Remembering the Past and Building a Future

Expecting the chaotic busyness of a big-city airport, I’d asked Marty to meet me at baggage claim in Omaha’s Eppley Airfield. Still, I should’ve known that the landing strip for this midsized Midwestern city would be the quietly humming place it turned out to be.

With my heart beating out of my chest, I texted Marty furiously from the second I rolled off the plane. “Did you just get on the elevator?” he texted back. “I think I see you! Can you see me?!”

The wheelchair attendant, my dog Adele, and I arrived at baggage claim carrousel number three to wait for my suitcase to wander down the conveyor belt. Pivoting, I tried to find the now-familiar face of the man I’d been FaceTiming with every night for the last two months on the mezzanine above me, but I didn’t recognize anyone. I’d searched the gently flowing crowd of travelers walking the concourse for the hundredth time when I spotted him.

Smaller and a bit shorter than I’d pictured, Marty, walked toward me as quickly as his stiff leg and cane could carry him. I immediately jumped up and dove into his arms for a long, warm hug. He smelled like heaven, and his body fit perfectly against mine—something I marveled at for weeks to come.

Sharing a passionate kiss as soon as we got in his car, I Interrupted my tour guide’s impromptu look at some of Omaha’s beautiful old neighborhoods with a few more. We managed to make it to the living room sofa in Marty’s circa 1970s apartment before we started necking like the pair of teenagers we weren’t.

We talked about Michael and me and our lives together that first afternoon. We laughed and cried and generally had a great time telling each other the stories that made up our lives.

Marty gave me this gift from the beginning. I say gift because some of the guys I’d run into since my husband died weren’t exactly comfortable with my talking about him. One even told me emphatically that I had to “let him go.”

According to grief experts, it’s vital to reminisce about those we’ve lost and make them a part of our new life. They even came up with a name for it. It’s called the “Braided Path” response. In plain English, this means that both people in the new relationship make the person who has died an active member of their lives together, bringing them up regularly.

It’s hard to describe how important talking about Michael and our lives together has been to me when it comes to healing while trying to build a new life. I’m well aware that I have Marty and his sweet, generous nature to thank for this privilege, and I know that whatever happens between us, it’s one of the reasons we have the possibility of a solid future together.

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