The photo that did it for me was of her kneeling over the memorial brick of her deceased husband Mike that had been placed at Angels Stadium, home of his favorite team. Carol’s smile as she pointed to Mike's brick was one of genuineness, resilience and ever-radiating optimism. In the narrative of her 44-year marriage that she's written for my blog, Carol described Mike as her best friend. And here she was smiling over his memorial brick as if she'd happened upon his living self by surprise. I thought: she's in the same place as I am with Carolyn.
Up until this moment, I'd believed there was a better chance of being struck by lightning twice or maybe four times before I'd meet someone like Carol in what was left of my lifetime. And yet here she was, smiling and kneeling (and clearly confident she'd be able to stand up straight on her own again). I couldn't let something potentially this special pass me by, no matter how much I thought it could never happen again.
Mike was killed in a head-on automobile collision on April 19th, 2017, two days after Carolyn had been admitted to the oncology floor of Swedish hospital in Seattle. By March of this year,Carol’s grieving and mine were at about the same time and place. Carol used her basic positivity to impel her to live on after Mike’s death. I used my dread of Carolyn coming back and kicking my butt if I let myself wallow in self-pity and the past to accomplish the same.
In a twist of fate, my blog found Carol’s FB timeline. She remembers reading the blog about my eVest and commenting on it. I acknowledged her comment as I try to do with everyone. At one point I asked her if she’d be willing to share her story with my readers, and she -somewhat tentatively - agreed. Something in the way she wrote it - expressing deep sentiment without sentimentality - spoke of a deep resilience and strength. We commented back and forth for a while, and then one day I asked if we could maybe PM. Somewhat tentatively again, Carol agreed. The PMs shortly became daily affairs. After a couple of weeks, I asked if we could meet sometime. Again, Carol agreed.
That’s the basic cliff notes version of our story. Cutting to the chase, Carol has become my new traveling companion. We’ve had a couple of road trips together, and in September plan our first European train trip, reprising my solo travel to France that began this blog. What goes around comes around, and once again, I’ll be moving, this time to sunny southern California. While several of my friends have expressed concern that we have moved too far too fast, we both acknowledge that and say, it’s about right for both our normal speeds. I’d fallen in love with Carolyn after about two months, and Carol had married Mike after dating for about three. Warp speed, as we call it, is our default velocity when it comes to the heart.
Along with all the compatibilities we have embraced and the differences we have acknowledged and also embraced, comes one aspect of our relationship that strikes me as vital and critical. We continue to embrace our departed spouses without jealousy or disregard. I love her stories about Mike and her - they were quite the Bohemian free spirits - and she loves the way I’ve written about Carolyn and myself. Strangely, perhaps, we believe we would have gotten along great as two couples who’d met and became close friends; yet we are quite happy to have met as widows instead. Both of us believe what we share now has been made possible by what we’d shared before, and then grew from that into the people we are today.
Widowhood has brought new companionship. Life is change. Life continues. We do go on.
So, readers, may I present Carol; Carol, the readers.