January 2008 in the heart of the winter, that is when he came into my life – the man I didn’t want. My heart frozen in time, hardened like the ice that cascaded and seemed to cover everything around me. If I am being honest, I wasn’t alive, I didn’t want, nor did I appreciate being alive at that time. Destruction had never been my thing – until it became my thing. How much could I hurt myself, so that I would just feel something? Looking back is hard, but it is also what saved me from me. My world felt much like what you would expect of being stuck in purgatory, or was I the one that died and this was my hell?
This man now standing before me and I with my widow heart say, “I am not looking for anything, I don’t want anything.” I had nothing to give. This man that I was very clearly saying my truth right away to, and yet he still spoke these words, “I want something, I want a girlfriend, I want you”. How could he know so quickly?
A smugness, I had never known until widowhood hardened my once soft and open heart, came over me in these days. I told him he couldn’t call me right away, that it would seem too eager. His hand touching my arm, recalling a meeting a couple weeks prior, in a completely different town close to an hour away. A chance encounter with a man I barely knew, just having been introduced by my first husbands mutual friend. I no longer believed in fate, but I couldn’t cheat my own mind by thinking – this is interesting. His lips on my lips and then I walked away. If I continued to walk away, no one could hurt me – ever again.
September 2006. My first husband left in September. How could he have left me here like that? I know he didn’t want to, he couldn’t have known and neither I – but how did this happen? I must have looked so vacant, frail stepping into the coroners office to get Johns death certificate. Somehow holding that paper, it outraged me. Why did I need this stupid piece of paper to certify that my husband was dead. Standing in front of the desk, I asked, “Have you ever seen this happen before? Do you know anyone else that has died from a bee sting?.” I am not sure what I was hoping for with this exchange or what I needed to hear him say, but when he told me “NO”, looking blankly into my eyes – it shattered me again.
I had done everything the way I was supposed to. Small town midwest girl meets local boy, they become best friends, she saved herself for this man, waited for the one, put herself through college, landed a good job, they marry, start building a life, making plans, are getting ready to dig the foundation for their new home and instead of breaking ground to create the dreams we worked so hard for – the ground was broken and my husband was now in a wooden box while his heart and organs were on a jet getting ready to save several others. I was left behind once again, by a man in my life that I loved.
Trusting my heart to another man was never going to happen again! I can’t believe people would actually say to me, “you are young, you will likely marry again” when the dirt hadn’t even settled and my mind wouldn’t give me rest. The nights now closed in on me, sleep, I never knew you could live with so little sleep.
Two weeks into January 2008, the man I didn’t want called. I said “you waited long enough”. He said, “you told me I couldn’t call you right away – want to go out tonight”? I couldn’t. I had created several online dating profiles and I had a date already scheduled. I hated this whole dating scene but for some reason profiling others seemed to pass the time – I kept waiting and wishing my husbands profile or someone who looked like him might just pop up…some of the crazy rationale that went through my maddened mind at that time.
We hung up after saying we would plan something soon. I’m not sure why, but I couldn’t seem to get this man off my mind. I kept pushing him aside. There was something intriguing there. I hadn’t felt like this, I kept pushing him aside. I go on my scheduled date that I was trying to be polite by not canceling, and I just couldn’t connect. I kept thinking about the man I didn’t want. Something came over me, maybe it was the knowing of how precious a minute was, the thought of wasting it on something that wasn’t right. I excused myself to the restroom and I called the man I didn’t want. I said ” hey, my plans are changing, still want to meet up”? He was out with friends, but would call me a little later.
