Good morning my friend,
How are you today? How was your weekend? Did you celebrate valentines day?
Mr C and I don’t really celebrate valentines day per se. Largely because our anniversary is 2 days later. Today in fact. 19 years today. It seems like such a life time of memories to celebrate. We are like an old pair of worn shoes that you love so much, that fit you so snugly. They aren’t pretty any more and the initial glow they used to have, and used to give you, has long gone. But my god how you love those shoes, the comfort on your feet – how they seem to wrap them and hold them, indeed hold you.
And it occurred to me that I may not have told you my love story. And today seemed like the perfect day to tell it.
When I was 25, (I’ve written about this before), my first husband, Mr B, passed away. He drowned in a scuba diving accident. He was 28. It was an awful thing to experience. I was so young. Death was as far removed from our plans as once could imagine. It was horrible and devastating. Miss J was just 16 months old.
The church where we held the funeral was packed. We had told the funeral director that around 50 would come, but over 200 people arrived. Mr B was very loved. My friend Ms J came to the funeral. But she had just lost her dad, so she asked an old boyfriend to accompany her. She was still good friends with him. He agreed to come. It was Mr C.
But, as Mr C tells it, his current girlfriend at the time wasn’t all that comfortable with him going to a funeral with his ex-girlfriend – and who can blame her – so she came along too.
And so there he was, Mr C, with his ex-girlfriend and current girlfriend, attending the funeral of his future wife’s dead husband.
I don’t remember him being there. I remember my friend Ms J, but not Mr C or Ms A.
Three weeks later I was invited to a birthday dinner. I didn’t want to go but my mom insisted. I think she felt I would die from the sadness in my heart and that perhaps just getting out might save me from that fate.
As soon as I entered the restaurant, I wanted to run home. All the people, the wanky music, the couples that seemed to be adorning every single table. It was all too much. As I arrived, I noticed that there were just four other people at the table – my friend and his girlfriend, who was celebrating her birthday, and Mr C and Ms A, his girlfriend.
I wanted to die. I prayed for the ground to open up and swallow me.
They seated me at the head of the table. I felt awkward. I was sure a sign had sprouted from my head screaming to everyone, “RECENT WIDOW OVER HERE!”
The two couples were lovely. Really lovely. I chatted to them and despite how awful it must have been for them, not knowing quite what to say, being astutely aware that I wasn’t with anyone and how that must have made me feel, they talked to me, and asked me how I was coping. They made me feel as lovely as I could feel in that moment.
Mr C and Ms A seemed like the perfect couple. They were living together. Blissfully happy.
The evening ended and I left, alone, to my lonely life.
As it happened, my friend and his girlfriend decided to get married and as it happened, Ms A, the girlfriend of Mr C, was making the bridesmaids dresses. My friend had asked for my daughter to be their flower girl. And so Ms A and I became quite friendly. She and Mr C were going through some troubles and I would commiserate with her at how awful he was being to her. “The Bastard!” I would say.
18 months passed. It was the 1995 world cup rugby, held in South Africa. I had attended the England/Italy match. I don’t remember who won – I hope it was England. Afterwards, my sister and I went to our favourite haunt in Durban. And who should I bump into but Mr C.
He and Ms A had parted ways. He now had another girlfriend, Ms C. I knew her. We were at the same school, though she was a year younger than I. Nothing serious he said, but by all accounts the lust was pretty steamy. I didn’t care. I couldn’t take my eyes off him. His eyes, his smile, his laugh. He was so easy to talk to, so warm, so sexy. So very very sexy.
“Remember, Sarah, you are off men,” my sister reminded me. The past 18 months had seen a small handful of men use and abuse me. It’s amazing how desperate men think you are when your husband dies. It’s amazing their sense of entitlement and subsequent anger when you refuse.
She was right. I was off men. But I couldn’t get him out of my mind.
For a brief moment, our hands met and the tingle I felt throughout my entire body I can still feel to this day.
So unexpected, so right.
A month passed. My phone rang. It was him. He and Ms C had not worked out (oh what a shame). Would I like to join him and a few friends at a new bar that was opening up in town. I agreed, hoping I didn’t sound too eager.
I arrived, butterflies in my stomach. There were 6 or 7 people in the group. Mr C appeared to be with yet another woman. My heart sank. It wasn’t to be, I told myself. He perhaps felt sorry for me, for my apparent loneliness. And then I got angry. Men! I hated them all.
I left early. Mr C and I spoke endlessly and effortlessly, but knowing he was with someone else was too much to bear. Another man had shown an interest in me and I thought perhaps it was worth pursuing.
The next day Mr C called.
“I’m so sorry you had to leave early. I’m having a BBQ at my house on Saturday, just a few friends, would you like to come.”
My mind was racing. Why was he pursuing me, insisting on inviting me if he had another girlfriend?
I reluctantly agreed, mainly because I was lonely and he told me some other friends I knew would be there.
That BBQ, he later told me, was a ruse. A safe way to invite me out on a date without the risk of actually asking me out on a date. He felt sure I wouldn’t be interested in him. There was only one other couple there. I asked him where his girlfriend was and he laughed. There was no girlfriend, he said. That woman was his friend’s girlfriend. He invited her because his friend was out of town and he thought it would be nice for her to get out. Mr C was always good like that. Always thinking of others.
Half way through the evening, he slipped his hand into mine and looked at me. We kissed. And we have never been apart since.
Six months later we were married and two months after that he adopted Miss J.
It has been a whirlwind of a marriage, full of happiness and tears and hope and fears, but always always filled with love.
He loves that we met at a funeral where he was with his ex-girlfriend and current girlfriend to meet his future wife. Such a good person is he, that none of his ex-girlfriends hate him. I am really good friends with three of them.
He loves to tell our children how, when he saw me walk into the church, so sad, so devastated, all he wanted to do is rush down the aisle, wrap his arms around me and tell me that it would be okay. As he tells it, when we met in that bar after the rugby, his heart skipped a beat and he knew, in that moment, he wanted to be with me. As he tells it, he found me, and was never letting me go.
And he never has.
My man, I love you. For all the years you have loved and nurtured my soul, I love you.