Five years ago today, I was on I-70 heading East from Kansas City to Columbia, anxiously awaiting an amazing evening and first official date that had been building up for months after wonderful exchanges on Facebook, email, texts and phone calls with a man who would eventually become my husband. We were introduced via Facebook by a mutual friend. At the time, my heart was still fragile after it had been shattered into a million pieces by my wasband, who left me for a very good friend (now ex-friend) and neighbor, and Jason’s heart was still broken after the loss of his first wife Sarah. Wow was I nervous.
The fact that we lived two hours apart early on was probably a good thing. It forced us to take things slow from the physical perspective and to really get to know each other. We both had healing to do. But as I drove my car down the highway that day, listening to our J&K playlist (yes, even though we were almost 40, apparently we thought we were high schoolers – creating play lists of songs that reminded us of each other), I could hardly contain my excitement.
I felt like a young girl ready for her first date. I was just hoping the real thing was as good as the virtual thing. I was scared to death. I was almost 40, recently divorced, a breast cancer survivor with scars - which led to many other insecurities - and had never really dated since I had married my high school sweetheart. And now here I was having to go on a first date again.
I wasn’t disappointed. The picture is at Stephens Lake Park, where we met for the start of an amazing first date. It was awesome. A chilly fall night in Missouri. Sun going down. Walking hand-in-hand along the trail. Sitting on a park bench talking, hugging to keep warm. Followed by great sushi, live music, and a little making out that had us probably looking like teenagers, even though we were almost 40. I remember this moment from five years ago like it was yesterday. It was everything I had dreamed about.
That first date took me on a journey I never thought would be possible again after my heart had been broken. That first date turned into dozens of dates, deep conversations, tears, laughs, a marriage, a blended family, and a love that is still going strong five years later. And hopefully, my last first date.
It hasn't always been easy. The challenges of me loving a widower, him loving someone who had been so deeply betrayed, and the everyday struggles of co-parenting with an ex and step-parenting creates tough conversations, hurt feelings and tears at times. But I would say our relationship is deeper, our love deeper, because of what we have both been through. We see through the bullshit, we focus on what matters, and most of all we love the crap out of each other, our kids and our life. So it may not be easy, but it's been so worth it.
And marriage is never easy. You have to fight for it - every single day. We have done our best to blend a family with broken hearts - with love, support, laughs, tears and then some more love - allowing us all to grieve and heal as we continue to mend while we blend. All because two people were willing to take a risk and open their hearts after they had been broken, and go on what will hopefully be their last first date.
So to others out there whose hearts are broken, know that you can find love again. But you have to be willing to take risks after hurt, after betrayal, after loss, after heartbreak. In doing so, you may discover an even more beautiful life than you ever thought possible.
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