Felice Shapiro is a writer, entrepreneur, and publisher as well as the founder of Better After 50, a weekly online magazine. In addition to being a teacher and avid runner, hiker, and yogi, she is an AARP contributor.
After my husband died, I remembered hearing that, according to the Jewish religion, a widow was required to mourn for 30 days and then she could “get back out there.” And, what’s more, the brother–in-law was expected to marry his brother’s widow …Oh boy, that wasn’t gonna happen! With the Old Testament as a guide, I decided to try to go out several months after my loss, when I could bear to face the world.
And then I came to my senses. “Are you kidding? I have to date? I have to be judged, and maybe get rejected? I have to sit through an evening with some bore?” Are you familiar with the Kubler Ross 5 Stages of Grief ? Well, I added one of my own: I was deep into the pissed off stage!
And then, all my worries were for nought. No one was fixing me up with anyone. “Doesn’t anyone have any friends for me to date?” I polled the girlfriends. None, nada! Hey, I was 48 years old and a widow, and frankly everyone could not believe I was asking. My husband had died just six months before.
Yet one day I was on Fire Island with a few girlfriends and one of the women stepped up to the plate.”I want you to be happy. I have an idea of someone you may like.” I was taken aback. I’m sure I looked like a swollen-eyed widow but still I couldn’t help wondering why no one until then had offered to fix me up.
I was so excited! An adventure! My tummy was all butterflies just imagining sitting at dinner with a date.
I got a call from this man a week later. “Yes, of course, I would be happy to meet you. Oh, you want me to suggest a place? Okay, how about this quiet little restaurant in the next town over? Perfect!” We were set, and he sounded fine, no more, no less, just fine.
I changed my clothes three times, checked my hair, and headed out into the night with a sick feeling in my gut. Yes, this was so typical of me. I wasn’t ready to date, I really wasn’t, but I pretended I was just to give myself a push. And now I had to deliver. I had to show up on this date.