one fit widow

A Widow Dating – The First Date and a New Path

He sat across from me at our outdoor table as a warm breeze brushed my hair. The first thing that came to my mind was how incredibly handsome he was. Sunglasses framed his sculpted face, and he leaned forward intently focusing on our conversation as we made small talk about life, kids, work, and fitness. My arms crossed as we talked, my body language off-putting and distant but it didn’t seem to phase him. The conversation continued with relative ease and I even found myself laughing a time or two. Funny is very good in my book. Handsome is easy to come by, but funny is extraordinarily rare. His funny was dry, not funny *ha-ha* or obvious, but understated and intelligent. He was borderline reserved and more quiet than what I’d grown accustomed to. My late husband was loud, the life of the party, charismatic, and bold. The handsome man across the table was the opposite. More of a deep thinker, the man everyone in a room might notice at first but fade away later due to not making himself the center of attention.

I left to go to the ladies room and found myself checking my makeup and hair. As I caught myself primping I realized deep down inside I must actually care what he thought or I’d never be checking myself so intently. This revelation concerned me greatly because I had told myself a million times I was not ready to date. I was not ready to find another man attractive, and I certainly was not ready to open myself up to any additional pain or discomfort. I positioned my wedding rings in clear view as they hung around my neck on a chain close to my heart. I headed back to the table and the small talk continued for another hour. He glanced at my neck a time or two, I caught him as he eyed the rings and he looked away quickly as to not make his observation apparent.

After awhile he noticed I was chilly and asked the waiter to move us inside to a warmer spot. We walked inside the restaurant, and he removed the sunglasses he had been wearing all this time. For the first time, I saw his amazing blue eyes. I will never forget that moment, eyes as blue as the waters of the Caribbean, and a twinkle in his smile that made me wonder what he was thinking. I caught myself getting lost in his stare a time or two, feeling the warmth it offered and then being jolted back to life by a deep sense of guilt and reality. How was this my life? How could I be walking this parallel universe that included being on a first date with a man that gave me butterflies but also missing my husband all at the same time?

He walked me to my car, told me it was wonderful getting to know me, and then he politely took a few steps back. I got in my car, and I realized for the first time in a very long time I could find a man attractive. It was a whirlwind of emotions; excited, happy, sadness, guilt, and fear. Within a few minutes my phone text notification went off and once at a light safely, I looked down to see it was him texting me already. It simply read, “It was so wonderful to meet you, you are more beautiful in person, I’d like to see you again.” I smiled, felt warm and slightly flustered as I responded by simply saying, “I’d like that.”

A few weeks went by and between his busy schedule and mine we didn’t find a common time that would work to meet again. Finally he asked me to go hiking with him on a local mountain. Hiking is always a positive date option for me so I gladly accepted. We started our hike and I was determined to scare him off during the date. The two weeks of distance had given me enough time to convince myself I would not be dating him or anyone else for that matter. Yet I was there, on this date, regardless of what I had spinning around in my mind. I put on my most independent face, my stubborn bullheaded will, and I figured he would be gone before we hit a mile. Mitch always told me I was a lot to handle, but he admittedly loved that about me. He loved my fire, he loved my independence, and he loved my spirit. I told myself no other guy would appreciate that in me. I told myself I could not/would not be that lucky in love ever again.

We went a few miles back on the trail all the while maintaining a safe distance and a shallow conversation about the busy things that consume a life. Finally we came to a resting spot and that’s when he started to ask me more about Mitch and his plane crash. I was taken back at his pointed questions but decided this conversation would either make or break date #3. I pulled two apples out of my backpack and as I offered him one, a small plane flew over our heads. We both went very quiet as we watched it trace the sky and fly safely on. I always take these moments as Mitch saying hi, but as I watched the plane fly away my date broke the silence and began to tell me some of his story. He explained one of his best friends had been killed, December 2004 in a small plane crash. His best friend Brandon was piloting a Cirrus, which crashed in the Bridger Mountains in Montana. As he told me the story I could see the weight in his eyes and the look was all too familiar for me. The look a person gets when they grieve for someone they love, and the emptiness their absence leaves in the wake. This look is unmistakable, and at this moment I felt a connection to him and peace while being in his presence. I no longer saw him as just some guy, but instead, I saw him as someone who might just possibly understand my journey and the baggage I carried so deep inside my soul. My reservations lessened, my body language softened, and in my heart, I wanted to know him better.

I was not sure in that moment why our paths had crossed, but I knew deep in my gut he would be, in some capacity, part of my story.

To what extent, only time would tell….