Five Years

 

Five years ago tomorrow I wrote this.

She is still gone. I am still here. My world is still lonelier than it was five years ago.

I still love her. I still miss her. I will love and miss her for the rest of my life. She was my best friend and my closest advisor. She was never afraid to call BS on me when I deserved it. Part of me is in the grave with her and always will be.

Life goes on. Things have improved from five years ago. I went from broke to wealthy – at least my standard of wealthy.* A second son has married and my married children have given me three grandchildren to enjoy. (The oldest looks just like my late wife did when my wife was that granddaughter’s age.) I have the best job I have ever had in my life, working on NASA’s Lunar Gateway. I have been invited to write a book for The Anatomy of the Ship series. That puts me at the top of my professional game in the two fields that matter most to me. I am in good health. Life is good. Lonely, but good.

I would trade it all to have Janet back, but that is not happening. So I continue to go forward.

For those wondering, I am dating. Living alone stinks, so I am seeking someone to be the second Mrs. Seawriter. However 2020-2021 was not a great time to seek a mate. Covid slammed the door on that just as I was ready to venture out. The world is only now beginning to return to what it was before then. Plus, it needs to be the right woman.

Yes, I am being choosy. The inflexible thing is that whomever I marry has to understand that I still love my late wife and always will, and not feel jealous or intimidated by that. That I have room to love another as well. One of the women I am seeing is a widow, who lost her husband to cancer the year before I lost Janet.  She understands that, especially since she still loves her late husband. I do not discourage that and she does not discourage my love for Janet.

There is more (of course). I do not want to get involved with anyone capable of having children who has not had them. To go through life without having raised children is something I view as a tragedy. As I am in my sixties, I consider myself past my sell-by date when it comes to having more children. Even assuming I found someone of child-bearing age foolish enough willing to marry me, I could not see myself putting a woman in the position of choosing me over the opportunity for a child.

I want to find someone who is smart, and with a sense of humor. That is more important to me than looks. (It was the first time around. I honestly never noticed how good-looking Janet was when I decided she was the one. Her smarts and humor sealed the deal with me.) Someone in reasonably good health. I would kind of like not to outlive the second Mrs. Seawriter. I would go through losing another spouse again, and stick to her until the bitter end again, but I would rather not. (Selfish, I know, but I am probably good for another twenty years, and don’t want another hole in my heart.) I would hope she shared the same religion as me, or if not, respect my belief. Definitely not crazy. I am too old for crazy. I want a friend, though – and hopefully a good advisor.

It sounds transactional. It is and it is not. Love develops from a solid foundation. I spent three years laying that foundation with Janet before we married. Nearly 50 years later I realize how important that was. (And how lucky I was.) You don’t find what you are looking for unless you know what you want. I’ve been loved by the best, and hope lighting will strike twice.

* Wealthy means you can maintain the lifestyle at which you wish to live and are comfortable in without working. It is not a matter of salary or savings. You could have ten times what I have, but if you are spending it twenty times faster you are not rich – you are high-level working poor.

Published in Marriage
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There are 16 comments.

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  1. Manny Coolidge
    Manny
    @Manny

    Children, grandchildren, wealth (whatever that may be), and career success.  God has blessed you.  Some day you will be re-united with her.  May God bring you peace.

    • #1
  2. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Losing a spouse is just plain one of the worst ordeals a human being can experience. It changes one’s life in a way that other losses – parents, siblings, friends – simply do not. One goes from being a beloved husband or beloved wife to being….what? Nothing! When I lost my husband a little over a year ago, it was not an unexpected death. His health had been declining for some time, and indeed he was on in-home hospice care. Still, his death was a shock. It felt like my life was over, and I realized that the reason it felt like that was because it was over – the life I knew for 35+ years was forever gone, and all my memories served only to intensify the loss.

    I have widow friends who have helped me a great deal. They have been through this and so we’re able to understand one another in a way that others just can’t. I hope you have had support that has helped you.

    What helped you the most through the first few years?

    • #2
  3. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    Manny (View Comment):

    Children, grandchildren, wealth (whatever that may be), and career success. God has blessed you. Some day you will be re-united with her. May God bring you peace.

    Yeah

    • #3
  4. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Manny (View Comment):

    Children, grandchildren, wealth (whatever that may be), and career success. God has blessed you. Some day you will be re-united with her. May God bring you peace.

    Very well said, Manny. You expressed my thoughts exactly.

    @Seawriter, I know what you are going through; I lost my wife 25 years ago after 33 years of marriage. You have my sympathy.

