This year marks the tenth anniversary of my high school graduation. If at age 18 someone had asked me to describe my ideal life ten years down the road from then, I would have said that I envisioned myself married to my best friend and soulmate, with a career that made me happy, and a baby on the way. Just a little over two months ago, I had that life and more. I felt so incredibly blessed and grateful. Then, the rug was pulled from under me and EVERYTHING changed. I could have never imagined that the word “widow” or the phrase “single mom” would describe my life at 28.
The subject of eventually finding love and happiness again has come up a lot recently. I’ve had conversations with my parents, with my brothers (yes, they are “in-laws” but that’s just a technicality at this point), and Ralf’s best friend. They all agree that Ralf would want me to continue living life and to find a companion to love and care for me. I know they are right. I also know, however, that I’ll never be able to “move on”. To “move on” implies closing a chapter and beginning a new one. That is not something I would be able to, nor would I want to do. Ralf will never be just a chapter in my story. His loss will always be an open wound in my soul – not something that will heal or turn into a scar with the passage of time. Hopefully, I’ll learn to live and work around the open wound. When Ralf and I got married, I vowed to love and honor him not until the end of HIS life, not until death did us part. I vowed to love and honor him all the days of MY life. And that is exactly what I intend to do.
Now, that is not to say that I won’t move forward. I realize how young I am and how much life still lies ahead of me. I know my worth and that I have a lot to offer. It would be naive and unrealistic to say I’ll never love again and will spend the rest of my days a lonely widow. Ralf would hate to see me live that way. But any new man that comes into my life will have so many conditions to accept. He will have to be a man who understands that my situation is completely different from a divorce. That my husband did not opt out of our marriage, nor out of his role as father to our son. That Mason will always come first. That Ralf’s family is my family, and they will always be very much involved with my son and me. That Ralf’s name will be spoken on a daily basis because my son will always be encouraged to ask about his dad. That I will never drop the Garcia name because I think it’s important for me to have the same last name as my son. Most importantly, he will have to be a man who can live with the knowledge that while I love him dearly, I would not be with him if Ralf were still alive. It will take a very good hearted, emotionally secure, open minded man to fit that description. Can he possibly exist? If he does, then I believe Ralf will lead me to him when the time is right.
Meanwhile, I do my best to move forward. I take baby steps everyday. Some days, my steps may be so small that they are almost imperceptible. But just by opening up my eyes in the morning and getting out of bed, I know I am moving forward. And I know that Ralf is proud of me.