Jan. 26, 2010 -
"I wonder if I'll ever date again, if I would have the courage to let someone into my life that way. If I'm attractive enough, how I feel about dating while I have kids at home, if anyone else will ever make me laugh ‘that way.' Or if that time is over for good. If there even is ‘someone.' I'm guessing you'll know when I do."
These are the very last words on the very last page in my recently published book of columns, "Can I Just Say Something?" When the book was being compiled, I was at the tail end of a year of loss after the 2009 death of David, my husband of 34 years. My children and I were still stunned at how deeply everyday life could hurt. Indeed, I would go on to sob uncontrollably at church for another full year, until I begged God to let up on my heart.
A few paragraphs earlier, however, I told readers I suspected life would be offering up new material. "Because, I've been assured, that's what life does," I wrote.
I didn't believe it for a second back then.
But now? Whooeee! Not only has life taken a 180-degree turn, but it's become a rocket shooting up to the moon, with a swing around the Big Dipper. Sending out glitter and rainbows at every turn.
Let's establish right up front that you're just going to have to chew through this sugary, melty concoction I'm serving up in this column. I'd say I'm sorry, but we all know that would be a lie.
Rewind to my first columns following my husband's death. Included with the flood of supportive responses was an email from a man who lives in my town of Milton-Freewater.
I knew your husband, he wrote, but I never connected him with you.
In fact, this man and my husband had chest-bumped into fisticuffs at the high school we all attended. I witnessed the 1973 brawl and turned away with a burning face … one of the idiots fighting was the boy I had recently hiked with. That would be that, I thought.
I'm not so good with my early impressions of people.
After our return to Home Place in the summer of 1994, I remember David coming home with a delighted grin. He'd run into that fellow he once fought with, he said. "We laughed and shook hands."
Over the years there were more reports of running into this guy - always a joke or funny story shared.
Death was stalking that other man and his family, as well. Just over two years after losing his daughter to a dislodged blood clot, his wife of 34 years succumbed to decades of damage from Crohn's Disease. Three months before I lost David and one year after I lost my brother Dwight.
He told me about this in his email, assuring me he understood my raging grief. He spoke a language only a fellow survivor could translate.
That first Christmas season as a widow, this man reached out to me. He was sensitive and kind as we attended his work party with my kiddos, a small knot of people who viewed the holiday with terror.
It felt really good, however, to be completely honest about how much life sucked. Sucked big time.
Separately, we went on to the hard, hard task of rebuilding our lives. Sometimes we checked in via email or text, but I lived in my dark and dreary world while he lived in his. It's the nature of the beast, I suppose - the pain barely allows you to notice others, save for extraordinary circumstances.
This so did not look extraordinary. We saw a movie in late winter this year and I was ready to stop. I could see no continued commonality between us. I found him obsessed with work and espousing some views I completely disagreed with. Not to mention he seemed to feel sorry for me and pity was so last year.
"Done," I thought. "I don't need to try this again." I even shot off an email telling him just what I thought of his opinions and perspective.
I would continue to be nice, of course. He worked hard through emails to convince me I had gotten the wrong impression. We sent off jokes once in awhile and in May I texted him with some offhand question.
He replied with a call, catching me at the grocery store. We talked, and he referenced a blog I had written mentioning boring dates. "I wasn't talking about you. We never dated," I reminded him.
"But," and here I paused, trying to quiet a stammer, "would you like to try, to maybe try, a date?"
That first date was bowling on June 3. We could have no idea then, but by the time we left Stardust Lanes we had boarded a bullet train.
Every time we talk, we find more and more in common. Our lives have run parallel to each other without either one ever seeing the other train track.
Far from having nothing in common, we can't count all the things we share.
We both actively parent kids at home, we both care about being healthy, we both love the Lord.
We both love the other with a hunger that's embarrassing. What if, we've whispered on moonlit nights, this is the love of our lives?
There is plenty that's new, too. He's learning about me and the things I do, like afternoon walks for coffee and my obsessive cleaning habits. I'm learning about him - I've been four wheeling and target shooting and it appears I am going camping soon.
If you could see my friends' faces when they hear that one, you'd know I must be crazy in love.
Last Friday, with a full moon lighting the countryside, we sat far above the Valley and looked out at the lights. We were ready to be quiet with each other, just soaking in the joy of air saturated with happiness.
This man, whom I never expected to find, never expected to love, turned to me. "Will you marry me, Sheila Anne Hagar?"
My reply leapt out of my soul, paying no attention to a calendar or public perception or being practical.
"I will," I answered.
See? I promised you that you would know when I do, "if there even is ‘someone.'" There is.