Y'all didn't realize how much there was to know about Steve! Well, here's the rest of our questions:
4. I'd love to know how Steve fell in love with you and how he first knew. You've mentioned that he was Jeremy's friend. I'd love to know more about how he approached you and how he fell for you. :)
I would love to know more about Steve and how you two came to meet and fall in love. Steve's background was very vague so I’m wondering if that has to do with you two getting together and meeting.
Vee and I first met officially back a couple of years ago, but we both agree that we may have met earlier than that but it would have just been in passing. I had met and known Jeremy several years prior to meeting Vee while he was singing and traveling with Deeper Still at many of the youth functions that I had taken my youth group to when I was a Youth Minister. Although Jeremy and I were not what I would consider close friends, we had talked on the phone a couple of times about church work, finances, and hunting right up to a few weeks before his death. When Vee and I met officially she and Jeremy had come down to Indiana to visit some of our mutual friends and we all wound up going out to eat together. While Vee and I both wish we could remember a lot more about that day, we both remember how Jeremy and I sat at the end of the table together, laughing and sharing funny and crass stories with each other.
Vee and I have many mutual friends and had hung out together several times over the years both while Jeremy was alive and after his death. Ever since I met Vee for the first time I appreciated many things about her that are apparent for anyone who comes into contact with her: her love for her husband, her love for her children, her love for God, and her fun-loving personality.
Because we had so many mutual friends who knew our personalities were so close and we had always enjoyed hanging out with each other, several of our friends saw what a good fit we would be together before we ever started dating.
When I talked to Vee for the first time about being more than “just friends,” we had a long conversation about how neither one of us was interested in “dating for fun.” Too much was at risk! We both had children, schedules, lives, and most importantly, we had both been hurt (for different reasons) and didn’t want to waste time in a relationship that really wasn’t going to go anywhere. I think our first conversation lasted 4 hours where we both laid out a laundry list of our own hurts, fears, and things we couldn’t comprise on. Over the next week we talked several times a day, sharing deep details and “exploring the possibility” of us together. I clearly remember the moment where I knew Vee was the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. While Vee is super gorgeous and every day I feel very blessed to wake up beside such a physically attractive woman, it was not her outward beauty that made me fall in love with her, but her heart, her honesty, and her openness. I remember her telling me very intimate hurts and mistakes, things she wanted to change and regrets that she had. I know it sounds a bit weird to fall in love with someone as they tell you the stuff about their life they are embarrassed by, but for me it made me realize a couple things about Vee: 1) She is as honest a woman as there is! As Vee shared with me I realized that there were no secrets, no hidden spaces, she was not going to cover up the scary parts of her life, but those were going to be as exposed as all of the beautiful pieces of her life. In her honesty Vee was showing me “all” of her – and that is how I love her the most, I love the past mistakes and broken pieces right along side the creativity, strong and loving nature, and amazing beauty! 2) I could trust her with everything! Vee shared with me hurts that she didn’t have to share with me, things I would have never know had she just kept them to herself, but she didn’t! She showed me in sharing her life with me that I could trust her with everything – and I do! 3) That she cared about me, my fears, and my girls enough to not put up a façade of who she thought I was looking for, but was willing to show me all side of her – and I honestly love them all!
While I knew within the first two weeks that I wanted to marry Vee, I also knew that it was going to be harder for her to feel the same. Not only was Vee going to have to search her heart to make sure she was ready for this step after losing Jeremy, but she would have to battle the “mile-markers” in a new relationship that meant that Jeremy would no longer be the person that she was going to be experiencing those things with. She would have to find a peace in her own heart and mind between loving me and loving Jeremy, and she would have to navigate any shame or guilt that may come from family, friends, and strangers who may tell her that her love for Jeremy was insignificant for finding another love in her life. For anyone who has been widowed – these are huge steps! I realized this and from day one I tried to make sure that Vee understood I did not want to make her sacrifice her past for her future – whether it was with me or anyone else.
I will let Vee share at a later time how she fell in love with me… but that is how I knew she was the one for me J
Vee: Since I don’t believe there is another question about how I came to fall in love with Steve, I suppose I’ll answer here. Oddly enough, it didn’t take that long considering, and yet it evolved through what seemed like endless prayer, countless late night conversations with my best friend, and a lot of tears. The first night we sat on the phone together for hours getting to know each other, I hung up and my first thought was…”Well, crap.” It’s true! I couldn’t find anything wrong with him – he was genuine, funny, kind, a wonderful dad (and I already loved his daughters), thoughtful, and really seemed to understand what I was going through. Aside from those things, we were obviously very compatible – in our humor, interests, music tastes, parenting styles, ambitions, etc. I didn’t want to like him, but from the very beginning, I knew God was up to something. Everything seemed to fit together too well, and I was waiting for a shoe to drop. But it never did. And every time I talked to him, I found the hardest pieces of my heart start to soften.
