Bill and I started dating on December 20, 1989. Here is our story, as seen in CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THE DATING GAME. I hope it inspires you during this season of love.
Thicker than Blood
“He’s ten years older than me!” I said to my friend, Kathy, as she tried talking me into meeting her husband’s best friend.
“You don’t have to marry him; just go out with him. I hate seeing two of my closest friends hurting the way you are and thought you’d be good company for each other.”
Recently widowed at the age of thirty-two, I was anxious to be married again. Bill, on the other hand, was separated, with no plans to ever have another wife. Yet, once I agreed to meet him, we clicked and started spending all our available time together.
With four daughters between us, alone time was a precious commodity. We spent hours on the phone, talking late into the night. With each passing month, we grew closer and closer. Yet, we still had opposite marriage goals for our lives.
It wasn’t long before I was, as they say, head over heels in love with Bill. He’d walk into a room and take my breath away. However, my feelings made him uncomfortable. After all, he was still in love with his wife, and wanted nothing more than to work things out with her. While I agreed that would be the best thing for him and for their two daughters, it was apparent the family was not going to reunite.
He admitted his struggle one night as we sat listening to The Moody Blues. “I don’t know what to do,” he said. “I have strong feelings for you and can’t imagine my life without you, but I still love her.”
“Of course, you do,” I empathized. “I’m not asking you to stop loving her. Loving me doesn’t preclude how you feel about her.”
“I don’t understand. How could I possibly love both of you? It just isn’t right.”
“Who says it isn’t? Don’t you think I still love Jim?”
“That’s different. Your husband is dead.”
I paused, trying to put my thoughts into words. “Do you remember how you felt about April when she was born?”
“I loved her with everything in me. What does that have to do with anything?”
“Well, when you found out you were going to have another baby, didn’t you wonder how you could possibly love a second child the way you loved the first?”
Still confused, he answered me. “I guess so.”
“So, when Mindy was born, did you have to take some of your love away from April in order to love her?”
“Of course not. I just loved her... as much as I loved her sister.”
“Exactly,” I said, confident my point was made, “you didn’t have to split that love in two to share it. Your heart simply grew.”
“That’s a good way of putting it. But I still don’t understand what that has to do with us,” questioned Bill.
“Well, I’m not asking you to stop loving your first wife. She’s the mother of your children and you were with her for over twenty years. Love like that doesn’t go away. But that doesn’t mean you can’t love me, too. You just have to give your heart permission to grow.”
Over the next few days, he thought about what I said. And then, it happened. Not only did he allow his heart to grow, but he also gave himself permission to say the words I desperately wanted to hear.
“I love you, Hana,” he said gently, tears filling his eyes. “I really love you.”
A few months later, sitting across the table from me at the restaurant where we’d had our first date, he asked me to marry him. Naturally, I said yes.
We’ve been married for over twenty years now. My children, who were only nine and seven when we wed, were blessed with the best daddy they could have hoped for. Now, with children of their own, Grandpap is the heart of the family.
“You’ll never find anyone who will love Bethany and Jessica as much as Jim did,” a relative told me the week after my husband’s death.
She was wrong. Bill loves my girls, our girls, as much as he ever loved his own two daughters. Blood is thicker than water? Maybe. But love is much thicker than blood.
CHICKEN SOUP FOR THE SOUL: THE DATING GAME