A year ago today I was happy.
My best friend asked me to marry him, and I looked forward to that life.
Earlier in the day we had fought because of my stupid jealousy over the girl before me and major insecurity issues. I had ruined a proposal opportunity a week earlier on the beach in Florida but didn’t even know it at the time. Same reasons — jealousy, insecurity, etc. But all those aside, I was happy about so many things. The best was yet to come, I thought.
Within two weeks I panicked and walked out. I denied at the time and for the greater part of the past year that walking out was what I did. But there’s no other way to describe it. Inside I felt like I just needed some time and space to get over the death of my marriage and the suicide of my husband, to adjust, to … excuses excuses. But what I did on the outside was walk away from a good person who was nothing but good to me and good to my sons. I explained and rationalized and justified — and granted, there were things to work through — but he was willing to work through them. I panicked and ran. I let anxiety and fear get the best of me.
It’s been a rocky year, one full of some ups and many downs and quite a few regrets.
Today, I went back to the place where he proposed and the place where I had hoped we would have our marriage ceremony. I spent some time there praying, thinking, meditating, and pondering things like what commitment really means to me if I could so easily walk away. I made a promise, and I broke it, and worse than that I attempted to explain it away with things like “well, I didn’t really make a promise” and “it was just an engagement” knowing full well what that meant to him, and trying to say that I had the right to change my mind.
I did make a promise, and I did break it. Even if I had the “right” to change my mind that doesn’t mean I should or that I have the right to hurt others in the process. Why should my prerogative to change my mind weigh more than another’s prerogative to not be hurt? And if hurt is unavoidable, there’s a right way and a wrong to do it, and I chose the worst way possible I believe. I have all my reasons and excuses but they don’t really amount to much when I sit here regretting the choices I made and the hurtful things I said and the end result of he and I not being together.
A year ago today I was happy.
Today, I was sad.
The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together. — Shakespeare
I used to get really mad at David’s ex-fiancee for not being “real” on her blog. She’d write about flowers and Scripture and going wonderful places and often say a certain day or event or time in her life was the best ever or that she was closer to God than she’d ever been, when in reality she and he had just broken up, or had just broken up again.
Maybe it was really like that for her. I was wrong to judge. I judged that certainly in the midst of break-ups and heartbreak and chaos and confusion it wasn’t all sunshine and sunflowers. I felt her blog was a dishonest representation of what was really going on with her, yet as I said I was wrong to judge both the content and motivations.
Yet what I’ve learned from that experience as it relates to my own blog is that if I want readers to trust me — and I do — and to absorb and believe and benefit from the words I write — which I also want — then I have to be honest even when honesty is ugly.
Does that meaning airing dirty laundry? Not necessarily. But on my blog I’ve chosen to open up a little window — and sometimes a gaping door — into my life and my world, and it’s not right, in my opinion, to only let happy good things show through.
I struggled with this after John died. What was I gonna do with my blog? Was I going to quit and take it down? Start a new one? Quit blogging altogether? I enjoyed it, but how do you keep blogging after someone dies, especially if they’ve taken their own life. People don’t want to read about all your personal problems, and I didn’t want people feeling more pity or sorry for me than they already did, ya know? I also remember thinking that people probably expect that I will never enjoy life again or to be down or depressed so if I write about having done something fun, what will they think then … and the chatter in my head went on and on.
As any of you who have read for a while will attest, I don’t leave out “the bad.” I’ve written often about what it’s like to be a widow, to be a young widow, to be a widowed mom, to be a single mom, and to be a single mom to boys and all the complications that come with those things.
But what I’ve neglected to address here for months is David.
Last you heard we got engaged, at the end of May. About three weeks later I told him I needed to take a step back from the engagement and the relationship because there was too much going on at once. I was just overwhelmed. That’s when I wrote the post Truth Serum.
