No matter our age, love and new commitment are still possible.
Is it possible to find love again after grieving a departed spouse? One woman’s story, as told to Orfa Astorga, suggests that new beginnings are always possible:
I became a widow after 15 years of marriage, and to be honest, I rejected the idea of getting married again. I thought that true love could only happen once in a lifetime, and I was resolved to be faithful to the memory of my deceased husband. Not only that: I also had my children and an established professional career. The years of my youthful vigor were receding into the past, and with them, that marvelous and natural attraction.
One day, I caught myself taking more than usual care preparing my personal appearance before going to my weekly breakfast with my friends at our usual restaurant. It’s an environment in which you can tell who has come to the restaurant to socialize, who has come for business, and who has simply come to eat breakfast alone with a magazine or a book. The latter case seemed to apply to the person with a friendly smile who was accustomed to having breakfast there, and who, from time to time, observed me very discreetly — something that rarely goes unnoticed by a woman.
He was possibly a little older than I; good-looking, middle-aged, but aged well. Going by the way he looked at me, he was surely single, maybe divorced … perhaps widowed. And there was something more about him that I never imagined: we had a mutual friend, and he knew about me.
At some point, waiting in line to pay, we exchanged a few friendly words, and I discovered his peaceful and transparent gaze, so similar to that of my deceased husband. Later, our mutual friend formally introduced us and told me more about him: he was working in the city temporarily, and his situation was like mine — he was a widower with adolescent children.
Immediately, I made an effort to lose weight and get in better shape, and to take care of my clothes, my hair, and my perfume; I even started to exercise. My friends told me I looked rejuvenated … and they hadn’t heard how my heart was beating differently at certain moments.
After several coincidences and brief chats, we became friends, and he invited me to go out. I accepted the invitation, only with the idea of establishing a good friendship … but that’s not how it was to be.
After a certain period of time, he proposed that we start dating, and I accepted, realizing that the inclination to search for a relationship at my age, even though I was a widow, continued to be part of who I was, and it included some dynamics that I couldn’t escape. I felt attracted to him.
When we explicitly decided to start dating, we spoke about our past marriages, about our past loving relationships that were cut off abruptly by destiny, and about the certainty that the purity of a new love would not offend their memory, recorded indelibly in our personal life stories.
A Widow(er)’s Prayer
And we began to experience the specific processes of falling in love, as if we were following a pre-determined itinerary:
- The impulse to be together, very close to each other: People don’t fall in love simply because they want to; rather, what makes you fall in love is that special something that the other person gives, which affects your whole being. Our senses are impressed without us doing anything, and it makes our heart beat strongly without our thinking much about it. Thus, we share a world of deeply personal and affectionate feelings and sentiments as we mutually reveal ourselves as man and woman. And we discover each other, desiring together the intimacy of a soft kiss, a tender embrace, or a gentle caress.
- Closeness that is only and exclusively ours. A closeness in which we both desire intensely to affirm, from the very depths of our heart, “I love only you, more than anything else.” A world of intimacy in which no one else may participate.
- This will never pass away. I remembered very well that first debut of my feelings like a story from the past, full of cloudy mornings or golden evenings; of flowers moistened by crystal drops of rain, of shining stars … Full of all those characteristics that we human beings see in things that make us love them, even if they don’t have the ability to respond to that love, but whose goodness and beauty inspire us to put our feelings into words.
- I thought that such feelings were something I could no longer experience … but that was not the case. We both experienced them anew, and once again desired that those moments should never pass away. We hoped to be able to find them always amidst the ups and downs of life, preserving the “forever” of our love.
- Giving and receiving. Love fills us with enthusiasm, it enlightens our mind and it strengthens our heart through this process of giving and receiving. We discover new nuances as we explore new ways of bringing out the best of ourselves for our beloved. We seek to express, through a thousand small gestures, this great desire to be the best gift for the other, infusing everything with love, transforming concupiscence into benevolence as our shared way of being.
- The impulse towards life. Despite being more than 40 years old, we feel fully capable of renewing and giving life to the world around us, with an energy that arises from an inner source of life different from any other motive for loving our existence, discovering the new in the old, with a light that is more alive. We are starting to discuss marriage.
Beyond the level of attraction, each person has to decide to commit his or her whole being to a loving union. Personal consent, the “I do,” is the crown of a self-giving that encompasses every level of our being.
This article was originally published in the Spanish Edition of Aleteia.