One week has passed since I gave birth to my son Jax, and today, I will bury my husband. As “Knockin’ on Heavens Door” bounces off the walls of the Baptist church, I think back on our wedding day. Red roses, greenery, and candles surrounded us. It was a beautiful day, filled with so much love and new beginnings. I never could have imagined that almost 11 years later, I would sit in the same church and be forced to say goodbye. I hold our infant close as I look upon his father’s casket. “This can’t be real,” I tell myself. It’s the same line I’ve been telling myself for days.
Justin and I married in 2003, when I was 20 and he was 22. We were young, in love, and so full of hopes and dreams. Our wedding was definitely on the larger side, with a wedding party of 15 and a headcount close to 400. After all, we had looked forward to our wedding day for more than six years.
Today, the memories of our wedding are still pretty vivid, and I am grateful for that. But it’s the memories of his funeral that seem to stick in my mind the most. The church that once brought me so much happiness now only brings pain. It’s been four years since I lost Justin, and I still cannot bring myself to be inside those walls.
The day after Justin’s funeral, someone asked me a question that I will never forget: “Do you think you will ever remarry?” I was completely caught off guard and found this question totally inappropriate. Not only was it way too soon for me to be pondering this sort of thing, but I’d never even considered the possibility of being with anyone else. But for whatever reason, I answered. “I think so,” I responded. I couldn’t believe my own words! Justin hadn’t been gone a week and I already knew deep down that I wanted to find love again. Was I brave or was I just another fool?
Falling in love as a 14-year-old girl was one thing, but falling in love as 33-year-old widow is quite another.
A year and a half later, I am all dolled up on a Friday night. My long blond hair is pinned back on the sides, and my red lips are lined to perfection. The Red Bar isn’t a fancy establishment, but I am 99.9 percent sure that my recent crush will be sitting at our table. Don and I were are past coworkers, and when I discovered he was back on the market, I encouraged my friend Melissa to play matchmaker. I spot our group at the back of the bar with an empty seat next to Don. His baby blues glisten from across the room. Our chemistry is instantaneous, and I feel pretty sure that we will be kissing by the end of the night. But Don is a gentleman and tries nothing of the sort. He gets my phone number and promises to call the next day.
The following morning, I feel ecstatic to awaken to a text from an unfamiliar phone number. “I had a good time last night,” it says. “Would you like to go out for dinner soon? This time I’ll be your chauffeur.” And with that, we plan our first official date.
It was 19 months after Justin died that I began seeing Don. Our history with one another seemed to strengthen our chemistry, and our conversations were a breeze. He’s the kind of guy that many women hope to fall in love with. He opened my doors, bought me flowers, paid for my meals, and held me close when we kissed. To go with a cliched term, he swept me off my feet. The only problem with him sweeping me off of my feet was that my feet were still pretty wet. I wasn’t emotionally ready for anything serious, and Don had to discover this the hard way.