"I've met someone," I say, smiling slightly, mostly looking down at the table.
In my peripheral, I see her sit up straight and her body get tight with excitement.
"Really?" she asks trying to control the excitement.
I nod, take a deep breath, and look up.
Who is he? What does he do? How did we meet?
I try to answer each question before the next question comes. I watch her face light with joy. Her eyes are bright. Her smile is big.
"Do you think he is the one?"
My eyes drop back to the table. I am caught off guard by the question, but more so by my answer.
"I think I buried one husband. I don't know if I can bury another one."
She is quiet. I wipe the annoying tear from my cheek and bite at my lip.
"I know you tell me I'm one of the bravest people you've ever known, and I know so many of you think I really would have made a helluva Marine. I don't know if I can do this."
My chin quivers. The table blurs, and I wipe at another stupid tear.
I am thankful she does not try to tell me not everyone dies because it doesn't matter. Some people do.
My husband did.
And people who like to remind me he wouldn't be here anyway don't understand. It is very different watching your husband walk out the door because he is starting a new life and walking out of a sanctuary and leaving him lying in a casket because he's dead.
I've done both.
And I am not sure I have it in me to risk that again.
"Maybe more time will help," she says softly, and I feel her watching me, and I know she wishes she could help in some way, say something. I wish she could, too.
I nod and wipe more tears.
"Does he make you happy?" Her tone is different, and I know she is trying to find me in this territory neither of us have ever traversed.
"He doesn't make me UNhappy."
She is quiet, watching me.
"I don't know how I feel anymore. I don't know how to identify emotions. I don't know..." I sigh deeply. "That isn't true. I do know how I feel. I feel frustrated. I feel...broken, and I wonder if it will ever really go away.
"You know, Rob had heart problems from the time I met him. I used to lie awake with my head on his chest listening to his heart beat when it was arrhythmic because I was afraid if I went to sleep he would be gone when I woke up. I can't do that again." My voice cracks.
I shrug. "It's hard to be excited about someone new in your life when you are afraid they are going to die."
"I can't imagine what that is like, Jer," her voice is low, filled with compassion.
I finally look up at her. Her eyebrows are furrowed, and there are tiny lines around her eyes.
"I know," I say. "Prayer, faith, and time."
She nods, but we both know...
The same time that can be my friend...can be my enemy.
How much time will it take before that truth no longer scares me?