I have succeeded at a number of things in life, but my friends and family would tell you that love is not one of those things. In fact, my ability to choose a man to be my partner in life has met with various levels of disaster. So much so in fact that my friends had requested to choose the “next one.”
Now, not every relationship was a total loss. Of particular note was my marriage to my children’s father. He is a good person and without him I would not have experienced parenthood which was and is my dream come true. We now are better co-parents than we were life partners. I respect and him and care about his well-being. I’m proud of us for being good parents and putting our son above ourselves.
But the high school sweetheart who is now an Elvis impersonator – he was NOT a good choice. I won’t go through all the others – let’s just say that for a variety of reasons, who I have been attracted to has historically not been who meets my needs and brings out the best in me.
Until this year.
I had not been looking when I found Lee. And he was not unknown to me. I knew him – only slightly – through work. He lives in South Dakota and we saw each other in December at a board meeting I made a presentation at before I left to celebrate Christmas in Budapest by myself. I was thrilled to be doing a solo vacation for the first time in my life. I mentioned to him that we should have dinner the next time he was in DC. He agreed. I meant it as a friendly but professional dinner.
You see, I liked him and thought he was nice but I had no idea he was towards the end of an unplanned and unwanted divorce that had shaken him to the core and shattered his heart some months prior.
In the first days of the new year we started texting and talking and by the time our professional dinner arrived in mid-January, it was a date. A really good date. With an old fashioned, innocent kiss. It was a whirlwind courtship. I have made so many mistakes in this area so on one hand, it felt reckless to be moving so quickly. On the other hand, after several years of really focusing on what I need and want (and what my son needs and wants), Lee was the perfect blend and our mutual friends approved.
I said to my friend Jana, “He’s not my usual type.” Jana, never one to miss a beat or a quip said, “Not your type is a good place to start.”
What I meant was this – Lee is a wholesome, down to earth man. He knows who he is and what he believes but at the same
time he is respectful of others’ viewpoints and he listens to other points of view and aims to understand them. He isn’t easily intimidated. He’s strong and resilient. He’s brave and successful and smart but also very humble and kind. He’s patient and he has no discernable temper. He doesn’t react with emotion. He waits, processes, and carefully considers his reactions. He’s ambitious and adventurous. He takes risks and he doesn’t wait for life to happen to him – when he wants something, he pursues it. In a world where so many people take the easy road, he is willing to be a leader and make difficult decisions which is an elusive quality these days. He knows how to give advice and is not annoyed when people do not take it. He is confident, loving and generous. Most of all he is perhaps the kindest and most genuine person I have ever known. I trust him implicitly and as I told my friend Julie – he makes me want to be the very best version of myself.
I can honestly say I have never felt as if I can trust any man with my life and all that comes with it. I have always held back pieces of me. I could never let myself be fully vulnerable with anyone before. I never intended to. Perhaps that is a function of watching my parents’ marriage dissolve and never wanting to let myself be vulnerable in that way. I think that’s probably what it stemmed from. Maybe I subconsciously chose people based on that.
But so much has happened in the last 10 years. I’ve grown so much and healed and learned a lot about myself and what I need and want. I wasn’t looking for Lee. I was really in a good place as a single mom with lots of great friends. The last thing I expected to do was fall in love with a colleague and in 6 months time, marry him.
But here I am. A newlywed. Happier than I ever knew I could be. My son loves him too and even though my son has a dedicated dad, Lee brings yet another wonderful person into his life and honestly, can you ever have too many wonderful people who love you? No! Lee has 2 sons as well and 2 grandsons and 3 sisters. I love the life we are building together and all of the special people in it.
Lee and I got married on the 4th of July in his hometown of Pierre, SD. We had a simple ceremony. My son walked me down the aisle. One of his sons was his best man. We had about 60 people there and then we all went back to our house in Pierre for a traditional 4th of July party with ribs, brisket, wedding cake and massive amounts of fireworks. It was perfect.
However many years we have together, it will never be enough. I wish I had found him earlier in life. Yet, I also feel strongly that life has shaped me into who I am now and that perhaps it all worked out just as it was supposed to. Because of all we have been through I think we will both always treasure what we have found in each other – every day – in large and small ways.
It took me a long time to figure out love. But I think I have finally gotten it right. Lee is the perfect person for me and I look back on all the things that had to happen to get us to notice each other in a different way last December, and I just think – it was meant to be. This year has been a blessing like few others I have ever known.