Sunday, August 12, 2012

Dan and Abel Go Camping

This weekend was a first.  Abel and I went camping together for the first time.  The weekend included many of the same components of camping trips that he might have taken in the past.  There was good food and drinks, long conversations, and hiking.  Only this camping trip was also very different than one's he has likely gone on before.  This was Camp Widow.

This was my third Camp Widow, as I have been a "member" of the widowed community for three years now.  This year I assisted again at the reception desk, had some focused sharing with two other LGBT widowed campers and took a group of alumni on an afternoon of food, drinks and hiking at the beautiful Torrey Pines.  Funny, someone at the reception desk said to me, "Dan, you have been here all four years, right?"  I said no, I hadn't, then felt her disappointment when I reminded her that I didn't qualify four years ago.  Damn, had he died a few months earlier.

Okay, my morbid sense of humor.  But it is exactly what Mike would have thought and said.

Anyway, this year was significantly different for me.  The last two years I attended on my own.  This year, not.  I met Abel one month after last year's camp.  Yes, in just a little over a month we will be celebrating our first year together.  And it has been a wonderfully rewarding year.

I was very pleased that Abel chose to attend part of the weekend with me at camp.  I felt it was important for him to participate in this part of my life.  Some might have expected me to say that this, Camp Widow, or being widowed, was something in my past, but let me tell you, it's not.  These last three years of being widowed have been the most challenging years of my life thus far, and I must also say, have been extremely rewarding.  I have grown and changed so much over these years.  I have been at my worst, had lost faith and hope, and have emerged a changed person.  The person that Abel met and fell in love with is a different person that Michael met and fell in love with many years ago.

During my journey I have had the constant companionship of so many other wounded widows and widowers.  We have held each other up and have watched each other take those baby steps toward a sense of healing.  We can now look at each other now with tears of joy in our eyes.  I have also met some lovely new partners and spouses of these widowed friends.  Each of these individuals have contributed to my being willing and able to trust falling in love again.

Now let me be honest here.  This past year has certainly not been an easy one for Abel and I.  We each have our individual scars that need healing, and we each have worked to understand each other's journey.  This weekend Abel got to take a first hand peek into mine.  I want to thank each fellow camper that greeted Abel with such sweet care and acceptance.  I want to thank each person that shared a bit of their journey with him.  I want to thank Michele for such a beautiful workshop about taking a chance on love.  Her words had both of us walking away with such emotion!

Here is where I am today.  I love my husband Michael.  Yes, I still actively love him.  I love Abel.  Yes, I have two loves.  Yet for me, this is the difference.  One is present, one is not.  What I had with Michael was wonderful, challenging, and and not without problems.  It was real.  What I have with Abel is wonderful, challenging and well, just as real. 

Each day I choose to keep moving forward.  Each day I appreciate having had Michael in my life.  Each day I appreciate the new man that lies next to me.

I have found joy.  Having hope in a future that is full of love allowed me to find that joy. 

Abel brings me joy.  My children bring me joy.  My grandchild brings me joy.  Each of you bring me joy. 

Looking forward to going camping again in the near future.

1 comment:

  1. Love, love, love you, this post, the joy in your life, the promise you are willingly opening your heart to, and the fact that Abel courageously went on this unique camping trip with you. How very far we have all come together!

    HUGE hug!