A friend of mine recently asked me, “Do you ever have sex with Evan and imagine, just for a moment, that you’re having sex with Erik instead?”
Normal thing to wonder about a remarried widow, I suppose.
Actually, I love that she asked me this.
But the answer is NO.
Never have I imagined, in the heat of passion, that Evan was Erik.
I did, however, imagine that other men I dated were Erik.
Of course I wanted them to be Erik.
When you watch your 29-year-old husband slide down the kitchen counter and die, there is a certain amount of denial that comes along with the territory.
Like staring at the door. Waiting for the knob to turn.
Erik, you home?
Nope. Not home.
Or completely vacating your pregnant body because you cannot believe that you are that woman. That 29-year-old widow with two babies.
In fact, denial forced me to date three different dark-haired men, all named Erik.
They just kept popping up in my Match.com instant-messages.
But, come on, people, husbands are not handbags. You can’t trade one Coach purse in for another, just so you can call it by the same name.
“Sorry,” I’d say. “I have a rule of not going out with Eriks.”
It wasn’t right.
If I accidentally called them by the wrong name, how would they ever know?
But it is because of Erik, because of having him yanked away, almost seven years ago, that I have learned to love Evan even more.
That is as far as I go with two men in my bed.
I do not envision Erik under our red chenille blanket with us, or that Evan is Erik.
But, you know, I do hold Evan’s gaze in a way that I didn’t with Erik.
Why did I do that? What made me turn away?
I was afraid. Felt undeserving.
Why should anyone love me this much?
And now, I ponder this newly created life with Evan and our four children, and I realize that I am still afraid.
This time, though, what I fear is that I will miss out on these moments of bliss.
So I keep my eyes open and do my best not to look away.