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Getting Back Out There...A first-hand account of what it’s like to love, lose, and love again

By Louise Haglind

The Background

A widow at the age of 55? How did that happen? I didn’t follow the predictable life pattern of growing up, getting married, having children, then grandchildren, retirement and living happily ever after. Had I ignored the signs of “something wrong” with my healthy, hard-working and loving husband of 33 years – the man who was never sick? Turns out he wasn’t completely healthy, and he died of a sudden heart attack - when no one was looking and no one was around to save him.

We lived together, worked together, loved together. And yet, here I was, with my shocked and devastated son. I had to call him at college and tell him that his father had died – the hardest phone call I have ever had to make. Friends and family comforted me, helped me through the funeral and memorial service. I wandered through the dress racks at Macy’s, looking for suitable attire for a funeral. What kind of dour outfit does one wear? Family came from out of town, and I did my best to welcome them without crying; choosing the site for the funeral, the flowers, the music. Nothing too sad for my rock-and-roll husband, he wouldn’t want that. “Stairway to Heaven” was one of his favorites, so into the service it went.

Our business had to be closed, along with multiple decisions made on how to carry on, and the years went by in this uncomfortable new life. I was no longer part of a “couple.”

A New Chapter

I was now a “single” with new single friends in singles’ groups. They were mostly older women who spoke about their hip replacements and various ailments and moaned about the lack of men available to date. This was before the Internet with its dating sites. I was on my own, with my new singles’ groups. There was the puppy-dog guy whom I met through a Craigslist sale; there was the stodgy old friend of a friend whom someone thought would be perfect for me. He wasn’t. Then one day I went for tea with an older lady friend who had the wisdom to tell me, “Louise, you will be all right. Your husband wouldn’t want you sitting around mourning. Use those singles’ groups to your advantage and make it work.”

And so I did. One beautiful, late May evening I went with one of my singles’ groups to a lovely restaurant with an outdoor bar in Long Beach. I was with a very large crowd – not just my group, but others plus a gathering of sailing folks, all enjoying the glorious California sunset. A sweet young man asked me if I needed a chair and got me one, then went and joined his sailing friends. I watched him off and on at a distance, and gradually my single ladies left and the crowd thinned out. But the man was still sitting with his friends, and I screwed up my courage and went over to talk to them. I mustered up the guts to make light of my situation and asked if they were talking about anything other than knee and hip replacements. They laughed and invited me to sit with them.

The young man took an interest in me and we ended up talking for a while. He said he owned a boat. “Oh no! I get seasick,” I told him. He then proceeded to tell me this sailing club was more of a “knife and fork” club and not to be afraid; very little sailing actually took place. He had a nice sense of humor. We talked. I could feel him looking at me while I talked with his friends. He told me he was semi-retired but loved to sail when he could on the weekends. The inside of my head was in another place, wondering what to do. Dating was such a long-ago memory, how does it work now? But he took the reins and said there was a sailing club meeting coming up the following week, why not come check it out? He said he probably wouldn’t be there since he had to attend to some business in Palm Springs but it might be enjoyable for me, the newly-single. And so I did.

Sailing On..

I went to the meeting, and there he was, near the entry door. He came for me. He took my hand and led me to a table where he introduced me to some of his friends. I wore a non-dour outfit that spoke of spring and renewal. And now, after our tenth anniversary, life goes on, happily ever after. My beloved first husband is never far from my mind. I think of him every day, even when I’m sailing.

Date Ideas from Dan and Louise

• Attend a singles’ group “Group Date.”

• Head to happy hour at the Crab Pot.

• Enjoy romantic dinner and a view at Parker’s Lighthouse.



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