Such a pretty face. Prettiest I’ve ever known, or so I thought through the glasses.

And his body. Battered and broken from wipe-outs on wheels and waves; but oh, what a body. Scrumptious.

Logical progression, n’est pas? Yes, sex for the first time in uncountable time. Shocked and delighted to discover my body still works. Magic. Destiny.

So what do I do? Race to the high dive. Scamper up the ladder two rungs at a time, skip to the floppy end. My toes curl uncertain against the edge of a board that sways and bucks. Thrusts urge me off, off, off and away. I dive into the shimmering aqua blue.

Except, the deep end is almost empty. Water was an illusion. I crash towards concrete, manage to contort a moment before fracturing my skull. The glasses deceived me. It was my choice to keep them on.

If telling on myself helps anyone on the grief recovery path, I’m glad. Some random ideas:

• Consider (carefully) the age you were when you and s/he got together. Your idea of dating – meaning relationship, sex, all of it – is rooted in that time and your age then. I acted like a wackadoodle early 20-something because that was my point of reference. Unfortunately, fortunately, I’m older now.

• I made every possible mistake from my past in this inaugural attempt. My sister introduced the idea of a “practice boyfriend.” Stings because it fits.

• Biggest regret? Indulging romantic fantasies to justify a connection that was nothing more than physical with a man who was ashamed to be seen in public. The romantic in me is saddened to believe that. Still. But I acknowledge the gifts, romantic or not.

• So, biggest gift? Accumulated angst led to an astute therapist who makes me take account. The work is not easy and often uncomfortable. But I’m circling core issues. The process thrills, elates, and terrifies; the possibility of growth keeps me going.

My unasked-for advice about re-entering life after a death? Do it. But try – try, try, try – to hold onto yourself. And if you make a hot mess of it, as I did, wring any lessons you can. Also, forgive yourself. I need to say I have only gratitude for the him who kicked me further down my path, despite the bruises to my ribs and ego.

Still hoping for a happy ending, someday. If I can value myself, stand in my integrity, and opt to break a long-established cycle, it could happen. Here’s hoping.