A year ago our families gathered on the beach in Cape May Point, New Jersey to witness a wedding. Astonishingly, I was the bride. I say this because, after being a widow for 13 years, I had concluded that single life had many advantages and steady dating would be the extent of any relational commitment. Finding someone who truly loved me ‘all in’ was a dream I had decided to shelve.
Have you heard the saying “If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans” ? Apparently, it has truth. My new husband, Kelly, entered the picture in a surprising way not long after I told my sister that I was totally fine with staying single.
Kelly and I had actually dated 39 years earlier when I was in law school. We met between my second and third year when I worked at the firm where he was the new hotshot associate. We eventually went our separate ways for reasons neither of us remember. Nonetheless, after three plus decades, he thought of me when he published his first book. He mailed me a copy, including just his business card and a cryptic inscription on the inside cover. Receiving this unexpected package, I was shocked to see his name as the author. ‘How odd,’ I thought. We began emailing simply as old friends who had lost touch. Our email exchanges were funny, interesting and thought provoking. We wrote each other for months before Kelly asked if we could connect in person. My girlfriends, who had seen Kelly’s emails, encouraged me. “You need to meet him. He’s the male version of you!”
So I did, figuring that it wouldn’t hurt to simply meet him, but that if I didn’t check this out I would always wonder, “what if…?”
After that platonic evening, Kelly said he knew. From my perspective I could foresee that getting involved with Kelly would disrupt patterns that had become comfortable, including an existing relationship that had ebbed and flowed for years and was clearly just coasting. But did I want to risk that security in the hope of perhaps finding real, romantic love? Initially I let fear lead the way so I said no. After a week of thinking over the potential repercussions, however, I changed my mind. “Live fully” was a statement that was part of the eulogy summarizing my first husband’s life. If I truly wanted to embrace this ideal, then staying in the safety zone wouldn’t cut it. This required ending what was known. Though I did not do it very well, ultimately I disengaged from the old relationship.
I then reached out to Kelly and he and I decided we would begin dating. His proposal six months later surprised me but I followed the advice of Yogi Berra. “When you come to a fork in the road, take it!”
Now we are truly living happily ever after. Our love is sweeter because it came in the wake of the heartaches we each bore, as well as the wisdom we gained, in the intervening years since we were in our 20s. Had you told me three years ago that my life was about to be upended in the best possible way, I would never have imagined all that has come to pass. I am thankful for fresh beginnings, second chances, new horizons, and hopes fulfilled.
Of course taking a risk can be frightening, whether it’s trying a new relationship, attempting a skill for the first time, making yourself vulnerable or doing anything outside what is known and familiar. But I don’t want to be someone who looks back one day and has regrets because I was too scared to try. I want to continue to have new experiences, live as big a life as I can, and have colorful stories to tell. This mindset does not always come easily. Sometimes I have to remind myself that even if things don’t quite work out as planned, the embarrassing moments or failures will connect me with others in a way that perfect moments and success never do.
What about you? Are you willing to move beyond the ordinary in your own life? Can you name one, out-of-your-comfort-zone thing you, yourself, can say ‘yes’ to doing this week? If so, please share it with me in the comments below so I can cheer you on!
I have been where you are. It was a lonely and grief filled place. As a result, I have made it my mission to help other widows by suggesting that taking action to honor your husband’s legacy will enable you to set goals for yourself so you can begin to embrace life again. What do you mean, you may ask.