Match Dot Com

I had a quiet four and a half hour driving trip back from the family cottage yesterday. Four and a half long hours to think about where my life is and where it’s going. As someone who’s been known to overthink things, that’s way too much time on my hands. But it was a lovely trip and it turns out that I’ve come to the conclusion that my life is in a good place.

Of course, when writing the story of my life, I’m not at all where I expected to be at this point. I expected to be a married woman anticipating retirement in a few years so I could spend all my time with my husband, traveling, hanging out, enjoying life. Instead, I’m a single woman who was forced to rearrange those plans into something that would keep me moving forward. I needed to rewrite my life story and populate it with new plans, new goals and ideas that would help me find some reason to look forward to those golden years alone. The story keeps shifting, but I’ve discovered lots and lots of reasons to get out of bed in the morning, and that’s progress from where I was about a year ago in this life journey.

So why do I get out of bed? What keeps me motivated? So many things! Enjoying time spent with my family and friends, curiosity about where my writing will take me, looking forward to beach time and traveling to new places. Continuing to explore my family’s genealogy – will I ever discover more details about my grandpa’s first wife or why he moved the family to Detroit? There’s always another book I want to read, some ideas about life an author will trigger. And will there be any more Avengers movies? I even realized how much I enjoy my job and how lucky I am to get paid to do what I love most.

I’m in near-perfect health, financially stable, love my home, can come and go anywhere, and any time, I please. I have goals now, lots of them, and I’m reasonably optimistic about what’s ahead in the next decade or two of my life. So, bottom line, despite having the rug ripped out from underneath me when Rick died, I seem to be landing on my feet.

But there’s this one thing… this nagging piece that’s missing from my story: having someone to share my life with me. I haven’t missed it too much in the nearly two years since Rick died. I’ve really only missed him. I missed everything about our relationship – the mutual love and caring, the comfortableness, the sharing, the dances, the backrubs, the kisses and hugs (and – wow! – could that guy hug!). I missed sharing my life with  someone who wanted to spend as much time with me as I did with him. In the nearly two years since Rick died, I didn’t miss “a man.” What I missed was Rick and all the richness he provided in my already very full life.

I’ve still got the full life. That part’s all set. I know I’ll never stop missing him, but the sadness no longer consumes me like it once did, and I’ve got my coping techniques to try to get through the bad times. As time goes on, however, as I see other widows discovering their Chapter Two’s, I’ve begun to wonder if I’ll ever experience one myself. Can I even imagine sharing my life with someone again? Is it even a possibility?

So… curiosity got the best of me, and I accepted the challenge. I took the plunge. I joined And, wow, does that make you define who you are and what you want! Writing a profile was difficult – and I’m a writer. But how do I know what’s important to say about me? My status? (widow) My profession? (technical writer) My likes? (books, music, movies, trivia, traveling) My perfect vacation? (a beach). Do I want kids? (ha ha ha ha) Do I like to travel? (yup) Dine out? (all the time) Social drinker? (cabernet at happy hour) Smoker? (NO!) What’s my religious status? (none) Political leanings? (hard left) and…. blah blah blah… but do all these answers really explain who I am? What I value in life? How I think about life and love and where I’ve been and where I’m going?

And what do I want in a man? Who knows? Because I sure don’t. Do I want someone just like Rick? Or completely the opposite, since there will never be another Rick, after all? Do I want someone who shares all my interests? Or someone who will bring something new to my life? Do I want someone totally compatible? Or do opposites attract?

Do I even KNOW what I want?

Turns out, I don’t. Turns out, I want Rick back. I don’t want to date and discover and weed through potential con artists and manipulators in an attempt to find a good, decent guy to share my life with. I don’t want to go on fact-finding missions to try to find the perfect match. I just want life to be simple again. I found the guy I wanted to spend the rest of my days with, and I just can’t picture doing that again.

Turns out, of course, that’s my tough luck, because he’s gone and he’s never coming back. And this is where life has taken me. So, like it or not, if I want someone to share the next few years with, I guess it’s time to become Dora the Explorer of the dating world.

So, while on vacation, I finally finished creating my profile (which I’ll probably rewrite numerous times), I picked out the most flattering photos I could find (not many), and practiced taking new selfies (I’m getting better at it!). Now I’m wading through the suggested potential matches (ditching the drug addicts and angry-sounding guys). I’m kind of flattered and enjoying getting “likes” and emails from men and reading their profiles. But, bottom line, I’m still having a really tough time trying to picture how this story will turn out. I guess life is an adventure, whether I want it to be or not.

In the meantime, I have plenty to keep me occupied while I’m going on these explorations (er, dates). I have a good life, a really, really good and fulfilling life – the conclusion I came to on my long car trip yesterday. Maybe I’ll just have to change my attitude about this one aspect – the missing piece that I know from experience can add a lot of enjoyment to whatever lies ahead. So, I’ll put on my optimist’s hat and plunge back into the dating world. I’ll see where the next chapter of my life takes me.

Who knows? Maybe it will be fun. Look how it turned out the last time.

About the author

Katherine Billings Palmer is a technical writer, poet, and essayist from Garden City, Michigan. She’s won several academic writing awards, including first place in the University of Michigan Dearborn Critical Essay Contest for her work about poet John Donne: “‘The Sun Rising’: A Lover’s Boast.”

In 2017, Katherine’s husband, Rick, died of complications from small cell lung cancer. She wrote a series of poems and essays about her struggles to cope with her grief. I Wanted to Grow Old With You is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle editions.

Her latest book, A Widow’s Words: Grief, Reflection, Prose, and Poetry – The First Year was published in January 2019 and is also available on

Katherine is a guest blogger for the Hope for Widows Foundation and writes about her grief journey at


  1. You will have some ok dates, some yuck ones and then you’ll have one like I think I’ll have another one with that guy. You know it worked before. This time listen to you gut your inner voice. I did. Had a lot of dates, some over protective friends who were always there as my wing man and they never left my wing open while I was out. Then I met this guy Bill. And you know the rest of that story. Sending love and hugs

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