I have given deep thought as to where I start with her story, and to leave out the beginning would leave you as a reader a huge hole in the why and the how comes. No one could have predicted the choices that were made for her when she was born would eventually unknowingly dictate the rest of her life.
She was born the fourth baby. Well behind the three oldest she was the product of two people who loved her, but couldn’t stay together. So the father of the oldest three raised her as his own and together her mom and dad and their four babies became a tight knit family who loved deeply and loudly.
Somewhere around her 20th birthday her mom sat her down and explained the circumstances surrounding her birth and she knew that the dad she grew up knowing wasn’t exactly her father. Imagine finding that out if you will at 20, the emotions you would feel would span the vast expanse of the world and she felt every single one. She would tell you that it was a tough couple of years.
And as life would have it, that very same dad who loved her like she was his own would become very ill. He would pass away surrounded by his family a few short years after. She had to say goodbye to the man who shared no blood, but loved her so deeply that you would never know it. She was his everything, and her his. To watch her say goodbye to her dad was heart wrenching.
The call came one hot day in July. Her older sister had cancer. Her sister had two little girls and so she packed her bags and moved from her home of 10 years in Denver back to Iowa to build a relationship with them so the transition would be easier. They weren’t the best behaved, but they were loved with a love that only a mom dying of cancer could do. A few short years and she again had to sit bedside with a family member who was being taken to heaven all too soon.
Many tearful nights followed. The realization of becoming a mom of three all alone was daunting. For someone who grew up thinking she didn’t want any children she was now the guardian of two grieving little ladies and her own little boy.
I feel like I’m just giving you facts, and that irritates me a bit. I had a ring side seat to this transition, and I can tell you the emotions ran deep and fluently. At times we cried for the loss of her sister, at times we cried over the loss of her freedom, and we most certainly cried over the financial strain that this would mean to a single wage earner. The questions we dealt with together were as small as, what do the girls wear for the funeral to as big as the realization of the chances for a man who would walk in and love this menagerie of a family being slim to none. Those few weeks after the death of her sister, I lived with them, and it was the sweetest time of confusion I ever knew. To watch these people become a family under the circumstances of death… God certainly was there, and looking back it was beautiful, and very very hard.
I talked her into it. Moving to the same town I live in. Actually, I don’t think I gave her a choice. Her and her new little family showed up one Saturday in July and haven’t left yet. I consider that a win for her and her girls. This community, especially the school system and it’s teachers have wrapped their arms around the girls and allowed them to work through their grief, anger, joys and excitements like lifelong friends would. To see this community love on this little family is why I suggested they move here in the first place.
This past week, during a concert at Red Rocks, the youngest of four children, grieving daughter and sister, single mom of three was asked to be someones forever. Someone who gets that peoples paths are crazy and unplanned. Someone who loves each and everyone of these kids like he was their first and only dad. He asked her to be his bride and she said yes.
When I sit and think about it all I tear up. A woman who loves everyone she has ever met almost instantly is going to be marrying a man who is just like her dad. A man who loves without prejudice and expectation. A man who would do anything for her. A man who knows that this strong willed woman full of life needs to be held and whispered I love you every night. AND she’s marrying into a huge family full of people who love her.. and she loves them with that same kind of love and that’s the best love story ever in my book.