Things have changed a lot.
A few of you have expressed curiosity about changes on my facebook and my life but have been hesitant to ask.
My family has been through a lot in the last 20 months.
Let me start “near” the end…
In June 2017 Cricket and I celebrated our 25th anniversary. Some of you may recall the post I wrote happily telling the story of how we met.
Then everything went sideways for the kids and I. Late July I’d discovered Cricket wanted to separate and wasn’t interested in fixing our marriage. She moved out that day, thus ending our sharing a home. We approached divorce sad and broken, but as a team. No lawyers. All went fast and well.
I was angry at God, hopeless and defeated. My mom was here that week and a few of good friends Karin, Morgan, and Hans and Liz stepped up “daily” walking me through the darkness.
Willow (my 16 yr old daughter) was in Spain that summer with Sofia, the mom of her friends Madi and Ryan. Willow came home in early August to an emptier and very melancholy home.
Ola, a Norwegian foreign exchanged high school student, was on his way for a year of school in America. We told him what going on and suggested he find a new host family, but after talking with Willow, he decided he wanted to come to our home anyway. Thank god Ola stayed. He arrived just days after Cricket’s departure. The wounds were fresh for us, but he was on an adventure. Honestly, he saved us. He played with Rowan and kept him positive and was a stoic shoulder for Willow to cry on and vent. He got Willow out doing things and kept her busy and social. All three kids were terrific. We functioned, and actually, it worked quite well. Rowan switched to a closer school, riding his bike and making his lunches. He grew up a lot that year and learned to self manage.
God didn’t stop the tsunami, but He was right there with us to help us to survive it. I just couldn’t see it yet.
Dec. 11 of that year, was the last day of my marriage. I can’t express the depth of my loss, regret, anger, and pain. I felt more alone than ever with no light at the end of the tunnel.
As Dec came to a close Willow’s friend Madi called her, upset. Her mom’s company had sold, and their stay in Spain was expiring. She’d sold almost everything to move overseas and had cut most ties in the US thus didn’t have anywhere to go. Willow asked if they could stay with us. I said no because I didn’t think it was appropriate. She had gone through a similar marital situation, although estranged for years, she wasn’t quite finished with the legalities of entirely separating. But I left the door open in case she really couldn’t find another solution. Eventually, Sofia called me herself and timidly asked for help. Something very much not in her nature. I conferred with Cricket as she’d known Sofia since the girls were in 7th grade and was pleased to have her around our kids.
Sofia, Ryan, and Madi arrived on Dec. 30, 2017. The girls had been friends for years, but this was the first day I’d ever met Sofia. I hugged them all and welcomed them into our home. She and her son shared my home office, and Madi bunked with Willow. I can’t say how nice it was to have an adult back in the house, someone to talk to and manage the kids. I could finally take a nap again. More kids made it busier, and the loneliness receded a little each day.
I was trying my luck at Match (online dating), and it was wild, to say the least. I hadn’t dated in over a quarter of a century and didn’t date much before that. Sofia was great, helping me with attire and giving me practice questions to ask. She would wait for me to come home and we’d debrief. She continued the arduous process of looking for a furnished place to live at the wrong time of year for Phoenix.
Life moved forward.
We both worked remotely and started going to the gym and grocery store together, making dinner and just hanging out and a lot of talking. It was fun to have someone to do stuff with and share responsibilities. I was a gentleman and did my best to be a good host and friend, managing my kids, Ola and integrating her kids into our oddly cobbled together family. All was well. Life was pretty good, considering. We even picked up another kid, Ayden who lived with for several months while his mom tried to salvage a relationship that ultimately failed.
Sofia didn’t cross my mind as “a dating option.” She was still “legally” married, and I wouldn’t cross that line, years of estrangement or not. Our marriages had ended on similar notes, and we’d bonded over sharing our anger, pain, and regrets. We became close. Real friends. Nothing more.
However, our daughters had other plans…
As the online dates came and went and the days rambled by, I found being a family with Sofia notably natural and considerably enjoyable, we worked well as a team. The paperwork of her divorce eventually concluded, and she had yet to find a place to live.
I went on my last Match date with a teacher named Jennifer. She was pretty and friendly and had been remarkably honest in her profile. No surprises. 🙂
We had a great hike, talked and enjoyed the morning. When the date concluded, I headed home. I called Willow as per our usual. She asked me about the date, and…
I told her, “We might have a problem.”
Perplexed, she asked, “What problem?”
I told her the date was great, but all during the hike, I’d wished I had gone to Costco with Sofia. Willow squealed, “I knew it!” She yelled for Madi.
That day and I remember it well, (if you’ve seen The Truman Show, this will resonate.) I supposed I was the main character in a fictional romantic comedy where everyone in the audience was rooting for me to figure it out dumbfounded as to why I hadn’t seen it yet or how I could be so oblivious to what was right in front of my eyes. Sofia was a gift, pure and simple. Ideal for me and I for her. We were each the spouse we’d prayed and longed for our first spouses to be.
I bought a ring soon after and oddly Cricket was the first person I showed it too. I was going to ask this other woman to step in her kid’s lives, and it seemed right to get her consent. She smiled and cried, hugged me and laughed and cried and laughed and cried again. I can’t fathom what she was feeling or thinking, but she seemed very happy for us.
The rest is a story is yet to unfold. 🙂