But it’s still strange to think of the dozens of times we probably sat in the same church service, stood in the same room, or attended an all-school assembly without knowing that some someday, these two strangers would end up, well…us.
As the weeks drew on and many of us, Sean included, became better friends and spent a lot of time together outside of work, I found myself trying unsuccessfully to deny the fact that I may have had a little crush growing on this boy, who, did I mention, was in a relationship with his high school sweetheart?!?!
Then, sometime in late fall, it happened. My phone rang and on the other end Sean’s defeated voice announced that he and his girlfriend broke up. We spent that night with friends, me trying desperately to cheer him up and refusing to admit that I could be such an evil person that a tiny little part of me was happy about this.
But sometimes things fall into place whether you expect them to or not; and life changes, whether you want it to or not. On a cold night in December, I hugged Sean goodbye outside my parents’ house and he kissed me. And I was forever changed.
We dated casually (and mostly in secret) throughout the winter. I spent a lot of time with his family, but we were still afraid of what they (or our coworkers) would think of him dating an “older woman.” Eventually, our relationship simply progressed into common knowledge and it seemed, for the most part, that no one judged us for the age gap. I even attended his senior prom—going back to my high school at 21 years old!
When it came time for him to leave for college, I was a mess. I was terrified about what the 150 mile difference would do to us. The day we dropped him off was bittersweet—he told me he loved me for the first time but I was still leaving him to an entirely different life. I’d be lying if I told you those 9 months were anything close to easy for us. But we saw each other as often as we could, sent cards and letters and packages to each other, and pushed through it. At the end of the school year, he decided to transfer to a school back home that had better options for his intended career in law enforcement.
Being in the same city definitely helped our relationship grow (though it certainly didn’t make us immune to challenges). In the fall of 2008, we moved in together, and in the spring of 2010, we bought our first home,
It’s been six and a half years since that day I walked back into my elementary school child care center and sat across the table from a high schooler who turned out to be my soul mate. In that time, we’ve gone to hell and back. We’ve survived long distances, tragedy and loss (including the unexpected death of his dad in 2009), and so many of life’s happiest and hardest moments. Having come this far, I’m convinced we can handle whatever might come our way. I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for us!
Life can feel unpredictable and undependable at times. And that’s usually what makes it so exciting. But sometimes it feels like it would just be nice to know how things turn out—to what when to expect something, to know that everything is going to turn out ok. And then I remember stories like ours.