It is a fairytale.
Not the kind of hallmark movies or a Nicholas Sparks novels.
It’s our heavenly father’s version of happily ever after.
A fairytale born out of stretching and growing, missteps and heartache. Building blocks on a journey that brought us to this day.
No glass slippers, just a belief that a desire born of the heart was God’s whisper; his calling that marriage was a part of his plan for us.
“Wake me up in the middle of the night Momma”.
What she really means is when the sky is dark, grab me from my bed, wrap me in a blanket and cuddle me on the couch.
Before sissy’s wake up, homework needs completed and breakfasts are made, in your arms give me moments of quiet slumber.
A tradition started soon after her daddy moved out.
My alarm clock would ring at 4:45am and the treadmill would beckon.
Most days, when I would return from the run, I would find her asleep on the couch. Awoken by the movements of my mornings; needing me, but knowing even at three the importance of those runs for her Momma, she staked her claim on the couch and patiently waited.
Together we came up with a solution.
The morning run complete, I would sneak into her room and whisper in her ear,
“It’s the middle of the night, shall we cuddle”.
And now as we await the addition of four new family members, the requests have returned.
She is finding her own ways of articulating what she needs to manage this life transition.
And, I am finding, our needs are not all that different.
In God’s house,
on bended knee,
he asked for my hand.
These girls, this man, this beautiful life and the journey that brought us together – yes.
When the giggles subsided, with tears flowing, we joined our hands and bowed our heads in prayer. Gratefulness poured out of me as I promised our heavenly father I would seek each day to be the wife, the mother, the women, he is calling me to be.
Our lives now joyful, together.
Born on this day 71 years ago.
A decade passed since the last celebrated with him.
His favorite pie, steak’s on the grill, a side of dry rub wings while we sat on the patio watching the deer dance down the hill. Daisy dog by his side.
Looking at the well-worn hands, holding the beer, you wouldn’t have guessed him a preacher.
Years spent weaving words together for his “day job” yet true joy came from moments spent in his yard on that hill or at his beach house, the constant battle with the encroaching prickly bushes.
Two days before he passed, as we stood around him, I rubbed his thumb. The low hum of the medical devices keeping him alive became the background music as I stared at those hands, flooded with a lifetime of memories.
He and I on our knees inspecting my work done with hand shears trimming the lawn. Gentle correction to cut the grass shorter next time.
His hands on the steering wheel, another road trip adventure to some far-flung battlefield. His baritone belting out You are My Sunshine.
His hands a reflection of his message, of how he choose to live his life;
battle-scarred, worn rough from working and loving hard.
One day these words will fade but I hope its my hands the girls will remember, may they resemble his.
Each evening before sleep our prayers are joined.
Whispered words over the phone after little girls are tucked away.
The routine born from a desire to put our faith at the center of our relationship.
Before the I love you’s to each other were spoken, we had chosen to share our love for him.
108 nights have now passed.
Vacations, work trips, weariness and girls unable to sleep, but not one night interrupted; not one evening missed.
Our foundation on which we build this house.
Its’ been a pleasure.
On this day a year ago all I wanted was to peer around the bend, just a snippet of what lie ahead.
No looking glass that night or the nights after, more uncertainty unfolding one day after the next.
But, at some point, living with the uncertainty became ok.
I stopped orchestrating.
I started listening.
And now 40 is not a single bit like I thought it would be.
I’m not who I thought I would be.
I don’t have to be finished.
I don’t have skip ahead to know the end to this chapter.
I can believe.
I can trust.
I can look back now to see that all along this 39th year was designed to lead me here.
In his time, in his way, answered prayers.
Thank you for all that you were.
If you don’t mind, could you put in a good word for me with 40? You’ve built a great foundation for her to work with.
So you’ve walked 1200 days alone before he enters.
One would think it would wreak havoc on a life.
Decisions now made with input of another.
Days that dance by, one fuller then the next.
Yet, somehow, it all just works,
our stories blending.
Those three girls and their daddy, my three girls and that dog, the group of us, all eight meandering through life together.
Dear Lord help us to continue to love each other as we should.
This is the way this life’s meant to be lived.
The way that little girl always dreamed it would be.
It began with our Priest.
His words to Matt a summer ago.
The gentle nudging that Matt should pursue that women across the aisle. The one at daily mass, alone or with her girls. His urging that both Matt and I were on the same journey.
But as often times happens we each sought others, because, after all, what does your Priest know about love :)?
But that wise Priest prayed and his intentions soon joined with others who noticed God’s hand in the story. Hundreds of days lived as we continued to move separately through this life.
That is until one day, when the experiences were had, the moments lived apart, we were finally ready to come together.
So it turns out our Priest, our friends and our little girls, both Matt’s and mine, knew a whole lot more about love then what we imagined.
They knew that love was built on a foundation of faith.
They knew that shared goals, the desire for growth, were an essential.
And they knew that our Holy Spirit works in the most wondrous ways.
Yesterday, as I looked down the table at the gaggle of six girls enjoying their post church Mexican buffet and being entertained by the Priest who prayed for it all to happen, my heart danced.
This love story begins.