Starting over romantically in my 40’s was something I never guessed would actually happen.
I must say though, that it was delightful, magical and straight out of a chick flick. Look at the photos. I’m beaming with joy. Literally. That’s the look of a woman who won life’s lottery. I know… I sound obnoxious, but I still can’t find a way to contain or minimize my glee about this man!
The whole thing, even up to today is so romantic. I feel like I deserve it now. It’s been 2 ½ years we’ve been together, and that’s enough time to have some perspective on what went down between the two of us. It was and is still amazing to me. If I ever got on Oprah I would probably jump on a couch and tell her how happy I am with him, how crazy in love.
We did everything backward. We dated prior to my 2 ½ year divorce being officially final. I became SHOCKINGLY pregnant at 44, then we got engaged. When the baby was eight months old we got married.
It is the most screwball story, but it works so, so well for our family of seven.
Thinking back, I was so incredibly freaked out about my future in December 2014. I have to give you a little peek into the crazy.
I had finally put my foot down and asked my ex-husband for a divorce and felt like I had been very clear with my intentions to move forward with that.
We had Mia living with us from the Orange County foster care system. At that time, we were both intending on adopting her so I knew that it was going to take some figuring out.
I was in no hurry to have the divorce finalized, I just knew that it was a “for sure” thing. I wasn’t playing games for attention. I was done.
Ex asked me for some time, did not want to tell his family or have me tell my family. For sure neither one of us were ready to tell the kids. There was just too much up in the air that the kids would have questions about.
Things like where we would each live? Where would the kids live? Would we sell the house? Lots of hard questions and no simple answers.
Six weeks after our separation, Ex took off in February 2015 to Nashville for two weeks with his band. It was a very welcome break because we were continuing to cohabitate and the kids were asking questions about why Dad was sleeping in the spare bedroom.
He was being very good about giving me the space I needed and I was grateful for it because I was really, really angry.
I was so hurt that he had not put out the effort that he needed to keep our marriage together. He basically had chosen his lifestyle over his family. I was really trying to come to terms with it and I was sad, very very sad. I spent a lot of time up in the bedroom with the fireplace burning, reading books with the kids on the bed.
So during those two weeks that the ex was gone, that was during the time period that Thomas was putting together a celebration of life for his partner of 16 years, Tammy, who had passed.
I was not particularly friends with Thomas or his family. I only knew of them, but I had friends who worked with him on the PTA. Thomas was PTA president the year that his Tammy died. I ended up getting included with a group of women that helped prepare flowers and framed pictures to get things ready for this celebration of life.
I’m always glad to help if I can, but I didn’t really think much of it.
I do remember I showed up to the funeral about 20 minutes late…
I had stopped by this place called the Bra Garden in HB. I got myself a new, very pretty push-up bra and it was part of my plan to take care of myself and keep my spirits lifted – and my boobs too!
Cooper being Cooper had a suitcase full of nerf guns in the car and wanted to know if he could bring them in. I have no idea what would have possessed me to say yes, but I did.
I marched right inside with my new push up bra, plenty of cleavage, my redheaded son, his suitcase full of nerf guns and my Mia girl in a cute dress and bow in her hair.
It was a chatty scene with plenty of people there in black. Everyone was having cocktails and Thomas was getting ready to start speaking.
Until I actually saw Thomas speaking about Tammy, life, his thoughts about positivity, living your best life, being grateful and so on I just thought of him as some guy from the school.
I was really moved by his speech. Even more than I knew at the time. Much more than I wanted to admit. The things he said cut right to my heart. Especially that life is short and we should live life as fully as possible. He spoke like a great motivational speaker. I was uplifted.
Also… I just remembered thinking. “Holy Shit, he is smoking hot in a suit!”
Then I thought, “What the hell is wrong with me? I’m attracted to the new widower?”
I made a mental note to forgive myself because these were huge times of change and I was all over the board emotionally. I just chalked my instant and inappropriate attraction up to the crazy times I was experiencing. Either that or it is the new push up bra. 🙂
Thomas did make a great speech, and he looked great in a suit. But I knew my thoughts were silly. Moving it right along Diana.
It actually turned out to be a very joyful day. The event was in a large banquet room on the golf course with floor to ceiling windows.
The patio wrapped around the room and during Thomas’ whole eulogy there were dozens and dozens of kids who had gotten to borrow Cooper’s nerf guns. They were joyfully battling it out, being kids, being the future. It lightened up the mood and it was awesome observing these adorable little ones. The contrast between joyful children, our future, while honoring someone’s passing… It was very emotionally moving.
Time passed, and the spring made me feel alive. I’ve always been inspired by my parents’ marriage. My whole childhood I remember my Dad pinching Mom’s rear calling it the “two-fingered ass lock.” He always had some motorboating for her too that he would do on cold nights.
They made marriage look fun, and it was for the most part. It’s true, they occasionally fought, but they are so in love. So totally into each other. They love being together. I wanted something just like that.
I went to Hawaii with them that spring. It was wonderfully uplifting to see what love could be like. What could be out there for me.
I was becoming a big believer in being intentional about what I want. I wasn’t always. I had fallen into relationships before, either romantically or friendships, that just weren’t a good fit.
