On June 14, 2013 I began chronicling the journey of Diane, our family and myself as Diane faced the onslaught of small cell lung cancer. That journey ended at 11:28 p.m. on July 18, 2014 as Diane quietly slipped through the door called death, being held by Jesus all the way. At that moment I was propelled into another journey, a journey of grief and sorrow, of aloneness, of healing and now of second love. It is the adventure of second love that I want to share with those of you who read this blog.
This journey, this adventure began a few days after a spiritual direction session with my director, Paula Mitchel. In that session I shared how I had come to accept my aloneness, but not only accept it, but relish the depth of relationship with Jesus that my time of aloneness was affording me. I acknowledged that I was not sure if I even wanted to get married again, and yet…and yet deep within there was that longing of having a life partner with whom the journey and adventure could be shared. This I also shared with Paula.
A few days later it all began very innocuously as I wanted to see the movie A Wrinkle in Time, but I did not want to see it alone so I very calmly called another member of a new ministry at Dungeness Valley Lutheran Church called Friendly Visitors. At the time we were both involved in this ministry. Nancy Mitchel said “Yes, she would love to see the movie,” but then said “No” to an invitation to go to dinner. That might have been the end, but it was only the beginning.
Those of you who know me, know that I tend to ask difficult questions and rather not be involved in shallow conversations, and the same is true of Nancy. As a consequence, beginning from our second date, the depth of our conversation has been the seedbed for “second love.” At a future time both Nancy and I would like to share with you some of the important, sometimes humorous, usually life-giving questions that we discussed in our journey into Second Love, but that will come later.
Nancy and I have much in common: a simple life style, a love of nature and the outdoors, the thrill of new adventures and journeys and a desire to grow as people to name a few, but both the magnetic force that drew us together and the glue that binds us together is our deep love for God in Jesus Christ, our hunger to grow in him as individuals and as a couple and our eagerness to serve him by serving others.
Neither one of us were specifically looking for a life partner, but we were both open to God’s leading, and so both Nancy and I consider our relationship of love to be a gift given to us by God, who earnestly desires us to both love and be loved. A “Second Love” is exactly that, it is the gift of being loved by another and it is the gift of being able to give love to another.
Second Love in the second half of life seems to me to be a more mature love than my first love with Diane. Diane and I both fought to be right; we fought to do “it” our own particular way and your way was wrong. Those things which seemed so big over forty years ago, now seem so trivial. Furthermore, love in the second half of life seems more urgent.
We know we do not have forty plus years to experience our love together and to grow in our love. And so, we have said to each other, “Why postpone our wedding? Why do we need more time?” Oh, we have made mistakes in this process. We should have given our sons (both Nancy’s and my sons are named Andrew and Peter) more time to get to know the one we are marrying, but we will work hard at developing and maintaining our family loves.
We have been told that we are acting like fourteen year olds! What a complement for seventy-plus-year olds! We have also been asked if we have had our first fight or even our first major disagreement. Those are honest questions, questions that I have often talked about in pre-marriage counseling. So Nancy and I have worked very hard at having a “heated” disagreement and the end result is laughter. The time will come when that might happen, and we look forward to that time when our communication practices bring us through such stormy waters.
The wedding vows which we will proclaim in a little over thirty-six hours from this writing say “In the presence of God and this community, I, Stan, take you, Nancy, to be my wife; to have and to hold from this day forward, in joy and in sorrow, in plenty and in want, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, as long as we both shall live. This is my solemn vow.”
In the second half of life each of the reverse, contrary phrases are very much a reality, and we realize this. Yet it is the very gift of God to each of us, that gift being our love for each other encircled in the love that God has for us, that sees all the realities of life now being lived and shared with one with whom we are deeply in love. That Second Love is PURE GIFT!