I was still very careful about it though. I asked God early on to make it very obvious to me if this was not the path He wanted me to take. I will never forget the first time Steve told me he loved me: I could tell he’d been wanting to tell me, but I could also tell that it was bittersweet for him. He shared the guilt he originally felt for falling in love with me and knowing that the only way it could’ve happened was out of Jeremy’s death and how much that hurt him. I remember him telling me that falling in love with me meant that he would do anything to bring Jeremy back for me so I wouldn’t have to hurt. WOW (that’s exactly what I thought, too). But they weren’t just words from him – I knew he meant them. I remember telling Sarah about it, just aching for someone to share it with. She asked me how I felt about it, and I burst into tears and said “I’m completely in love with him, but I don’t know how to say it!” I knew I had fallen for Steve, but had a really hard time telling him. I knew once I did, I could never go back. It meant facing a really scary world I was unfamiliar with, and also one that would hold judgment, ridicule, and confusion from others who didn’t understand. But again, I feel like I can’t stress this enough – it was God’s timing, not mine. So, while Steve told me he loved me first and I patiently waited for the right moment, it totally bubbled over and spilled out of me! How did I get so lucky to find two incredible, God-fearing men in my life? I really have no idea but I can tell you, I’m so incredibly grateful.
5. I'm dying to know: what is the story with Steve and ice cream cake?
I am dying to know, who doesn’t like ice-cream cake?! For real!!! Seriously though, when I was growing up my mom had her own business making wedding cakes – which meant that many weeks our house was filled with the smell of warm, delicious cake! So, my love for all kinds of cakes started in my childhood… but ice-cream cakes seems to be just a Canada thing J The first trip that I made to Canada to visit Jeremy’s family we celebrated Jeremy’s oldest sisters birthday and they had an ice-cream cake. Every time I have been back to visit our Canadian family since then, we have had ice-cream cake (for various reasons – but I refuse look a gift-horse in the mouth!) so it seems like a bit of tradition now! We are heading up to Canada this week and, since its Byron’s birthday (Jeremy’s dad), Arlene got a new job (Jeremy’s mom), and I finished my Masters – I think we decided to eat ice-cream cake everyday we are there – or at least that is what I have been replaying over and over again in my head J
6. Does Steve allow you to keep pictures of Jeremy up in common areas of the house? Does he allow you to mourn Jeremy on Jeremy's birthday, death-day, and wedding anniversary you shared with him? Are you allowed to "visit" Jeremy? I ask these because there is this very popular guy online who encourages people who marry widow(er)s to force the widow(er) to extricate the deceased spouse from their life completely, never again speaking of them or visiting the cemetery or anything, and calls grieving people selfish if they want to do these things. If that is what I have to do to find love again, then I can do without it. I will never extricate my deceased husband from my heart. Ever.
The love and relationship that Vee and Jeremy had was real, valuable, and life changing! They were both better people because of each other and together they brought three wonderful children in the world! Jeremy didn’t choose to leave, he did not mistreat Vee or abandon his children, he died. And just because someone dies does not mean that we no longer love them, or want to talk about them. It’s not a matter of me “allowing” Vee to put pictures of Jeremy in the house, it’s a part of who she is and who the kids are! In order to fully love her, I have to love her for who she is, not for who I want her to be. Before we were married, Vee had pictures of Jeremy in the bedroom, living room, hallway, etc….since we’ve been married, none of that has changed nor have I asked her to change any of it. However, if I’m being honest, the first night we were home together, I remember looking over at a picture of Jeremy and Veronica and for a moment I felt like I had taken another man’s wife. Since that time, it hasn’t bothered me but I know if it did, it would be something Vee and I could talk openly about. At the same time, I also realize that those feelings don’t stem from Jeremy and Veronica’s relationship, or even from the pictures, but come from my own insecurities and inadequacies. Not only will I never ask Veronica to take any pictures of Jeremy down in the house, but I think it’s good and healthy to leave some up because it gives us an opportunity to talk about Jeremy, his life, and to talk with the kids about their dad.