A break wasn’t necessarily what either of us wanted, and we still don’t, but honestly guys, everything that has happened in both of our lives the last year and a half has been a lot to handle. At GriefShare they liken all the emotions at times like these to a big ball of knotted up yarn. You’re trying to untangle it and as you pull one string, one knot loosens and another one tightens. So then you go pull some strings around that one and the other knot is messed up again and now you’ve discovered a third one … and so on and so on. If you’ve ever tried to untangle yarn I think you know what I mean.
If I have yarn like that the simplest thing can sometimes be to just throw the whole thing in the trash and start over. But of course we can’t throw our life away and pick up a new one from the store. And where’s the lesson in that? It’s likely that my yarn will just get knotted all over aain.
Another option with balled-up yarn is to untangle as much as I can and cut off the part that’s just too hard. Again, though, that’s a lot of yarn to waste and doesn’t really address the problem. Getting rid of the problem is not addressing it.
So the best way is to patiently and painstakingly and carefully unravel the knots. That’s kinda how I view this “season” in my life as I’ve grown to call it lately. It’s a season because it will have an end, and during seasons we experience change.
No pictures I took could do it justice so here’s the ones from the jewelry store website.
Caden had a game Tuesday night at 6 o’clock. Games last one hour, plus getting together his gear, hearing the coach’s pep talk, etc. Making David’s improv show at 7:30 was going to be a long shot, but we decided try.
I texted David at about 7:17 that we were on our way, and I asked would there be seats for us (sometimes they pack the place out.) Yes, there were seats. We made it just a few minutes late and slid into three, front row seats.
After the show, roughly 8:20 or so, the boys were doing their usual post-show thing — discussing who was going to ride with David and who was going to ride with me. David said wait, would y’all like to go down to the water and feed the fish. He said he had some crackers in his car.
Now, I’m usually a party pooper at times like these — it’s the boys’ bed time, we’ve already been to the game, then the show, I kinda wanna get home — but decided a few minutes feeding the fish would be OK. It was a cool night and the boys were excited about what David had proposed. We fed the fish at the downtown spring and lake once before a show and it was a lot of fun of mainly David and I sitting on a bench and the boys running around at the ducks and fish.
We walk down to the waterside, we immediately see two ducks so David proceeds to give the boys bags of Goldfish crackers and Cheezits. I thought when he said he had crackers to feed the fish it was like old, stale crackers that maybe he’d found cleaning out his cabinets at home. These were new bags he had bought at a store. That shoulda been my first clue that something was up.
So David and the boys are a few yards away feeding ducks and fish and I sit down on the stairs that lead down to the water.
(Some events may be outta order here because things kinda happened quick and chaoticly at this point).
Caden is there asking if he can have a piece of candy from this orange Icebreakers candy box I recognize from David’s car. Sure, I say, I don’t care, and proceed to open it commenting that it sounds like it’s empty. What’s inside is a package of Taco Bell sauce that says “Will You Marry me” on it. I start laughing. I’d seen the packet before a long, long time ago, before David and I were serious or maybe before we were even dating. Finn approaches with another candy box — this one I recognize as a box that David had indicated a few weeks earlier he was storing my engagement ring in until he/I/we were ready. (We had shopped and picked it out together).
So this time I’m expecting to find the ring we picked out. But no, it’s a toy rubber engagement ring (that had even broke into two pieces). Joke’s on me right?
Until I realize that David is now sitting beside me and has the hand farthest from me hidden from sight and he’s trying to talk to me while sending the boys back to feed fish. The boys weren’t buying it. So he asked with them there — “Will you marry me” — to which I said “I will” and to which the boys said “yay” and jumped up and down. He put the ring on my finger and it glittered and shined beautifully in the soft streetlight and moonlight.
The distraction of the ring and of David kept me from noticing that Caden had opened the packet of HOT Taco Bell sauce and was sucking it out of the packet. He announced “I ate this!” to which we all cracked up laughing and I said “The 5 year old slurped the proposal!” He then gave a slurp to Finn, offered some to me and then to David. It was a taco sauce toast!
So there you have it. David and I are engaged. We’ve received lots of congratulations as we’ve told those close to us. We’re happy and the boys are happy and we all look forward to what comes next.