Monday, January 18, 2016

Lanny & Gina: A Love Story, Part 3

I am just over seven months ahead of my Lanny Love
on the widow hood grief journey.
It is a journey that cannot be rushed
and one that will not come to an end.
We will always be Al's and Judy's widowed spouses.
We will always cherish our memories of them.
We will always love them.
We will always miss them.
I have said it before,
but it bears repeating -

Our love for one another 
is not instead of our love for them, 
it is in addition to it.

I mention this
because Al and Judy are part of our love story -
especially this part.

When I first realized that my Al had been right,
I needed to love and be loved,
wanted to remarry,
I felt very disloyal.
After all, I had been his wife for nearly 37 years,
his girl for five before that.
I had had only three other dates in my life outside of him.
So taking the plunge, 
making the decision to move forward without him,
was not done easily or lightly,
but I did it.
And, I met someone,
fell in love,
and got my heart broken.
Then I broke a heart.
So, I will tell you,

My Lanny Love understood.
He had honored my need for safety.
Had not wanted to scare me off.
Had proceeded carefully,
as a gentleman.

We took our time,
Wrote long emails filled with
life details,
We talked about everything
from favorite colors
to moral values
to childhoods and families
to our late spouses
to our hopes and dreams for -
and our fears of -
the future.
Finally, we decided to meet.

First date.
Second date a week later.
Third date a few days later.
Fourth date, a couple days later.
First kiss.
Seeing one another daily.
"I think I'm falling in love with you!"
"I love you!"
We had begun talking about "what if".
Then he said to me one evening,
"You have to marry me!"
It wasn't a proposal,
and I knew it wasn't -
we were not there yet -
but I relaxed,
began to trust not only my heart,
but his.

Then suddenly,
shortly after his "marry me" comment,
things changed.
He became more distant.
More reserved.
Our relationship became awkward
where it had always been easy.
I felt hesitation in him when there had previously been none.

And so, over dinner one night,
we talked.
I told him I needed to know where I stood.
And he needed to know if he was ready to be in love again,
or if he was not.
He agreed.
And so, that night, he decided to take some "wilderness" time,
just him and nature and God.
That was on a Saturday,
he planned to leave on Monday.
I told him I thought we should step back,
not see each other or talk again until he returned.
He planned to be gone five days.

I asked him not to call me or text me with his answer.
I wanted to talk face-to-face.
Either way.
We held each other.
He told me he loved me.
I cried.
And we parted ways.

I had been where he was.
Had broken a heart as a result.
I knew it was very possible,
despite his feelings for me -
for he did love me and I him and we both knew that -
despite that love,
I knew it was possible
that he would discover he was not ready,
that he would decide to stop seeing me.

I spent the week in prayer along with him.
And God gave me calmness,
assurance that His plan was unfolding as He intended.
Experience had taught me
that didn't necessarily mean I would get what I wanted.
But I sure hoped it meant that!

He texted me on Monday to let me know he had arrived safely.
I heard from him the following day letting me know
he had moved to another campsite.
A picture text of his campsite on Wednesday.
Then on Thursday, he said he was coming home.
A day early.

He arrived home late Thursday evening.
We spoke on the phone
and arranged to meet for dinner the following evening after work.
His words and tone filled me with hope.
Still, that night and the following work day were

I had never been nervous with him.
Not even on our first date.
But I was nervous that night.
I dressed carefully.
Spent extra time on my hair and makeup.
I was ready when he arrived at 7:30.
I opened the door
and he took my breath away.
He put his arms around me,
kissed me soundly,
and I began to relax.

Dinner was lovely.
He  talked about the sights he had seen,
told me about a singing gentleman he had met,
about an old acquaintance he had run into.
Then he began to talk to me about
his time with the Lord.
I could see the peace on his face,
in his eyes.

I won't go into the details of our conversation that night,
the words are precious,
He'd had his version of my San Antonio miracle.
He was ready to move forward -
forward with our relationship -
forward with life not simply existence.

I admit it.
I have had a hard time writing this chapter of our love story.
You see, it was a scary chapter.
A chapter that gave both my Lanny Love and me pause.
I have written and rewritten this post numerous times.
I seriously considered skipping it all together.
But it's part of the story.
An important part!
The part where the choice was made.
Yes, he chose me.
But my Lanny Love chose far more than that!
And I know, because I had to make the same choice several months earlier.
My Lanny Love chose to live.

And I wanted you to know.
Not for my sake,
for I would prefer you not know that my Lanny Love
considered not choosing me.
It's painful,
a bit embarrassing.

No, I want you to know for you.
For those of you struggling,
wondering if it's worth it,
wondering if the pain ever eases,
wondering if healing really, truly happens,
wondering if you can ever be happy again.
I tell this chapter for you!

I want you to know that life is full of changes!
I want you to know change is never easy!
Not even when it is wonderful!
I want you to know that relationships have struggles,
growing pains,
even those we want and embrace.
I want you to know that
true love is forever.
You will never forget!
You will always miss them.
But I want you to know that in the midst of loss and grief,
love can come gently in,
catching you by surprise.
I want you to know that it's okay to step back,
examine your heart,
remember the past while dancing into the future.
I want you to know that God has purpose, a plan.
I want you to know that plan has both joy and sorrow.
I want you to know fighting through the emotions,
                     the grief,
                                                         the loss
is worth it!
I want you to know!
It's okay to remember!
To weep over the loss!
To cherish the memories!
Glances back are normal,
even healthy!

But we've learned not to live there,
not to let it wreck the here and now
where God has placed us,
the future he has planned for us.
My prayer for all of us is that we do this well!

I learned to trust that,
through God's grace,
something beautiful and new would emerge
even in the face of my 
and hopelessness.
I too would live again.

                                        ~~ Bethel Crockett ~~

And now on to part 4!