It took a while after stepping into widowhood to begin thinking about dating and possibly remarriage.
Being an obsessive list-maker, I drafted an inventory of what was important to me: A man who is family oriented, active outdoors, someone who is making a difference in the lives of others.
And then a friend counseled: “You don’t want to limit God to a list.” So, I filed it away.
In time, I went out with a couple different men, but eventually decided that dating wasn’t for me.
But then, Maybe I can do this.
Followed by, Nope, too complicated.
A regular roller coaster ride.
As brave as I like to think I am, I suspect it was fear that fueled this particular roller coaster.
On a hike through snow-covered hills last winter, I finally admitted my fears and spoke them out loud to God.
Among other things, I was afraid the man wouldn’t understand that my writing is a calling and requires time and effort.
I was afraid he might not understand how my deceased husband’s family is just as much my family as my blood relatives—that these are my nieces and nephews, these sisters-in-law are the sisters I never had while growing up sandwiched between two brothers.
I was afraid of change. Transitioning into a married life after being comfortably and contentedly single sounded scary.
William Bridges said this:
We resist transition not because we can’t accept the change, but because we can’t accept letting go of that piece of ourselves that we have to give up.
Did I really want to lose my independence? My ability to say, “Yes, I’d love to go to Israel with you,” “Yes, I’ll meet you on the Outer Banks,” “Yes, I’ll come to Mexico to help celebrate your husband’s birthday” ?
Hence, roller coasters.
And then … Dan.
We met over an interview for the shower truck story. The conversation naturally turned to our similar experiences as cancer caregiver and widow/er.
He thanked me for listening.
I said, “Anytime.”
And he took me up on it.
Our conversations continued over hiking and Chai tea and snowshoeing and a concert and dinners out and more hiking and more Chai tea.
It just happened. I hadn’t planned on it, but I grew to love this good man.
Not too long ago, I stumbled upon that old “dating qualities” list in an online file.
Ironically, Dan fit each item, even this one: “Romantic in a thoughtful way, not in a spend-lots-of-money way.”
The last item on that list was cancer widower. It wasn’t a deal breaker, but still … when I wrote it, I was thinking how nice it would be to partner with someone who had trekked through the same harsh wilderness I had. One more thing in common.
Dan is a rescuer of people with dead batteries and leaky faucets, and sweet elderly ladies who need a man’s fix-it powers.
He’s the co-designer, builder, towel washer, and one of the drivers for the shower truck that serves the homeless. He volunteers at Ochoco Christian Conference Center on maintenance projects.
He enjoys hiking, camping, snowshoeing, kayaking, canoeing, mountain biking, and snorkeling (previously a scuba diver)—and I’m having fun trying to keep up with him.
Dan also refurbishes vintage motorcycles (I’ve officially been outfitted with a black leather jacket and helmet).
There is dust gathering in his easy chair at his house.
Last Sunday, this kind, thoughtful, big-hearted man said, “Here,” as we stood warming our hands in front of the woodstove at a friend’s cabin on the Metolius River. “You’ll need to set your tea down.”
He took my hands in his, and looked me in the eye, and listed all the reasons he believes we belong together.
And then he asked me to marry him. (I said Yes rather joyfully, in case you’re wondering!)
Wow. Just … wow.
This isn’t about not wanting to do Friday date night alone.
This is about partnering with a teammate headed in the same direction in life, a best friend who loves adventure, a man who enjoys giving his time in helping make life a little easier for people going through hard places.
Jake Canfield writes:
Everything you want is on the other side of fear.
I am in the process of transitioning toward marriage, toward belonging heart and soul to a good man.
I am not losing anything—not my freedom, not my independence, not … anything.
Rather, I’m gaining someone who will venture out with me, someone I can serve alongside.
And there is no fear anywhere near—oh, miracle!
What if we could conduct an honest search of our hearts to determine if there’s something we’re a little afraid of?
And what if we could name those fears out loud—to God, to someone we trust?
Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. … Do not be afraid. – John 14:27
This is me, choosing not to be afraid as I transition away from a single life that was comfortable and familiar.
This is me, hanging on tightly to this good man. Because I have a suspicion the ride is about to get deliriously fun and wildly purposeful.