    • #4
  5. Saint Augustine Member
    Saint Augustine
    @SaintAugustine

    I kind of wanted to stay out of this thread because it’s too emotional and kind of sad, but how can I stay out of it? I have to be here because I have to say this:

    This is one of the greatest things ever written on Ricochet.

    • #5
  6. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    What helped you the most through the first few years?

    Really and truly?  My sons and my faith. My sons stood by me during the first year and since then. They had all moved out of the house by then, and had their own lives elsewhere, but they found time for me.

    I also believe God had a purpose in this, both for my wife and myself.  She grew during her illness as did I, including over these last five years. I cannot say I wanted this, but I do believe it was necessary.

    Let me add one more thing. In a real marriage you are not two individuals. You become one individual with two independent minds. That is the reason it is so uniquely devastating. You don’t just lose your spouse, you lose part of yourself.

    • #6
  7. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Painter Jean (View Comment):
    What helped you the most through the first few years?

    Really and truly? My sons and my faith. My sons stood by me during the first year and since then. They had all moved out of the house by then, and had their own lives elsewhere, but they found time for me.

    I also believe God had a purpose in this, both for my wife and myself. She grew during her illness as did I, including over these last five years. I cannot say I wanted this, but I do believe it was necessary.

    Let me add one more thing. In a real marriage you are not two individuals. You become one individual with two independent minds. That is the reason it is so uniquely devastating. You don’t just lose your spouse, you lose part of yourself.

    Your last observation is so very, very true. It’s not the case that when my husband died, I went back to being the single person I was before we were together: that person simply doesn’t exist anymore, because over the years we grew together.  As you put it so well, we became one individual with two independent minds. It was how we lived our life, who I was.

    Faith has been essential for me as well, a comfort and a hope. Without it I believe I would despair, or perhaps I should say succumb to it.

    • #7
  8. BDB Coolidge
    BDB
    @BDB

    I’m happy to hear the good news embedded in this.  None of us when passed would wish our survivor to half-live as some sort of museum to our own memory.

    • #8
  9. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    BDB (View Comment):

    I’m happy to hear the good news embedded in this. None of us when passed would wish our survivor to half-live as some sort of museum to our own memory.

    Agreed. Losing a spouse really is like losing a limb. As I stated in comment 6, you become one individual with two independent minds. Picking up your life afterwards is like learning to live without that leg or arm you have lost. It can be done – and has been what I am doing and continue to do. It does not replace that limb, though. You don’t have to live a half-life after losing a limb. You do have to work at seeing you do not.

    • #9
  10. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Agreed. Losing a spouse really is like losing a limb. As I stated in comment 6, you become one individual with two independent minds. Picking up your life afterwards is like learning to live without that leg or arm you have lost. It can be done – and has been what I am doing and continue to do. It does not replace that limb, though. You don’t have to live a half-life after losing a limb. You do have to work at seeing you do not.

    “Work” is the appropriate word here, because it takes conscious effort. This has been where Faith has been so critical for me, because it reminds me of who I am now that part of me is gone: who am I? You’re a child of God.  That entails obligations and responsibilities on my part and helps give purpose. I believe this is is especially important when we surviving spouses served as caregivers – in my case, my husband required an increasing amount of care the last two years of his life. His health was the sun around which we orbited. (That is not a complaint – it made us even more closely bonded than we already were.) That all-consuming focus vanished when he died, creating a different kind of loss, the loss of daily structure. 

    • #10
  11. Hartmann von Aue Member
    Hartmann von Aue
    @HartmannvonAue

    God bless and protect you, Mark.

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    My heart is so full from your heartfelt sharing, Seawriter. Thank you, and may your life’s journey continue to have many blessings from your family and your faith.

    • #12
  13. Painter Jean Moderator
    Painter Jean
    @PainterJean

    Seawriter, I’m curious – I took a look at the Wikipedia entry for the Anatomy of a Ship series, and it sounds fascinating. Which ship will you be writing about?

    • #13
  14. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Painter Jean (View Comment):

    Seawriter, I’m curious – I took a look at the Wikipedia entry for the Anatomy of a Ship series, and it sounds fascinating. Which ship will you be writing about?

    Battleship Texas BB-35.

    • #14
  15. AUMom Member
    AUMom
    @AUMom

    What a loving tribute to both Janet and the relationship of marriage. You did it well. The proof is in your sons and their families. We’ve watched you cope and grow and inspire for a long time. Thank you. 

    When I saw your title, I thought it couldn’t be five years already. 

    • #15
  16. Raxxalan Member
    Raxxalan
    @Raxxalan

    @seawriter, Thank you for writing this.  It helps somehow.

     

    • #16
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