Very early on, I made sure that Vee knew it was ALWAYS ok to talk about Jeremy, her past with him, times when she missed him the most, and whatever else she wanted to share. I share this information because I believe that if you are a widow or a widower, you should not EVER have to leave your past behind to move forward with someone else. If someone that you are dating does not like it that you talk about your late spouse, have pictures of them, or items that remind you of them – then I would suggest that they are not the person you should waste your time with!
Vee: I want to interject here to share my side of this as well as attest to what a great guy Steve really is. It’s true that he doesn’t mind the pictures of Jer in the house or all the other things around that belonged to him. Steve knew that first week we were talking that I would never settle for anything less than someone who didn’t respect my relationship and life I had already built WITH Jeremy – and then BECAUSE of Jeremy. The woman that Steve fell in love with is the woman who was shaped and changed by another man. It’s just a part of our relationship. But I will state that it is not the MAIN part of our relationship. While I’m thankful that Steve has never asked me to take pictures of Jeremy down, I also know that if I didn’t have any pictures of Steve anywhere to be found or in addition to the ones already up, that wouldn’t be fair to Steve, or to his girls. While planning our wedding, we were very intentional about honoring Jeremy, but not having a memorial service – it was a day to celebrate the love and redemption that Steve and I found in each other, and it wouldn’t be fair again to Steve if the whole day was about Jeremy. He was evident in every corner – in the faces of his beautiful family, his wonderful sisters standing beside me, the candle lit, the location, the stories – he was there. He will always be there. And I continue to carry him with me. It’s a hard balance to figure out how to create a future with a man that still is so entangled in a past with another man. I can’t say I’ve mastered it or can even claim we’re doing it right, but I can say that Steve and I work together as a team when we come across any of these issues, and very respectfully work through them together with prayerful consideration.
Since we are a team, Steve is very proactive about honoring Jeremy’s legacy and making sure that our children know what a great man he was. We take things to Jer’s memorial stone for special days – or just when the kids ask. We have picnics there on beautiful days because we like to spend time there. I have taken Steve up to Jeremy’s grave in Canada as well. It was important to both of us. Last year, we started a tradition on Jeremy’s birthday to honor his memory by all getting together and making Jer’s favorite foods and remembering him…this year, Steve participated and even drove through the night to be a part of it, made a dish, and made an effort to show that he was not a replacement for Jeremy, and that he wanted to be a part of remembering him. He talks to Faith and Caleb about their daddy regularly, asking them questions about him, their memories, and praying about him at night. Zada and Reagan have decorated stones for Jeremy and other special items on their own request.
Steve also understands that my grief is on-going and never-ending. I still struggle to understand why Jeremy’s not here. I still battle anger in moments, I still burst into tears for no reason. Not often, and not out of unhappiness of my life now, but because grieving someone who was an integral part of your life never ends. I still love Jeremy as much as I ever have. I still miss him every single day. And if someone wants to claim that as selfishness – then so be it. I don’t mind being selfish in that way and luckily, Steve understands that. He is very patient with me in my grief, loving and understanding – even if that just means I lay in his arms and cry. And sometimes, that’s exactly what I need.
7. How does Steve feel reading your blog when you talk about missing and loving Jeremy and not being able to wait to be reunited with him in heaven? I know he is a kind, understanding man, but it has to hurt him just a little.
While I know that for many of you, Vee’s blog is your main access to her life, her world and her grief, for me Vee’s blog is a summary of various topics and thoughts and emotions we’ve talked about together since we first started dating. While you read her posts a couple of times a month, I get the opportunity to talk with her on car rides, or bedtime, or as we’re going throughout our daily routine – so there’s nothing in her blogs that surprise me or catch me off-guard or aren’t things that we haven’t already talked about along the way. However I feel like maybe the underlying question is does it ever bother me that Vee loves and misses another man? The honest answer is it’s hard to watch someone to grieve. It’s hard to know that along side every happy moment, you watch them also miss somebody they would love to be there with. Even though it’s hard, it doesn’t change the way I feel about Vee or the way I love her or the way I know that she loves me. While I have a lot of my own insecurities based from my past relationship, because of the way Vee loved and loves Jeremy, because of her loyalty to him, I feel safe in my relationship with Veronica, knowing she can love me the same way.
Vee: Heaven happens to be a sensitive topic for us both, and one that I will attempt to dive into in another post.