When people think of me, risk-taker would not be the first adjective that comes to mind. Funny, extrovert, talkative, worrier, careful, cautious (emphasis on the words worrier and cautious), those are what I am known for amongst family and friends. So when I told people I was marrying the man I had only met 2 months prior, SHOCK (to say the least) was the adjective to describe everyone’s reaction. I was only 1.5 years widowed with 2 young children. What was I thinking! Well, for once I actually took a risk. I, for a lack of a better cliche’, let go and let God…literally.
Paul was introduced to me by my mother…yes…my mother! We met at a concert they had just performed at what is now my church in Atlanta. She felt we would have a lot in common and would at least develop a nice friendship. She knew I was lonely. She knew I was scared to enter the world of dating again after being with the same man for nearly 20 years. Paul was recently divorced, a nice, “regular guy” as my mother described him. He was a singer (like me), smart, and had a good job; all of the things a mother would like for her daughter. But would he spark my interest. Would he light that fire a girl always dreams of when she dreams of the perfect man?
So here we were in a church with my mother, sister and a few friends in the center aisle of the gothic sanctuary after the concert. I am about to meet this man my mother says is “nice” and a “regular guy”. Those words are the kiss of death! I’m nervous, lord knows what he must be feeling. My first sight of him was in his BRIGHT red robe he still had on from the concert. He came walking down the aisle, hugged my mother, turned to me and said, “Hi. I’m Paul. Nice to meet you.” He was cute! After a bit of small talk my mother suggests that he join us (my mother, sister and 4 of our friends) for drinks. I was shocked he said yes. How awkward for him to be surrounded by these curious onlookers who were obviously sizing him up. That was my first glimpse into the man I would fall in love with and marry. He was confident with who he was as a person.
Drinks went as expected…my sister grilled him, small talk abounded, pleasantries exchanged. I enjoyed his company even amidst the awkwardness. As we left the restaurant and were saying goodbye, I walked toward him to shake his hand and asked if he would like to be friends on Facebook, to which he replied yes. It was my first real risk. I felt it in my heart that this was right. We began to “talk” through Facebook and eventually Skype every day up until our first official date. Paul and I really got to know one another through those conversations. Would we have anything to talk about on our first date?
I remember dropping my kids off at my mother’s for the night and driving down to the restaurant feeling nervous. Do I look ok? Will he like my outfit? Is my hair in place? What am I going to say when I see him for the first time? Should I hug him, shake his hand, what? It was like I was a teenager again, except this time I was 36 with two kids and a hell of lot of baggage. What if he just decides I’m not worth the trouble? All of those fears went away in an instant the moment I saw him standing in front of the restaurant. He had a sweet smile on his face and gave me a great big hug. The night continued to be as smooth, relaxing and right. We talked all through dinner and found we had a lot in common…more than superficial things like politics, running and music. We connected on a deeper level. I felt comfortable with him. It was like we had known each other for years. We were so comfortable with each other that our date that began at 7pm finally ended at 1am. I felt that spark, that fire. This was what every girl dreams of and here I was living the dream! I knew Paul was THE “one”. How after just one meeting and a date did I know this…I was leading with my heart for the first time and not reason.
Reason ruled my life and after what I had just been through over the last 3 years, I decided life was too short to live by reason alone. I wasn’t living before, just existing. Existing was not what I wanted my children to learn from me. They needed to see me living and enjoying my life so they could do the same. Oddly enough, with what Paul endured during his divorce, he had come to the very same conclusion. We had met just at the right time…our very own “God moment”. So long story short, after many, many dates, Skype conversations, texting, talking and a wonderful vacation on Saint Simons, Paul asked me to marry him. I said yes of course and although people were initially shocked, it soon turned to joy as they saw both of us deeply in love with one another, happy and already one. My children were thrilled. They took an instant shine to Paul. He was gentle, kind and curious and they responded to that.
On December 12, 2010 in Virginia Highlands, I married the love of my life in a small ceremony surrounded by our family and closest friends. Each day that goes by, my love for him grows deeper. It has transformed me. I am happier and healthier than I have ever been. My children are finally feeling stable and part of a functioning nuclear family. Neither Paul and I regret our pasts nor have we forgotten them. How can you? We have embraced our pasts and made them part of our future. We have learned and grown from our pasts. The past is what has shaped who we are today. The past has allowed us to transform. The past is what allowed me to take a risk and find the love of my life.
Life is full of risks. Sometimes you need to listen to your heart and leap. Fear is a dangerous thing, it can rule your life. I let it rule mine for years. Today I am still fearful of things but am more willing to take a risk and try something new even if I fail. Fear of failure is huge for me. So what if I fail, I’m human. We all fail at times. Failure is part of life. As Paul always says, we need to continue to grow as people. The minute you stop growing, you die inside. My choice to risk my heart and be left again was the biggest risk I have ever taken. I had no idea where it would lead but I had hope and faith that it would lead to something wonderful. Love. I was right. The risk was worth taking. My next “risk” is graduate school. I am terrified to make this leap. Again, what if I fail? But, I am coming to terms with that. I need to do this for myself. I need to continue growing and evolving. Is this risk worth taking? You bet it is! I’m diving in head first.
Thank you, Paul, my love, for loving me for me and being by my side holding my hand when I leap. You are my precious miracle from God. I love you!