Odd partners: heartache and joy

This is the sixteenth day of the Love Blog Challenge
hosted by the lovely BelleBrita
Prompt for 2/22: Heartache

anna-nesterova-787439-unsplash rainOne particularly hard breakup happened while I was in college. The Chanute AFB airman I loved didn’t come back after leave. Poor form, but probably the best for all of us. There were a couple others, although technically not breakups because it was just me accepting the truth: He’s just not that into me

But in the True Heartache Department, I have only one story: My first husband, my daughter’s father, died almost 30 years ago. I was 38; she was 12.

I wrote these words several years ago and I’d like to share them again…

When I met and married Bill, I was 22 years very young. He was 40 and solid as a rock. And those next 15 years we spent together changed me. I don’t mean change like I got married, had a baby, ran a business, worked, got older. I mean I grew up with him – and because of him. From the day I knew that we were really together, I started to learn what it meant to be a grown-up. I watched how he handled disappointment and success with grace, how he lead and managed without bossing, how he raised children with deep and abiding love. I understood what it meant to hold your tongue, to give sacrificially and not to expect the world to notice. With Bill, I became almost all of the person I am today. And that’s why it’s hard.

People I meet now, those with whom I form even the deepest friendships, will never know him. They won’t see, save from my occasional tears, what he meant to me and what we meant to each other and why. And I can’t explain it with earthly words. I must resist the urge to take my new friends by the shoulders, square up with them face to face, and use nothing but sheer will to somehow convince them that they really don’t know, they don’t understand – but they need to. They need to know that so much of what they see in me is in large measure because a truly remarkable man picked me.

Out of all the women who chased after him, he picked me. Me.

When Bill died, the heartache was overwhelming. The loss of love, support, intimacy, and partnership was crippling. Grief came in waves taller and stronger than anything I could endure and remain standing. Those feelings have softened and diminished with time. But they have never completely disappeared.

One of the surprising realities about heartache, though, and loss and grieving is that each of those emotions can co-exist with great joy.

Not every widow desires newfound love, but I was described not as single but as unmarried. My friends all knew that, although I could probably do fine on my own, I longed to be married again.

And almost 20 years ago, I met Tim. He saw the heartache. He recognized the great loss I felt. He experienced with me unexpected moments of grief.

But he knew, and he knows, that the heartbreaks of the past do not outweigh the love of here and now. They simply mingle in our hearts. The strange bedfellows of heartache and joy create a life rich with memories and experiences…and hope for the future.


Photo by Anna Nesterova on Unsplash


  1. Nancy, I love how you are willing to share your deep thoughts and insights about your experiences. Grief is tricky to write about. You nailed the complexity of moving on yet living with sadness and joy mixed together. Very encouraging.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. What beautiful love for both of your husbands.

    My dad just started dating again, three years after my mom died. It’s a blessing to me, and to my dad, that he met a widow. She understands the bittersweet joy of living without a spouse. They can talk to each other about their late spouses, without any weirdness or jealousy. I appreciate that she’s made a genuine effort to let my brothers and me know that she’s not trying to replace our mom or have my dad forget my mom.


    1. And I’m especially fortunate to have found a man who understands and supports me and my family as we go and have gone through so much loss. He’s taken on a difficult position but does it with such grace and love… xoxox


  3. Although I have never experienced heartache quite like the loss of a spouse, God is continually showing me that this side of eternity joy and sorrow will always co-exist. This is such a beautiful post about how you have grieved the loss and always cherish the memories of your first husband, yet still opened yourself up to finding love again.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s