  11. i love how you related it to having kids... i was 6 months pregnant when my first son dies in an accident "everyone" was so glad i had another baby to love...25 years later my husband dies in an accident "everyone" thinks i should be alone the rest of my life how could i ever replace my dead husband funny no one thought i was replacing my dead child

  12. Thank you so much Janine. You hold up hope for me. Bless you for your honesty.

  13. Whenever I was asked what the late husband would think of this or that decision/choice, I would say, "It doesn't matter b/c dead people don't get a vote."

    The anon poster who found the "just as much" statement cringe-worthy might not have the experiences needed to "get it". But falling in love after having been widowed is a bit like being widowed itself, it's difficult to really understand unless it's happened to you.

  14. Beautifully written & effectively communicated. You wrote the words I've yet to be able to say. Thank you for sharing this. :-)

  15. Thank you for sharing your brave words...

    ... and for painting for us a different picture of life and widowhood.

    xoxo :)

  16. You must make a Choice, to take a Chance, or your life will never Change- awesome quote and however difficult it may be to change we must, its really a matter of survival!

    I think another "C" is definitely Courage, the courage to change.

    Read another quote the other day that I am trying to live right now "better to live 1 day as a lion, than 100 as a sheep"

    Mike from Canada

  17. I am a widow of 6 months and 1 week. Though this posting brought tears I am grateful for having read it. Thank you also, for sharing the quote from C.S. Lewis.

    Many blessings to each of you.

  18. I'm a widow of 9 weeks with a 2 month son, a 21 month daughter along with 4 stepchildren we share together.
    I'm happy that it is working for you; however, that is not how I feel at the moment.
    I've been through a divorce, now I'm widow?! Nah...I don't think I'll ever get over David and I know that it would NOT be fair to another man.
    Every man would fall short of my late husband, and I'll love him for the rest of my life. How could that be fair to someone else? I know I wouldn't want to be second to a dead wife.
    I'm happy with our children. I can't imagine my husband ever "wanting" me to be with anyone else. It would break my heart if I believed he was in love with someone else in heaven.
    Finding happiness doesn't have to mean, being with another man.