When Marie died the devastation of his loss was overwhelming.
He’d been prepared, at least he thought he had been, but the moment of her passing left him bereft.
He felt a massive emptiness descend on him and he welcomed the thought of closing down into a safe and secure part of himself.
He withdrew from his community; he stayed home surrounded by her memories content to live in that way. He paid lip service to all the concerns that came his way, his children worried about him and offering suggestions, but nothing could budge him from that feeling that there was nothing left in life for him. Marie had been with him for so long, he knew their relationship was a lucky one; they’d lasted where so many of their friends had not.
Each night he found himself in conversation with her just as they had been in life. They discussed everything from the kids to the political situation. Marie was insistent he get out and find some joy in living. After all, she argued, he was the one living, and she didn’t want him fading into nothing when she knew he was a man of considerable substance.
He dismissed the whole notion of finding another woman, it would be impossible he thought, the poor woman would forever be compared to Marie, and he knew that would be unfair.
His youngest daughter invited him to dinner, and it was there he met Flo. She was the mother of his daughter’s best friend, and she too had been single a long time.
He found an interest in her eyes; there was something about them that drove him to discover more.
He went home that night feeling intrigued by the conversation and discovery of a woman he found himself attracted to.
What was this he asked and that night in his pre-bed conversation with Marie raised the problem as he saw it? If he pursued this new woman would it eventually lead him to abandon Marie?
Marie told him not to be silly, she would never go away, she was a part of his heart, she held a special place, and she would always be there.
Marie was excited for her husband, she encouraged him to see Flo another time and reassured him it was ok, he had a right to live, to experience a relationship once again, she was fine with him finding a reason to live.
He called Flo the next day, and they set a date for a picnic the following Sunday. Inside he felt that surge of excitement he thought had long deserted him. Parts of him he had closed down with Marie’s death were now knocking wanting to be awakened and given a new chance at life.
It was with a sense of teenage excitement that he packed the old picnic basket and headed out the door that Sunday unsure of where it might lead, but determined to enjoy the opportunity he had been given.