So, I end the night early with my date and met up with two of my best friends. We go out and then I receive a text from the man I didn’t want. It is now after 11 and he is in bed. I say meet me and my friends at the Junction for some food. Never having had been forward in my life, this took me back to the time I had actually ran up to my first husbands truck window when he was leaving a party and said, “So, when are we going to go out”? The man I didn’t want, said how about another time and I think, rationally that was reasonable. Though there was nothing rationale in my life these days. Then he messages me, he is on his way. Some type of thrilling feeling came over me, what the heck was this? As he walked in my heart just did something. I felt the nervous, excitement, flutters. So handsome, kind, funny and he had some edge. We left and he came home with me. We talked all night and just talked. He made me laugh and this man I didn’t want started to become a man I knew I needed more with.
September of 2009, he took a month that is hard for me, and made it into a new beginning. I became his wife on one of the most beautiful days. In the middle of a garden this photo was captured of a butterfly landing right next to us.
I walked down the isle toward my future, taking with me my first husband and a piece of my first wedding gown clinging the flowers that budded above it. I was being married to this man by my childhood pastor and given away by my stepdad who is a constant reminder of how men can show up and stay in your lives. I can hardly believe this man I didn’t want broke down walls in my heart I never knew would be opened, he holds me up when I feel broken again, he forgives me for my crazy antics and he loves me through all of the ups and downs of our life. He makes me flipping mad at times, but I know I also return the sentiment. He reminds me that not everything in life is perfect, but being together and appreciating the times we share and the life we are living and figuring out, means everything.
It is not easy, marriage number one, but then marrying a widow, that is in my opinion a whole new level of navigation. My once soft and penetrable heart, had hardened and a defense and coping mechanism was put in it’s place. A new level of awareness of just how short life is brought up two defenses:
1. I know how short life is, so I am going to live it, show it, and not hold back.
2. I know how short life is, so I don’t want to hurt again, lose again, fear for what I now know to be so true and so I am going to keep a close hold of my heart so that that type of hurt will never find me. (SO unfair to myself and others)
This man, kept showing me he was up for the challenge and we took on this new life together. I had to meet him where he was meeting me. I couldn’t cheat myself anymore. We were put on this earth to love, to cherish and to forgive and forgive ourselves and allow love to come in. Hurts of this life will come but it’s on us to see that we deserve grace, joy, happiness. We get to make mistakes, but instead of holding on to failures we get to release them as part of the journey of finding ourselves through and amidst chaos.
We welcomed two beautiful, vibrant littles into our world, both in October.
We were living the life, the picture. People from the outside saw two successful individuals, a budding family. We were running, he with his business and I growing to the top of the executive ladder and jet setting away. We stopped making time for what mattered – isn’t it funny how we continue to take things for granted in life? He resented me and I resented him. He felt like, I didn’t need him. This conversation came up so often, it became old. I had to stop myself though at a time and sit in those words. He was right. I’m thankful we caught ourselves. I had become so independent. I had learned that I could do life on my own, I had closed off places in my heart for fear of being hurt. I had closed off places of myself to even myself because, it was just too hard to go there. When I almost gave up on us, he asked me to give us another chance. I did and I also knew that I had to meet him where he was opening his heart to meet me. We were both imperfect beings and thankfully still willing to be in it together.
We both showed up and put us at the top. He showed me all over again all of the reasons I needed to stay, he loved me the way I needed to be loved, I loved him the way he needed to be loved. He recently at a dinner with close friends, said, he had become an angry person and he was so thankful I gave us the chance we deserved. I willingly said, I am so thankful for us and that I also put in the work to give us the chance we deserved.
Nothing in this life is perfect. Standing in our kitchen a couple months back, I said “hey babe, I love you” he said “I love you too”. I said, “but I haven’t always” and we both laughed, knowing just what that actually meant. Appreciating this moment and the sweetness and honesty of it. It makes me smile to see that no matter what happens in this life you can go through very treacherous seasons, but if you decide to open your awareness, your heart and you unravel the pieces that you try so hard to keep together – that unraveling reveals true beauty that is just waiting to come out.
Eight years we will be married this year and it really blows my mind how fast our time has gone. I am thankful for this man I didn’t want and just how much I truly need him.