So, my closest friends and family know this already, but it's time to let the rest of the world know:
Yes, you read that right. It sounds weird to me too. I never thought I'd ever say that - people thought I was ridiculous for thinking I'd be single forever, but I truly believed it. Not only because I couldn't imagine loving someone the way I loved Jeremy, but also because I never thought there'd be anyone out there who'd be willing to take me and my baggage and my three very young children on.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
Where do I begin? Before I start to tell you all about this wonderful guy, let me begin by saying this: I'm not here to play games. I'm not dating just anyone for fun and I have a lot of grieving still left to do. Jeremy will ALWAYS be a part of my life, my story, and my children's lives and I would never settle for anyone who wasn't understanding of that. Anyone who is going to love me is also going to love Jeremy. End of story.
Lucky for me, God placed this incredible man in my life and it's undeniable how perfect we are for each other. In fact, I saw God weaving our lives together before I was even ready to accept it, and it scared me cause I didn't think I was ready. But he has been incredibly patient with my fragile heart and the last few weeks have been completely life changing for me, if for nothing else than the fact that he has opened my eyes and heart to possibilities I couldn't see before. He has given me hope for a future I never thought I could have.
Everyone, meet Steve:
And no, that's not his real mustache :)
I've known Steve for almost 2 years now. We share a few mutual friends (in fact, some our best friends, which is quite nice). It helps that I've known him awhile. I know his character. I know he is an incredible dad. I know he loves God. I know and love his daughters and our children are friends. I know what his good friends think about him. I know what he's been through.
Aside from the fact that I've known him awhile, we have both been through painful experiences. I have been praying for Steve for a long time, and for his daughters, while they struggled through a painful transition in their lives. We both know what it's like to hurt for our children, to grieve a future we'll never have, and we have both tasted hopelessness in its ripest season. One of my favorite things about him is that we both have perspectives about life that most people don't get to have: We have loved and lost and we no longer take those things for granted. It changes the game.
If that's not enough, Steve is a grief counselor (insert ironic chuckle here) and works in Hospice. In fact, he was the director of Camp Hope where Faith attended this summer. And he is probably one of the most patient and thoughtful people I've ever met. He's romantic and sweet, but shares the crass sense of humor that I miss so much from Jeremy. And speaking of Jeremy, not only did he know Steve, but they were friends - not close friends, as he lives out of state, but I remember Jer really liking him - and I trust Jeremy's judge of character like none other. And our girls seriously look related, it's freaky:
New Years weekend brought us together, along with our mutual friends. And we've had a great time together since. We've spent a lot of time talking on the phone, getting to know each other better and really determining if this would work or not. Our friends, knowing that we were well matched, have spent a lot of time praying with me and helping me open up my heart to the possibility of letting someone in. Steve has managed to calm all of my fears and reservations with his patience, kindness, and understanding.
The more I get to know Steve and his daughters, the more I feel God working in our relationship. But it has not come without bumps. This is scary, it's new, it's different. It's changing some of my other important relationships. It has brought me face to face with pieces of grief I had not yet experienced. I think my biggest fear is that people will see me in a new relationship and think that I'm over my grief.....but it's not something I will EVER 'get over' - it's with me for life. I'm afraid people will stop mentioning Jeremy and stop talking about him around me, and that would just completely break my heart. Steve is so great at asking me question about Jeremy and letting me talk about him, he understands where I've been and he appreciates who it's created me to be. He also knows that Jeremy's family is my family and they mean the entire world to me.
I've spent hours upon hours talking to Jeremy about not just Steve, but also about letting him go enough that I can let someone else in. I prayed God would show me right away if this relationship wasn't something good because I couldn't put my children or my heart through that and I didn't want to waste my time. I spent the first couple weeks trying to find things wrong with Steve, and honestly, nothing stuck. I don't know how to explain it, but I feel such peace from Jeremy about Steve. He treats me so well, he genuinely cares about me and my kids, my kids love him, he cares about my relationship with Jeremy (he has told me that one of his favorite things about me is the way I love Jeremy because it lets him know that I am loyal, which is a love he's never experienced before), and he wants to take on the responsibility to honoring him and remembering him with me - everything else seems secondary.
I have a long way to go. I am still figuring out who I am and who God wants me to be in the midst of all the dust that grief has left me in. But I'm thankful to have found a man that I not only care a lot about, but also a guy I know Jeremy would approve of.
And no, that's not my real mustache either :)
Thank you to those who have encouraged me, who have prayed for me and who have let me express excitement in a new relationship. Happiness these days still comes with a lot of guilt attached to it, cause I don't know how to do it without Jeremy. Luckily, I'm discovering that I don't have to - I get to bring him with me.
It feels good to feel good.
I posted this on my facebook status from another fellow widow blogger, and I've carried it with me since:
“We must be willing to let go of the life we had planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell