I guess it was inevitable.
I’m a person who has always kept an extremely small “circle”, often just myself and one or two very close friends. For SO long, it was just Jacquelynn and I. Yes, dear friends and family as well, but here, locally and in constant contact, it was just us. Friends I make at work tend in general to remain “work friends”, and as helpful and supportive as they’ve been, the neighbors have always been Jacquelynn’s friends, more than mine. No judgment, no disrespect, but that closeness, that bond, has been absent in my life outside of Jacquelynn herself for a long time. Now, without her for four-and-a-half months and honestly without the shared connection for SO much longer, I’ve felt that vacuum in my heart like a great abyss, and the emptiness seemed apt to swallow me whole.
Of course, I never understood it that way until hindsight removed all choice. This is why living linear occasionally really sucks.
So, I was starved for connection. For closeness. Logically, I decided to look for it the same way I found it the last time, in 1999.
I was explicit in my “profile” that “connection” was what I sought. I was in no hurry whatsoever, given my recent experience, to rush into anything beyond that. I wanted to know and bond with someone. Preferably someone who understood the loss, and could see that developing new relationships didn’t mean replacing old ones.
After a short time on the site through which Jacquelynn and I had originally met, I began to doubt my plan. Fake profiles and phishing scams were as abundant as open, interesting people seemed rare. So, last ditch (patience has never been a strong suit), I tried another, more highly reputed (and costlier) site.
Two days later my world started spinning again. No names here, but she had also lost her spouse recently, after a long illness, and had of course been devastated. Shared experience and deep empathy dovetailed nicely with eclectic tastes and very similar senses of humor, and we were off to the races. Our second day of communicating was a six-hour whirlwind of nonstop texting and senses-shattering commonality that just got more and more profound as the days piled up.
Thank God that texting is no longer billed per-character!
After only a week, we felt as though we had known one another for years, and all the previous lip-service to the idea of taking time to truly know someone was out the window. I had stopped wearing my wedding ring and the necklace I keep her rings on with it, Sky’s photo had replaced our wedding pictures on my phone’s home screen, and we were trying to figure out how to meet amid all the pandemic craziness ruling life on Earth today.
Two weeks to the day after we first exchanged messages, I was in my car, dog in the back seat, crossing two states to meet the new Love Of My Life (words as yet unsaid, of course), and she was every bit as worked-up and eager as I was.
The instant our eyes met, the truth hit home for us both. We tried to work around it and pretend we just had to slow down and get there, and we spent an incredible evening together just holding hands and spilling our guts out of things we’ve never told another soul. But then we slept separately and neither of us got more than ten minutes of quality rest for the remainder of the weekend.
I had told her before I went that my expectations for the weekend were simple: to meet this incredible woman who had so quickly swept up both my head and my heart, and after that, everything was up in the air. I was SO anxious to see where it all would land. That sentence still stands as 100% true. I have met someone magnificent in every way; a woman beautiful inside and out and stronger than she will ever understand. I have shared and bonded and connected with another human being on a level I have never experienced before, not even with Jacquelynn. But my deeper hopes shattered upon impact.
I am unspeakably sad that our lives will remain separate, though I do not believe our connection will corrode so quickly. But as you all know, I am fast in my conviction that Life happens FOR us rather than to us. We both needed this to happen exactly as it did, and I am beyond grateful for every moment. My life is changed in the wake of these past sixteen days, as I believe hers is, too.
I put my wedding rings back on when I got changed for bed tonight. It feels good, it feels right to have them back where they belong. But I do miss that euphoric joy, that tingle of possibility.
The familiar abyss is back. Can’t say I missed it.