Almost a month ago I wrote about my friend Mel’s launch into the world of online dating. Well, it is early days yet but it is going really well.
I didn’t want to jinx it by talking about it too early – and in fact, it probably is too early to make any assumptions about the future – but both Mel and I are old enough (and cynical enough) to suss out a genuine guy from a player.
James is a lawyer. He does a lot of human rights work (which instantly appealed to me). His wife died ten years ago when they were both in their early thirties. She died from anaphylactic shock. Apparently she had developed an allergy to peanut oil and didn’t realise until she ate something cooked in it. By the time James got her to the hospital she was unconscious. She never woke up.
I am aware of people dying from anaphylactic shock and it is a horrible, awful thing. Can you imagine, however, not knowing you were allergic to the thing that is going to kill you? There is no possibility of salvation.
When I heard of James’ tragic loss I was initially worried. Mel has had a lot of tragedy in her life. I suppose the greatest thing she has had to deal with is that she is a rape survivor. On a daily basis she has to face a lot of demons. After her first date with James she spoke of his warmth, his sincerity, his good humour. But she also mentioned the demons lurking behind his eyes. The immense sorrow. She could tell after spending one evening with him that he had grown accustomed to loneliness and that in some ways he embraced the draw of it.
Maybe deep down I am a nasty person but I hoped that after the first date they wouldn’t see each other again. I guess I have seen too many people hoping their shared moments of tragedy would form a bond between them that was unbreakable and that, in turn, that bond would act as a barrier against further tragedy; only to see them sink further into the mire.
James didn’t date for ten years. He was enshrouded in grief. His wife was the love of his life. One morning he woke up and realised he was sick of the only voice in the house being his, so he tentatively began dating again.
He had a few unsuccessful encounters, which discouraged him briefly. But his sister saw Mel’s profile on the dating site and urged him to act. And they rest, as they say, is history…..
I see a difference in Mel. Her eyes sparkle, she holds her head high. There is sunlight everywhere she looks. I had almost forgotten the buoyant feeling the first burst of love can bring, the feeling that life is not as bad as you thought after all.
She says she is ready to be happy. At long last. She does not believe the tragic imprint of James’ loss nor of her own is indelible. She believes the mark of it will make them appreciate the good times they will have because they know those times can be fleeting.
Even if things turn sour she feels she can now walk through the day with her fear diminished. She has glimpsed little shoots of hope climbing up through the rocks, reaching, ever-reaching, for something to grasp and cling to. Little shoots which, if nurtured could grow into something extraordinary. Which, maybe one day, might transform themselves into an entire field of flowers.