As a widow for nearly four years, I was hoping to answer the question “Can I find love again?” with a yes.
I had been happily married for 45 years when my husband died from heart failure and complications of multiple sclerosis. I didn’t expect that he would die at 67 — that I’d become a widow at that same age. We had planned to retire in January 2019 and spend more time with our grandchildren and with our daughter and son-in-law.
Instead, Roger’s condition steadily worsened. He died, leaving me alone for the first time in my life. I couldn’t believe that he was gone.
I knew I had to create a new life for myself, but my grief was overwhelming and unpredictable. I watched the FX miniseries “Fosse/Verdon,” about the relationship between choreographer-director Bob Fosse and actor-dancer Gwen Verdon, and sobbed at the end when Fosse died. At the same time, I was grateful for the calls and letters from friends and family and I had hope that my life would get better.
I was lonely much of the time. After about a year, I joined an online community called Stitch in the hope that I would make new friends and connect with other people who had lost a partner. In 2020, when most of us were feeling isolated and lonely because of the COVID-19 pandemic, I set up an online group for anyone going through loss. The group was helpful for those participants who connected to others experiencing grief. It also gave me a sense of purpose.
By 2021, I was working as an online therapist for an international therapy website and I also provided caregiving support two days a week for a woman in my neighborhood. My life was pretty full and going rather well. But I knew I wanted to meet someone and be in another romantic relationship. I missed companionship and the experience of sharing my life with a man who also wanted the same things that I wanted.
I created two profiles on dating sites. It was a frustrating experience, however, and there was a mismatch between men who “liked” me and men whom I “liked.” But no real dates were ever set up.
Because I was a member of Stitch, I went online and noticed that there were a couple of in-person events taking place a short distance from where I lived. One was a walk in Culver City, and the other was a dinner at a restaurant in Marina del Rey. I signed up for both events and attended the dinner first on a Sunday night in late November 2022.
I arrived early, ordered a drink and waited for other guests to arrive. As I sat at the bar, two men came in, and I recognized Brian from his online profile and said hello. He had a calm and inviting tone to his voice, and I noticed his soft, blue eyes and his infectious laughter.
Brian told me that I was the first person he considered contacting when he joined Stitch. It was easier to start a conversation with him than I thought it would be. We talked during the entire dinner, mostly about the music we liked and growing up in Los Angeles. We had both visited Jungleland in Thousand Oaks as children and we also rode the carousel on land that’s now the Beverly Center.
After dinner, we walked to the parking lot where he waited, expecting me to ask the valet for my car. When I told him that I didn’t own a car and had arrived by Lyft, he offered to drive me home but only if I felt comfortable. He lived close to Culver City, so it was not that far from my place in Mar Vista. I immediately felt safe and at ease with him as he drove me home.
Not too long after the dinner, I attended a gathering that Brian organized through Stitch. I sat next to him, and afterward, I walked out with Brian, who offered to drive me home again.
We went on four dates after the in-person events. We also had a memorable New Year’s Eve dinner of tacos and roasted Brussels sprouts at a Santa Monica restaurant, and I spent a couple of hours that evening watching the film “Garden State” with him. Before Brian left my apartment, we kissed, and that led me to call him at home a couple of days later. “Do you want to be in an exclusive relationship with me?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. It turns out he had thought I was calling to say that I didn’t want to see him again. That week, we decided to become an exclusive couple.
We were eager to see how our relationship would progress. Not only do we have a lot of common interests (dining alfresco at restaurants with plant-based options and practicing yoga together) but we also had similar temperaments. We laugh easily and frequently, and I couldn’t believe how well-matched we are as a couple. Everything’s effortless, and no matter what we do, we enjoy being together.
We both love the Beatles, dancing and singing. We even sang “I Need You,” which was written by George Harrison, at an open mic recently — something I would never have thought I would do, but it has been such fun with Brian.
We’ve been in a relationship now for nine months. We are committed as a romantic couple and have been on a wonderful adventure. We plan to continue it for as long as possible. Was it possible to find love again? The answer for me is a resounding yes!
The author is a licensed marriage and family therapist and a certified laughter yoga leader and loves performing duets with Brian at open mics. She lives in Mar Vista. She is on Instagram: @kimselbert
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This story originally appeared on LATimes