I wanted to really think about what I wanted, and more importantly, I had to talk myself into believing that I deserved it. I was a woman with three kids. I wanted them to see an example of a loving, romantic relationship and what the power of love was about! I guess I figured if I was ever going to go for a relationship again, he would have to be a pretty special guy.
So one day I dreamed up a list. I wrote it down and my friends and I had a good laugh about it.
“Things The New Guy Should Do”
- Love my kids as they are and love other humans and children naturally and easily.
- Practice patience
- Open doors
- Know God in his life
- Be funny
- Like sex
- Smell good
- Small gestures that let me know he’s thinking of me
- Dance (this is a cherry on top item – negotiable but barely)
- Help me when he sees I need help
- Does his fair share
- Is his own man that can stand on his own
- Has a big generous heart and takes care of/wouldn’t take advantage of mine.
- Likes my family and friends and willing to spend time with them
- Balanced. Mature enough to be moderate in all things drinking, eating, spending
- Strong enough to stand up to me when I am wrong
- No babies
- No whimps
- No pompous asses
- No cheaters or wandering eyes
- Wants to have a lot of fun with me
- Honest, honest, honest
- Smart enough to recognize the jackpot he won if he gets to share life with me!
I wrote this list in a period of my life where everything felt like it was possible, for the first time in a very long time.
I felt like I was maybe lovable and I felt like I was interesting. I felt like there was a possibility that someone could want me for more than just a business partner.
I recognized how down on myself I had been. I worried that my marriage had failed because I was boring, ugly, I didn’t cook what he liked. Just lots of sad and negative thinking about myself.
But now, I was starting to like myself again. Self-love was such a key thing to start practicing again. Exercise, beauty regimens, even just stuff like relaxing in a bathtub. I started saying nice things to myself in my head.
“Diana you are a good Mom.”
“Diana you are a good friend.”
“Diana you make good lasagna.”
Stuff like that.
I was finally starting to be honest with myself and others about how crappy things had been. Just admitting how hard I had struggled lifted a huge weight off my shoulders.
The sky was the limit for the first time in a long time and everything in my life felt like it was changing for the better.
Although I had this negative undercurrent related to the divorce, I was relieved to finally admit to myself that I deserved to be treated better. A whole lot better!
Separating meant spending time alone, often without the kids when they were with their father. This gave me time to reflect on my future and time to figure out who I was and what I wanted next time around.
I WANTED to be married. I WANTED to be in a lifelong partnership. I just barked up the wrong tree for so many years. I wasn’t soured on love or relationships or men. I came out of the gate feeling hopeful and excited about the opposite sex.
Maybe I’m just a horny person, but good looking guys seemed to be everywhere I looked once I was separated. I was having fun looking! It was like once that dead weight was lifted… it was game on!
Then I had this amazing plot twist!
After the memorial, Thomas and I started a friendship. There were plenty of helping hands and I thought I could help too. I started running Thomas’ daughter around to school skate parties and events. She was very close in age to my kiddos.
Thomas was busy and grateful for my help. Knowing that he had just lost Tammy, I would text him weekly to see what he needed at the grocery. He always said “no thank you”, they were fine.
He let me take Aaralyn on play dates and when swimming season came around the kiddos and I would take her to the pool. She was an easy fit with all the kids and parents who were my village of friends. We’d send him photos of her having a good time.
Eventually, he joined us when he came to pick her up one night and had a beer. My friends loved him but I’m sure they were all concerned with my big, obvious, raging-crush on a guy who just lost his wife. Plus they knew I was mid-divorce. I denied that l liked him to myself and my friends. I laughed it off.
Did it stop me from fantasizing about what it would be like to be with a man like him?
Interestingly enough though, ”The List” was written before I even knew him. For all I knew of him, he may have been a complete turd.
Turns out though, he wasn’t. If you look in the dictionary, for the definition of “opposite of a turd,” there would be a photo of my husband’s smiling face.
He’s a great listener, communicator, he loves to have fun, he’s so damn funny and he’s a great friend and father.
So when I admitted to Thomas, months later, that I had a crush on him… he admitted that he had a crush back. Shortly after, he found out that I had “The List.”
He wanted to know what was on it so I read it to him over the phone one day. That was about as brave as I could be. I don’t think I could’ve said it to his face… but as I read it, I realized he was every single thing on that list.
Well, except for loving my children. But he and I both later would admit that he did not know my children yet. It was too early… and so I skipped that one for the time being.
Everything else was so amazingly him. It was like universe crafted this man for me. It was so good. So, so good. I couldn’t believe how easy he was to be with.
At the end of me reading my list, he sarcastically said: “I own that list!!!!”
He does own that list. He nails it every day. Every time he’s patient when I’m unable to be, everytime he teaches math to Mia when I can’t.
Every time he sees the good in something that I’m annoyed with. Every time I want to write off someone and he sees the compassionate side.
Every time he hooks up one of my family members with a tech device set up that they couldn’t otherwise do themselves… it just makes me really proud to be his wife.
He is amazing at being the man of his family. We are very happy, he takes really good care of the kids and is very gentle and accepting of them.
I couldn’t ask for a better partner! He owns that list and he owns my heart.