The very night before my wonderful wife passed away she told me:
“If I die, I don’t want you to be on your own. I’d want you to be with someone else.”
It seemed ridiculous and completely irrelevant that she should make such an admission. We were on holiday, and she was without so much as a sign of ill health, but yet only a few hours later, I was indeed left to face a life without her.
When she’d made this statement, I’d expressed not wanting to be with anyone else, and probably made a big joke of the potential ball-ache of trying to find another marvellous woman whose only flaw would be falling for an imbecile like me.
I really meant what I said at the time (apart from the flaw and imbecile bits), though I appreciated her rational, and think it is part of what real love is about.
For me a huge part of loving someone is willing them to be happy, regardless of the implications for oneself.
She truly loved me, and it was a love well placed, as I loved her right back.
Since Samantha’s death six and a half years ago I have been occasionally quizzed if I was ‘ready’ to date again, and I - being the deflective dick that I am - would usually answer with ‘I was born ready’ or ‘why, has Martine McCutcheon/Britney Spears/Any member of Girls Aloud been asking for my number?’
Life in this period of time has been about focus, or of it not being available to me in abundance. Very much a case of having simple aims and aspirations, and naturally these have been more about my son than me.
Putting my life – some parts of it at least - on temporary hold, focussing all I could muster on providing a consistent and happy environment for my mini-colossus to thrive in.
In all honesty, and in the more thought out answers I’d provided to timely questions of potential romances, I would say I’ve been open to the idea of a different partner for a long time. Perhaps even subconsciously from THAT night before my wife’s death, and with her planting it with me.
I believe I know myself pretty well. I might not be able to pick the back of my hands out of a line-up, but know what I am good and bad with, and when things are right or wrong for me.
There’s a mass of general advice for widows and widowers about new relationships. Normally concerning themselves with the amount of time that should be left before starting a relationship with someone new, but I think such guidelines are for folks that don’t know themselves very well, and are meant to protect those who may make bad decisions, probably unwittingly for the wrong reasons.
“You’ll know when it’s right.” Is a cliché that fits annoyingly better here, for me, and I am sure more many, many others.
There definitely was a period where it would have absolutely been wrong to start a relationship with anyone. Proved at times like when I was propositioned at a wedding and was literally left speechless and unable to articulate any response whatsoever such were my feelings of inappropriateness.
There was probably a bit of shock too.
But over time, while I wasn’t necessarily dating or even letting it get much further than a thought in my head, the theoretical possibility had been heightening.
Yet at the same time so grew my ability to find happiness on my own, ridding myself of dependence on others for smiles and warmth.
Seeing relationships as a possible bonus, an enhancement, rather than something I desperately needed in order to live a fulfilled existence.
Yes, I was ready.
Born ready, some might say.