Friday, 7 March 2014

Let me tell you a love story

Let me tell you a love story.  Get settled – it’s a long one.

This isn’t a “Once upon a time” kind of love story, and it’s not the kind of story that Hollywood script writers will come chasing.  But this is a love story about two people who, despite a (pardon me) shit storm swirling around them, managed to stay together, get married, have a baby, scrape enough money together to buy a house and fall more deeply in love with each other as time passes.  It is not always a pretty love, but it is deep, it is real, it is honest, loyal and unwavering.

This is my husband’s and my story.

2007 was a horrible year.  I won’t go into details, but my heart was broken, abused and used by more than one person that year.  I was pretty damaged.  But one good thing from 2007 was Facebook, and a new  friend at work called Mitchel (not his real name because I haven’t told him I’m writing this!).

I’d just come back from Canada and had written a series of travel stories on a clunky old laptop my best friend in Canada had given me for the purpose.  I went to the IT department at work searching for a “floppy disk” (hold the laughter, thanks!) to save the stories on so I could move them into the system.  And the cute IT guy I had seen power-walking around the office for the past year just happened to be the kind gentleman who helped me.  He introduced me to the new and wonderful world of memory sticks!  And probably had a good laugh at my expense after I left the office.  And because he was the cute IT guy and I was interested, I made him chocolate muffins the next day to say thank you.  It took him three days to pluck up the courage to say thank you as he zipped past my desk!

Facebook was new, and a guy with an obscure profile picture sent me a friend request, and as we all did back then, I added him without a thought.  It was the cute IT guy!  We started to get to know each other online and became friends – at least in the online sense.  We actually didn’t talk to each other much face-to-face!  Being the classic over-sharer that I am, over time I managed to give him the cliff notes of my brokenness.  He didn’t run away.  He kept talking to me.  He was definitely confused by me and my over-sharing, but we became pretty good online friends.  Not long after, I wasn't "available" any more and because I'd decided at the beginning Mitchel wasn't romantically interested in me, we just became work buddies.

I was ‘Christian curious’ and it turned out Mitchel was a good and Godly man.  I didn't think they actually existed!  He invited me to his church a few times but I always turned him down.   Then in December the guy I thought I was going to marry broke up with me.  I just wanted to crawl into a hole and never come out.  I felt more broken than ever!  I didn’t tell Mitchel because it was too big a piece of news for a workmate friendship and I didn’t want him to see or hear me that upset.  I fell into my family’s arms, particularly my dad’s.

Mitchel called me for the very first time just before Christmas to wish me a merry Christmas because he wouldn’t be in the office over the break.  I actually ran out of the shower to answer the phone and answered it sans clothing, dripping wet!  (Note to the reader: if you do that, be wise and bring a towel with you.)  Afterwards, I thought that was a really kind thing for him to have done.  But don’t guys only call girls they like?

In the few work days between Christmas and New Year, Mitchel asked me to come to his church again.  And this time I said yes.  I was so hurt, lost, confused and damaged I thought why not!  “I’ll just slip in, sit up the back and slip out again before he sees me.”  But it didn’t quite pan out that way.  I cried in church.  Really ugly crying.  All the hurt started to come out - of every facial orifice!  I didn’t bring any tissues with me and only had my glasses cloth (that got thrown away!).  Thankfully Mitchel missed the worst of it, but found me after church and walked the now-calm me back to my car, in the rain.  And he hugged me.

Around New Years, I told my sisters and brother about this cute guy at work that I kinda sorta liked, but that he’d never be into a girl like me.  And I’d just had my heart broken.  I thought I wasn’t “good” enough for Mitchel.  He was Godly and I was not. I was damaged goods.  He deserved a good woman without my station-wagon-load of baggage.  He deserved a pretty girl who went to his church every Sunday.   Then he sent me a text message at midnight on New Year’s Eve, and even though it was a group message, I thought it strange that he included me in it.  “I think perhaps he might like me,” I thought with an unsure smile before rolling over and going back to sleep.

When work resumed a few days after New Year, he plucked up the courage to ask me more about what had happened before Christmas that had upset me so much, and I gave him the details.  And the end of that conversation went something like this:
“So, I have a really bad habit of talking a lot but I’m never sure if I’m actually making any sense or getting to my point, so let me just say, I really like you, and if you ever wanted to ask me out on a date, I’d think that was really nice and say yes.”  Smooth as sandpaper!  
And that night he asked me to coffee!  And on that coffee date, where we played a game of UNO (and I still remember exactly what I was wearing), he asked if he could court me.  Are you serious?!?!  This good and Godly guy wants to COURT… me?!?  Had I stumbled from 2008 to 1908?  Wow!  My knees went a little weak.

We started looking out for each other’s cars in the carpark at work, and my heart would do a little skip when I saw him walk in of a morning.  I felt like my day would be better if he was there.  He came over to my desk sometimes to chat and would blush horribly, or I’d make my jelly legs take me to his office.   We spent most of our first dates walking along the beach after work just talking.  They were fun dates.  They only last four weeks.

Then my world really did fall apart.  After 41 years of marriage, my dad left us for another woman.  I was on a date with Mitchel when my oldest sister called to tell me.  I just dissolved into tears, in public, with a new boyfriend I’d barely started seeing.  Bam.  I wanted him to take me back to the work carpark so I could get my car and go home.  But he drove me home, helped me up the stairs, made me tea, got me tissues and just let me cry and snot all over him.  I kept telling him to leave – this was too real, too big, too painful; he didn’t need to be a part of it and should run for the hills.  But he didn’t run.  He cancelled a weekend full of plans to drive me to the city to be with my family – across the other side of the city to pick up one sister, all the way back across the big city to my mum’s in the driving rain, squeezed my hand and quietly back his car away and drove off.  He would stay away until I called him.

And he came, held my hand and never let go – through all the mess, tears, snot, anger, confusion, hurt, hostility, he held my hand.  Back home, he kept walking with me on the beach, even at night through the sea foam to make me squeal and laugh.  I saw dolphins breach in the moonlight on the ocean.

I got a job in the city as soon as I could so I could be with mum, and just before I moved, he proposed, down on one knee, in the rain on the beach where we had all those wonderful first dates.  He asked if I would grow old with him.

On our second wedding anniversary, we left hospital with our beautiful daughter.  And today is our fifth wedding anniversary.  I can say unequivocally that I love my husband more now than when we got married.   He is messy, and grumpy when he’s tired or hungry or hasn’t had his coffee, but he loves me wholly and completely.  He’s seen me at my best and worst (and I mean worst!) and he’s never let go of my hand.  And you know what?  I’ve never let go of his either.

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