Becky was pleased when her mum told her about her meeting with Michael. But sighed when she explained that nothing had changed, she still felt that it would be inappropriate to start a relationship with him so soon.
“Mum. You’re not starting anything. You already had a relationship. Sure, it was a little unconventional. But you had started it.”
Her mum wasn’t convinced.
“The family won’t see it that way.”
“Screw the family mum.”
Sarah stared at her daughter.
“Why is this so important to you Becky?”
She put her hand on her mother’s arm.
“Mum. I saw the look in your eyes when you left to go to the lakes with Michael. That was a special look. The look that you reserved for dad. I know that you won’t admit it, but I think that you have very strong feelings for Michael.”
She blushed and looked away.
“He told me that he loved me.”
“And what did you say?”
She shrugged. Becky continued.
“Tell me that you said something? And not ‘thank you’.”
Sarah shook her head.
“No, of course, I didn’t. He apologised immediately and I said that it was okay.”
Becky rolled her eyes.
“Oh, mum! ‘It’s okay?’ Really?”
“Well. What was I supposed to say?”
Becky stared at her.
“How you felt! That’s what you should have said!”
Sarah looked away.
“You don’t understand honey.”
Becky was growing frustrated.
“Damn right I don’t understand! You like this guy, maybe even love him. But you’re too damn proud, scared, or embarrassed to tell him how you feel.”
Sarah got up and walked to the window and stared out at the garden,
“I can’t admit it to myself, Becky. If I did, what would it say about me? So soon after my husband dies, I express my love for another man? People would think that I had been cheating on David.”
Becky joined her mother and put her arm around her.
“I say it again mum, screw people! You need to tell him how you feel. Even if you don’t think that you can be together yet. He needs to know.”
Sarah leaned against her daughter.
“Oh, I don’t know Becky. What would your grans think? What would his mother think? She would hate me.”
Becky hugged her mum.
“She wouldn’t hate you, mum. We’d talk to her. I’d explain what dad knew, and what he said.”
Another couple of months passed quietly. Sarah had started to feel a bit more normal, she’d been spending more time with her family, and she’d had a few more coffee ‘dates’ with Michael. She felt a little guilty after every meeting, she thought that she was leading him on, and wondered whether it would be easier to let him go.
But try as she might, she couldn’t get Michael out of her mind. And her daughter Becky wasn’t making things any easier for her. She never stopped pushing her.
“Mum. You need to be with him. You know you do. Stop being scared and go for it.”
She was so torn. She decided that she needed to talk to David. She grabbed her coat and headed out to the cemetery.
It was a cold, crisp morning, and as she tidied up around the plot, and cleaned the headstone, she talked to him, as if he was stood before her. She didn’t know what she expected, but she got it all out. How she felt about him, how she felt about Michael, her concerns over the family, everything.
When she walked away, with her bag of rubbish and dead leaves and grass in her hand she walked with a purpose, she had somehow resolved things in her mind. Her only doubt was whether she dared to see it through.
Back in the car she started the engine and stared out of the window. She checked her watch and did a quick calculation in her head. ‘Two hours with no traffic, I could be there for lunch.’ She put the car into gear and headed off.
The traffic was light, and she arrived just before lunch. As she pulled up outside of her mother-in-law’s house, she felt her pulse quicken. She looked at the house, ‘no turning back now.’ She got out and walked slowly up the path, her legs trembling
Mary and Tom were surprised and delighted to see her, and after the initial welcome and chit-chat they sat in the kitchen with a pot of tea and she began. She explained how she’d been since the funeral, and how she felt about David. Then, with a shaky voice, she began to explain her relationship with Michael, how it had started, and where she was when she got the call about David. She fought her emotions and fortunately managed to get through it all without breaking down.
“So, Mary, Tom. I suppose the reason for my trip today is to tell you, no ask you, how you’d feel if I was to start seeing Michael again?”
She stopped and took a breath and waited. She waited for them to explode. But all she got was silence. She glanced up at them both in turn. Mary had tears in her eyes. Sarah began to sniff, she was losing control when Mary slipped her hand into hers.
“Sarah. I’ll admit it has come as a surprise, but not a complete one if I’m honest.”
She glanced at her husband.
“Tom and I have talked about this in the past. When he had his accident, we knew that David would never recover. And we knew that you are still young. It wouldn’t be right, or fair, to expect you to sit and look after him for the rest of your life and ignore your needs. As a mum, I’m glad that you didn’t cheat on him, you didn’t go behind his back and that he knew all about this man. If you tell me that David knew about this and that he approved, then I believe you. That sounds just like my son.”
Sarah stared at her mother-in-law as the tears fell onto her cheeks.
“It is clear that you feel strongly about him, and I for one am not going to tell you that it’s wrong for you to see him. We both know how much you loved David.”
“I still do Mary.” She interrupted.
Mary squeezed her hand, “I know.”
She stayed for lunch and they chatted at length about David. Sarah felt as though a huge weight had been lifted from her shoulders when she walked out of the house. She turned and hugged them both, clinging onto Mary for a little longer.
“I know that he’s watching down on you Sarah, and he will continue to do so. He will make sure that everything works out for you.”
Sarah smiled and hugged Mary, “thank you, Mary.”
As she drove the two hours home her mind was on the next stage of this process. She had to face her own family. She called Becky on the way and told her where she’d been, and what she’d done. Becky was surprised and pleased and was only too happy to arrange for her siblings and their partners to meet them at Sarah’s later that evening. Her next call was to her mother. She was very supportive of her daughter and being a widow herself, understood her motivation.
“Sarah honey. You must do what you have to do. And the fact that David knew about him, that is a lot better than if you’d gone behind his back, or even just met him.”
She was pacing around nervously as she waited for her family to arrive. Fortunately, they arrived within minutes of each other and wondered what she had gathered them together. Although both Becky and Amy already knew, Becky had told her sister everything. As Sarah greeted them all Amy hugged her mum.
“I’m so happy for you mum.”
Sarah stared at her, “you know?”
Amy nodded and glanced at Becky who smiled and shrugged at her mum.
“Thank you, honey.”
When everyone had gathered, she stood before them, and her legs shook as she told them about her and Michael, from the beginning. They listened and as she looked around their faces, she was a little surprised. None of them looked shocked. When she was done there was a short silence.
It was her daughter-in-law Karen who spoke first.
“I’m so happy for you Sarah.”
The others followed quickly behind her.
“When do we meet him?” Asked Ian, Becky’s husband.
Sarah looked at the faces, all eyes were on her.
“Oh. It’s a bit soon for all that.”
She looked a little embarrassed.
“He doesn’t know anything about all of this.”
Becky, who knew all about her and David, stood and hugged her mum.
“Well isn’t it time that you told him, mum?”
The others agreed and she was despatched to her room to call Michael whilst the others sat and chatted.
She sat on the edge of her bed and her fingers shook as she scrolled through her contacts and selected him. She heard the ringtone, then a click and he answered.
She answered and told him what she had been doing all day. He listened, he said nothing until she had finished.
“Are you sure that it is what you want Sarah?”
“Yes. I’ve never been more sure about anything.”
“And you don’t think that it is too soon?”
“No. There is never a right time Michael. If you are okay with it of course.”
They chatted for a while, then she said that she had to return to the others. They arranged to meet for lunch the next day.
As she slipped into bed that night, she felt so different from how she had felt for the last three months. She was not ‘over David’, but she had resolved to re-start her life, and adjust to living as the ‘new Sarah’. And to live with the memory of her husband, and the prospect of new love and she felt that she owed it to them both to give it her full attention. Michael deserved that much at least.