Not all love stories have happy beginnings. Some are messy. Complicated. Chocked full of emotional baggage. Odds that are piled a mile high against ya. A decade later, I’ve finally found the courage to write in greater depth about OUR love story…here goes nothing.
Scott and I met in 2005, not long after my oldest daughter was born. I was sitting in his mom’s living room with my husband sitting right next to me and Scott’s mom sitting on the couch across from us. We were there discussing childcare arrangements for when I went back to my teaching job. His mom was going to watch Gracie for me. His mom also happened to be my husband’s great aunt, who had just moved down the road from his (my first husband’s) parents. It was perfect really, I needed a sitter for Gracie and she needed something meaningful to occupy her time in retirement. If you know Scott, you know he’s a man of few words. I saw him, we smiled and said hi, nice to meet you, and that was that.
Fast forward 3 years.
My husband was diagnosed with kidney cancer, at the age of 27. In 10 months, from the time he had his kidney removed, until the day he took his last breath, our lives were the most excruciating, hellish nightmare, that to this day still seems surreal. He went from being strong as a damn ox to withering away to nearly nothing. The havoc that cancer can wreak on a body is absolutely mind blowing. He was SO sick. In constant pain. Struggled to make peace and really never did with his diagnosis. He did not want visitors. He did not want people to see him. I HAD LOST HIM BEFORE HE EVER PHYSICALLY LEFT THIS EARTH. The human being I had known since I was 15 years old, left well before he took his last breath. And so, the day he passed, I felt peace. Relief. I COULD BREATHE AGAIN. I could be a mother to our little girl who was quickly approaching her 3rd birthday, and I could focus on the sweet baby boy in my belly who was due anytime.
Fast forward 5 months.
I spent a lot of time at Brad’s parent’s house. I have no family of my own that lives close. My mom passed away almost a month after Brad passed. My brother, dad, grandparent’s all live 2-6 hours away. I also started spending more time at Scott’s mom’s house, because it was just down the road from Brad’s parent’s house. She shared that house with Scott’s sister and her two kids. It was during that time that Scott also started spending more time there, working on different projects around their house.
I was in NO WAY, SHAPE or FORM looking to move on, date, marry again. I was enjoying the journey of finding ME. The ME that got lost in the murky waters of getting married at such a young age, having been with that person since I was just a girl, really. I was discovering who I was in a way I had never been able to do before.
But, there he was. Soft spoken. Calm. Wise. A protector. I. JUST. FELL. Head over heels. ALL IN. That stirring in my soul, the voice in my head, that feeling in my gut all screamed at me, YOU ARE GONNA MARRY HIM. In my heart of hearts, I believe it was the Holy Spirit urging me. Pushing me. TAKE THE LEAP.
I remember the day I told my best friend. I was terrified. She smiled, was so happy for me and then warned me that I better have some thick skin. I couldn’t even begin to fathom how right she would be.
From the time Scott and I made our relationship “public” until at least a few years into our marriage, I went from the girl who everyone felt sorry for, which I hated, to the girl that some, not all, looked at as the town whore. Yes, I was actually called that. More than once. HOW COULD I? How could I possibly move on so quickly after my husband passed away? How could I betray him like that? Most likely I was cheating with Scott before Brad ever passed. I shamed Brad’s name by moving on so quickly. And ON and ON and ON.
Every day, I felt like I had to put my suit of armor on, simply because I LOVED ANOTHER MAN. A man who did not one thing to deserve the judgement he endured. I sat and held Brad’s hand after an entire night of torture, pain, as his body was preparing to leave this earth. I witnessed his last breath. An image that to this day haunts me if I think too much about it. I HONORED my vows. I was a good and faithful wife. Through SICKNESS and in health. Yet, I was told repeatedly, that I didn’t honor him…and all I wanted to SCREAM back was…
HOW. DARE. YOU. JUDGE. ME.
Grief happens in it’s own time.
Everyone grieves differently
We are called to LOVE, not JUDGE
I lost my husband to cancer when I was 27 years old. I had a toddler and a baby on the way. I lost my mom a month later. THERE IS NO HANDBOOK FOR THAT. And so, I followed the handbook of my heart. Simple. As. That.
Through it all, Scott said, I HAVE YOUR BACK. He shouldered every tear. Every scream. Every rant. Every bit of ALL THE UGLINESS I had inside of me and all the ugliness the world was throwing at us. He. Shouldered. It. ALL.
And so, you better believe that TEN YEARS after we said I DO, I am screaming from the rooftops, my heart is bursting with LOVE and PRIDE and JOY…
…to the man who helped to breathe life back in to my soul. To the man who loves ME for ME. Who is the calm to my storm. The peace to my fury. The man who loves ALL of our kids as if they were his very own from the moment they took their first breath.
Our marriage is not perfect. We can’t agree on what temperature to set the thermostat. He’s always hot. I’m always cold. He needs an IV of caffeine to get moving in the morning and I hit the ground running without a drop. We come from two very different worlds. He doesn’t have a competitive bone in his body and I get WAY too competitive playing UNO with the kids. We could not be more opposite. Maybe that’s why we work.
I am eternally grateful to those who stood beside me through it all. Who had my back. Who defended me. Grateful. Grateful. Grateful.
Through God’s grace and a lot of work inside my own heart, I had to let go of the anger. The resentment. The bitterness. I have forgiven. I have moved on. I am grateful for the peace that has been made. For the wounds that have been allowed to heal.
Not all love stories have happy beginnings. Some are messy. Complicated. Chocked full of emotional baggage. Odds that are piled a mile high against ya. But, THIS love story is OURS and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
As always, thanks for reading!