After almost four years since my mother’s passing, my father has found love again and he remarried earlier over the summer. Kent and Laurie were high school sweethearts married for thirty-three years before death ended their relationship. Many people dream about finding that one person they will spend the rest of their life with, but not many consider they may have to find someone a second time.
I don’t know what it is like to lose someone you grew up with and expected to grow old with. I know my dad was angry with God for a long time for taking away his best friend, even before her death when she was sick. Remarriage is never the plan but whether by death or divorce God is still in charge of your marriage, even a second time.
When mom was on hospice, toward the beginning we had a serious conversation in which she asked a favor of me, “Make sure your dad knows it’s okay for him to marry after I’m gone; I want him to be happy again.” She thought she was saying this for my dad’s sake. Little did she know it was said for my benefit as well.
Unlike with divorce, I knew both my parents loved each other and did not want their marriage to end. So when my dad started dating shortly after her death it wasn’t like my dad was being unfaithful to my mom. He was faithful to the very end and it’s only natural he wanted to find something close to what he had. But I couldn’t help but wonder why my dad was dating women so different from my mom. Often, my mom would joke dad would look for someone completely opposite of her and get married right away, but I never thought she would be so close to the truth. I knew no matter who my dad ended up with they would not be a replacement for my mother nor should they be. People cannot be replaced and memories cannot be relived. My father is not the same man he was when he and my mom married right out of high school. How could he be? Life is always changing, same with people. All we can do is move on and accept the new.
I don’t want to seem critical of my dad’s dating a second time. For one, I’m struggling with dating the first time around, and second I don’t know what it is like to lose a spouse to death so who am I to say I know better. Everyone grieves differently and we don’t really know how we would respond until it happens to us. I do know however what it feels like to have your surviving parent create a new life with someone who is not your mom, and that is weird. It’s not an exact betrayal since it is not adultery or abandonment (marriage is till death do you part), but it can feel like a betrayal of the memory of a person. I think this is only natural. You don’t stop loving a person after they are gone, you just learn to love them differently.
Getting married a second time is not easy. My brother and I are older and already out of the house, so we will never be a blended family in the sense we would be if we were younger and still under my father’s roof. My dad found a wonderful woman who loves him and I am happy for him, but our family will never be the same again, and that’s okay. I love my dad and his new wife. This woman will never be my mother, but Lord willing she will be a grandmother for my children someday. Death is not the same as divorce, and remarriage is not wrong. Family does not have to be biological and love does not end in death. Love and loss in all their forms are just a part of life.