“There are many forms of love as there are moments in time, and you are capable of feeling them all at different stages of your life.” ― Shannon L. Alder
There was an avalanche in my mind. In that moment, a deluge of Rocky memories flooded my consciousness; our first night together, our wedding, the birth of our son, his accident and death. It was an instant and an hour all at once. Entwined in those flashbacks were the persistent moments of feeling alone, of unrelenting struggle, of continuous fear that my dreams would never manifest. I instantaneously reeled back from and moved into the idea of making a life with this man in front of me. I thought of my list and how he fit each item that I had asked the universe to deliver in the form of a man. I recalled Francis’s question about getting a ‘new daddy’ and remembered that I was soon turning 30.
I said “yes”.
The moment was surreal. We both laughed nervous laughs and spent a second or two chiding ourselves for being there – in that predicament – but concurrently rejoicing in possibilities. There were enough similarities that we both – in unison – zeroed in on them and began to imagine the blueprint that would guide the rest of our lives.
Later that night, after the insanity of our evening had been absorbed, we called family members to share our news. One of his brothers asked if he was stoned, another said “who?” and his youngest sibling said “it’s about time, tell Sandra we said hello”. Excuse me? Sandra?? Um… did I miss something?
It came out that he had been dating a woman for the last several years and had yet to mention me to his relatives. I later found out that he didn’t end that relationship until he went home from this particular weekend. Maybe he was hedging his bets. It was one of many overt caution lights that I subconsciously chose to ignore.
He went home and returned a week later. In the interim, there were similar late night discussions that lasted into wee morning hours and ended with me calling E. There were more flower deliveries and plenty of nerves. He asked my ring size.
He returned on Friday, August 12th. Exactly two weeks from that first smile across a dance floor 200 miles north. He came bearing gifts but first, we had an important milestone to bear. Together, we went to pick Francis up from daycare. It was close to closing so there were few cars in the parking lot. I went in, signed him out, and we stepped outside to see this new guy in my life leaning against the car, arms crossed, waiting.
Francis was pretty a pretty typical 5-year-old, running in circles, showing off his excellent stopping short skills and then talking nonstop until we arrived home. I made dinner and we sat there – the three of us – at a glass table, making small talk while we attempted to include Francis in the stiff dialogue in which we were engaged. It wasn’t all that child friendly, in fact I wondered for a moment if this man I had agreed to marry would in fact, make a suitable surrogate for my son. I think we were all just very, very pensive about this new family unit that was being birthed there – that evening.
The gifts were presented… a beautiful delicate watch “to record our time together”, a bottle of Dom Perion so that we “could celebrate with something relative to the importance of our union”, and a ring; a beautiful three quarter carat marquee diamond surrounded by baguettes. It was phenomenal. Because he had asked, it was sized correctly and slipped on my left hand ring finger without difficulty. We were officially ‘engaged’. I recall stacking Billy Joel CD’s into the CD player and lighting candles while I moved from staring at my ring to staring into his eyes and wondering what life had in store for me this time. I was slightly afraid to be happy.
The next morning, we all got in my car and headed 2 hours south to Virginia where my mom and stepdad lived with my twin sisters. It was their 13th birthday. We adults hibernated in my stepdad’s office while he interrogated my betrothed unmercifully about his intentions. They were skeptical and when we were alone, fiercely argued that he was TOO charming. That something was amiss. The twins were bluntly annoyed that we had crashed their celebration so we tried to abbreviate the visit and engage in birthday celebrations. I had been warned.
Our next unveiling was a couple of weeks later when I was presented to his family. It wasn’t necessarily a demure event, it was a graduation celebration for one of his brothers and so there was a large representation of extended family to greet me as I was introduced into the clan. Most family members had had an opportunity to resolve their initial shock but some still demonstrated stunned reactions when they realized we were engaged and I wasn’t Sandra. By the end of August, we each had met the family on both sides – with the exception of my dad and stepmom who lived in Ohio – and we had settled into a routine of weekend visits. Work was going to be problematic because I was a manager and that wasn’t an option if I transferred into the Philadelphia region; I’d have to go back into sales.
I really struggled with this decision. I had worked tremendously hard to be a branch office manager and although I wasn’t killing any records, we were on the right track. My new fiancé was definitely the larger earner between us so it made sense for me to make a move. My boss and I agreed that there was only one option if I didn’t want sales. An opportunity to take over an office in New Jersey, about an hour away from where we would be living, had opened up (hmm…the universe was working?). That in place, we began looking for a home.
It wasn’t long before we found a townhouse in the city of Wilmington, DE. It was new construction in an old part of town and it could be ready by the end of November. I arranged to move as quickly as possible so that Francis could start 1st grade as soon after the beginning of the year as possible. Life was moving incredibly fast – at light speed and I was beginning to have difficulty keeping up.
It seemed as though there was a life emerging that I was only able to observe. It was happening as if on auto-pilot. I was aware and making decisions, but very much like the day I was forced to make funeral arrangements, I was just moving forward as if I had been set on a track with only one direction. I didn’t question what was happening as I believed in the law of attraction – in my list – I believed that God was answering a prayer for me so I went with it and allowed it to develop into an energy and like the gulf stream – it carried me away.
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