The start of things.
My fireman is on shift tonight, which means I’m sitting at home being equal parts terrified that he will be called to do something heroic that could take him away from me and our kids, and jealous that the more likely scenario is that he’s staying up late eating ice cream and watching movies with his crew. In tonight’s case it’s totally the latter and he’s safe and sound, laughing and joking in a recliner, a nice kid-free evening with the guys. But the fear never goes away. At any moment, his life, and ours, could drastically change. With just one call. One call could change everything. Him being on shift also means that after I put our babies to bed, it was just me by myself downstairs alone.
So I binge watched a sappy romantic drama on Netflix for a while, and though (of course) it was idealistic and unrealistic, it actually reminded me of how we started out in our relationship. It reminded me how insanely lucky we were, and are, to have found each other, and how we both almost made very minute split-second decisions that would have kept us from each other forever. So easily we both could have missed out on the most incredible love that I could have ever imagined. I almost did. I almost made that catastrophic mistake. Well, actually, I did make it. And that’s how I knew what an enormous and life altering mistake it was.
When Jason and I met at first, it wasn’t meeting at all. We were set up to have met on a blind date by a mutual friend, but I was shy and so young and I decided we should talk for a while first. So we talked online and over text for months before I agreed to meet him in person. We set up a coffee date and a walk by the river and I was terrified and ecstatic, and I was actually already completely sure that I was entirely in love with him and he was it for me. Something in me knew. My soul knew him. He was the one. That was exciting, but it was also very real and very scary.
This part of the story I don’t like to tell, but I didn’t keep that date. I canceled it the day before. Because I had let others cloud my judgement and I feared being happy and finding my intended future, I missed out on the best love I would ever know. And I regretted it. Actively. For YEARS. I thought about him every single day. For four years. I made the wrong decision, the biggest mistake of my life, and I knew it. It couldn’t be changed anymore. I couldn’t go back and undo it. So I just regretted it, vehemently, in the pit of my stomach and deep in my chest, for years. Sometimes the grief of it was so heavy, I could physically feel it and I would double over in resentment. Sometimes it took my breath away. I missed him. This man that had swept in and overhauled my entire belief of love and equality and life, really. And I made a massive and life altering mistake. I often laid awake at night, actively wondering how I messed up the one thing in all of my existence that actually seemed like destiny. I often talked about him to other people, explaining my decision, trying to justify something in myself that would never come to be reconciled. But all it really ever did was tell all my friends about how incredible he was, and now I only knew this from a distance.
The mistake stood. A gigantic, looming, horrible mistake, that changed my life forever.
After years of feeling this way, I wrote him a letter. A mild letter, but I had to say something. I also learned that he was now engaged to someone else. That both shattered every piece of my heart and offered a small sense of relief. He had found the one his soul loved, I thought to myself. He found someone who he loved as I had loved him. I kept my letter brief and innocent. I just wanted him to know that the reason I didn’t meet him that day was because of me, not him. And that he had completely changed my life. I had never known a man who treated me with such respect and admiration. A true gentleman. A man I could marry. He taught me the most valuable lesson that any man could have (and every man should have) that I was worth that kind of treatment and I was capable of finding it.
So, I needed to say something to him. I needed to speak into the silence. Have some closure and move on. That was really my only intention – to be able to move on. To my surprise, he wrote me back. He was kind and brief as well. He thanked me for speaking up and for my courage. And that was that. I said my peace, he took it well. We both now knew, and I could move on. And I tried.
I tried for another year. I dated many people, I tried to forget his face, his wisdom, I tried to make it work with anyone else. But it didn’t. We stayed in touch. Loosely. Casually. We’d talk every few months. He planned his wedding. And I dated a lot. But it seemed like every relationship I started was doomed to failure. I tried really hard to make anything else work, but they were all so far off. I tried not to bother him. I wanted the statement in my letter to be true; I didn’t want to interfere in his life. At all. But he kept coming back to me.
One night I got a message from him and it was different this time. It wasn’t casual. It was late at night and his message was inquisitive, flirty even. Deliberate and straight forward. He was on a mission. Though I don’t know that either of us really knew what would come of it. He told me he was single and that he couldn’t stop thinking about me and what I had said to him. He asked if he could finally take me out. I said yes this time, and I stuck to it. He almost didn’t send that message. He almost just left it alone. Just as I had. We each, for different reasons, had almost decided not to go there. Not to try. Not to say what our hearts wanted to say. And if either of us had done that, we could have spent an eternity without each other. I can’t even imagine what that would have been like.
He is the greatest love I’ve ever known. I knew right from the beginning. From before we ever even stood face to face. I knew he was the one. He is the one my soul loves. He is my rock and my comfort. We’ve been madly in love and hopelessly dedicated to other since our first date, and I’ve never had a single doubt in my mind about our destiny to be together. Since then we’ve been through things that I know I never would have survived with any other person, and I absolutely would not have survived them on my own. We remind each other often of how lucky we both are and how blessed we feel that God lead us back to each other.
Sometimes it’s nice to walk away from the chaos of life, step back, and remember where we started, and how close we came to not starting at all. Sometimes it takes a night away from my fireman and a sappy Netflix drama to remind you about your own fairytale story. So I challenge you, to make a choice to take a chance, your whole life might be waiting on the other side.