Love and pandemic are not two words that naturally go together. One gives you butterflies, the other makes you want to cry, but in my crazy world, they go together like rosé and Bravo.
Like most singles at the beginning of 2020, I was hopeful that this would be my year and I’d find “the one”. Turns out 2020 had plans for me and it included a wonderful man named Steven. Then that little thing called COVID came along and turned the world into a raging dumpster fire. Everything seemed grim and it was a year most would like to forget, but to me, it gave me what I’ve been waiting on. To quote Rihanna, I found love in a hopeless place.
But before this journey begins, another had to end.
Not many love stories begin with death, but mine does. Although it may seem discourteous to include my first husband in the story of how I fell in love for the second time, it’s necessary because I could not have one without the other.
In January of 2016, I lost my husband, Brandon, to brain cancer. I was a widow at 32. During his final hours, his nurse said four words that would forever stick with me, there is no hope. 12 hours later, as I laid next to my husband, surrounded by friends and family, he took his last breath.
At the beginning of my widowhood, I swore I would never love again. I could not fathom sharing that level of intimacy one has after spending half their life with someone else.
Two years later, I started dating. From 2018-2019 I did all the single girl things and dated two men, exclusively, during this time, neither worth mentioning.
Needless to say, I was looking forward to 2020.
On February 13th, I matched with a cute guy named Steven. For the next few days, we had fun, consistent banter until we could meet up that weekend. Still, expectations were low because I’d had some real doozies go down on that first date.
Thankfully, it went well. He was actually 5’10 (in the dating world 5’10 usually means 5’9 or under) and our conversation was just as fun and fluid as it was in our Bumble chat. We immediately decided to proceed to date number two.
Three weeks later Covid hit. At this point we had already established that we were “in a relationship” and it was going well but we had to make decisions early on about how we would proceed in this worldwide pandemic. Would we put things on hold for a bit and see if life got less scary or would we decide to quarantine together and let this good thing grow?
We agreed to the latter and let our relationship grow. Grow indeed it did. Three months in we exchanged those three words that every woman wants to hear, “I love you.” Love found a way despite the cluster that was happening around us.
As a widow, it hasn’t been easy to let love take its course. It has been a struggle to let someone in, while still loving someone else because my feelings for my husband will never go away. The loss and pain of what I went through can make things challenging when things aren’t perfect. It’s hard to stay present and not check out when things get tough because I’d rather not add to my pain. It’s hard on both of us but this is what grief does to you.
Even through the hardships and grief, love wins. I can say with a full, black heart that I have found love for a second time. In Steven, I have found someone that I want to spend the rest of my life with. I love him so much and so differently than how I did with Brandon. I’m more grown-up and a completely different person who I was, even at 32, when I became a widow. I have grown more patient, vulnerable, and affectionate. I know who I am, what I want, and even through the bad days, I want all my days to be with Steven. It’s an adventure with him and we’re always pushing the other out of their comfort zones. I love harder and never take our days for granted because I know all too well how easily it can be taken away. Neither relationship is better than the other, they’re just different and my black heart has space for both.
I’m thankful every day for Brandon, he prepared me for Steven. And I’m thankful for 2020 because it brought us together.