Forgetting all about the kids, she starts to walk down her sidewalk to meet me. I walk up and meet her halfway and the group of kids and parents head to the next house – my presence for my kids irrelevant for the conquest of obtaining candy. After a quick hug, she comes right out with it.
“Are you dating anyone yet?”
Only Mrs. Thompson could blurt out such a statement that makes me smile before it makes me wince. It was the same tone and aggressiveness she used on us over 30 years ago when we were all playing in the backyard with 4x4 trucks and she would come home, “Have you boys had lunch yet? Come on, you need some food.” You normally had very little dialogue with Mrs. Thompson.
I laugh as I shrug, “No, not yet. Just taking care of the kids.”
“You need to date a widow,” she said, not having the least amount of interest of my thoughts on this topic. I was half expecting her to tell me that I need to eat and go into the house and fix myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
“You’re young, you have time, find yourself a widow and enjoy life.”
I pointed to my children four houses away, thanked her for the advice, and said goodbye. One of the mothers asked me what that was all about and I told her she wants me to date a widow. We both laughed. I had no intention of dating a widow.
We went out as friends about once a month – great being on the same schedule. One of my biggest fears of dating would be to explain to someone why I sometimes couldn’t go out on a Saturday night at 7pm because the kids needed more “dad” time. Cheryl is in a situation where her girls need more “mom” time. Most nights we would go out past 10pm for a few hours. Kids first, us second. I think it was this common view point we both had that brought us closer.
Although, on paper, there were many reasons we should probably stay friends, we decided a few months ago to start dating. There’s been way too much over thinking the past few years on how I’m managing my grief, so I decided for this relationship, to let it be what it is. It is what it is. And right now, we are getting along; all the obstacles on paper will have to wait.
Mrs. Thompson nailed it. Even when I thought she was wrong. “Listen to me, will you listen. You need to date yourself a widow. They know. They understand. It would be a good fit for you.”
Maybe I should go back and ask her, now how do I manage a relationship while living in my parent’s basement?