Second Chances

September 11, 2012

How timely: it’s my 4th anniversary this week and I have been given the big second chance….

Four years ago, Bill and I were married outdoors at our new home on Martha’s Vineyard. The skies cleared from the deluge of rain that poured from the heart of Hurricane Hannah just long enough for us to say our vows and file into the big tent in our backyard. Not more than one hour post ceremony the rains returned, hammering against the tent as Johnny Hoy and the Bluefish jazzed us around the dance floor in a whirlwind of mud and Chardonnay. We were over the top happy and our good-natured guests tossed their shoes to the side and slid around with us in our mud fest of love.

No one dared complain. Friends and family had had their fill of shock and misery just three years prior when we lost a man who was knitted into this community of mud dancers-–he was my husband of 21 years, my boys’ dad, my darling in-laws’ son, my nephews’ uncle, a brother and brother-in-law, and a best friend. He meant something to all in attendance. We weren’t totally done with our mourning, we never would be, but that day we were all ready to celebrate.  Bill had captured us all with his smile, his laugh, his sincerity, his love, his steadiness and his generosity.  And now we were celebrating a new beginning with a man who was welcomed in with a communal hug and had fast become a friend to all. Talk about a second chance!

So maybe I was lucky! My eldest sister always said I was, but I never could see it. I just say “Yes” a lot and try to move obstacles away when they block my path–but some things just can’t be avoided.

Widowhood is just plain bad luck. It’s a showstopper. Curtain down, game over. Dreams cauterized. Gone, dead, over–that’s the deal. You can’t lose someone you love and rationalize it. When the shock subsides, memories flood in and fill the gaps and spaces, but the loss of a partner feels like an impossible pit out of which you can’t climb.  Or so you think.

My friend Jackie (always the wise one) reassured me, “even though you feel the world has stopped, the river is still flowing. You decide when you are ready to jump in cuz it’s never gonna stop. You decide.”

And you see it, you see that river flowing but you are in the dark pit and you can’t get a foothold out–and then miraculously–there’s a light that appears, and if you are ready, you move toward it. And that’s the second chance. That’s the magic of life.

I do know that losing a husband at the age of 47 presents a different scenario from one such as my mom’s loss of her husband at age 77. Second chances feel more possible at a younger age, if in fact one is looking to find another partner.

I have learned a great deal over these past few years. I would have liked to have been able to embrace some of these beliefs from the get-go but I wasn’t ready. Now I get it. I hope this helps those who have lost a partner and are finding their way toward the light.

  1. Time heals.
  2. You have to have faith that things will get better.
  3. Say “Yes,” a lot.
  4. Love yourself and it could become contagious.
  5. Become disciplined about your tears-–once they have exhausted you-–take charge of them and give them their private space and time.
  6. Fresh air is the best medicine to clear your head.
  7. Give, volunteer, work at something that helps someone else. (I became a teacher.)
  8. Buy yourself gifts–don’t wait for someone else to get them for you.
  9. Create a morning routine: wake up and walk or run with a friend, first thing (before work).
  10. Find a creative outlet: paint, write, knit, cook.

And most important of all, THANK YOUR FRIENDS. My friends got me through the hardest and darkest of times. Our journey together brought them closer to me and closer to each other.


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7 Responses to Second Chances

  1. Lisa on September 11, 2012 at 2:42 pm

    I LOVE this piece! And happy anniversary Felice.

  2. Libby on September 12, 2012 at 12:00 am

    Happy anniversary Felice ! I know you enjoyed your day. Sending love. It was beautiful, as always, out here at the Bu. and we are loving our fresh air!
    Love, libby

  3. Claudia on September 12, 2012 at 12:07 am

    Beautiful. Wonderful to have a community to support and celebrate.

  4. Jackie on September 12, 2012 at 5:59 am


    I love your second chance reminiscences — memories of your wedding were so vivid and joyous! Bill is one of a kind -emphasis on kindness and one of the best guys! We love him and your family. And I love remembering Alan-your first love and our first friend, political guide and teacher of all skills needed on the water and snow!! Dean is doing push ups right now-the correct way!

    XXX Jackie

  5. Susan on September 14, 2012 at 10:02 am

    So here’s my first blog response ever…Wow, beautiful, Felice. We love you, and your courage and the way you just embrace Life has been,and is, an example to all of us. So, this is a reminder to all of us, facing loss of a loved one, a job, a waistline, a 401k, that Life has a wide margin. There’s this wonderful Cherokee tale about a grandfather who explains to his grandson that within every person are two wolves fighting, one wolf of anger, resentment and fear; the other of compassion, hope and love. The grandson asks, Which wolf wins?” The grandfather answers, “the one you feed.” Keep is coming, Felice.

  6. emily horowitz on September 14, 2012 at 10:09 am

    You are a great role model that EVERY DAY is a another chance to make dreams come true despite disabling occurances both external and internal.

  7. Marian on September 14, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Felice, Thank you for such an insightful piece and congratulations! Your words are powerful and resonated with me — I lost my husband 12 years ago when I had just turned 44.

    I’m living my second chance at love now with a wonderful man. Life is good.

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