It’s been almost a year since I met the man of my dreams. I’m sure you receive thousands of stories, but not many like this. This one is ours.
At the end of last year, I made two somewhat contradictory decisions: (1) to sell my house, uproot my child and move to a place where I hoped my prospects of finding a loving relationship would be better; and (2) to sell my house, uproot my child and move to a place where I could survive without an intimate partnership – a place where I’d have friends and family to love instead. I was trying hard to accept that option two, life as a single woman and parent, was likely my fate. I was looking for ways to be at peace with and grateful for the many blessings in my life, even if I was to enjoy those blessings without a life partner.
I traveled to Washington D.C for the holidays and when I returned home, I put a stake in the ground – literally and figuratively – a “for sale” sign on my front lawn and a determination to take the first step toward a new life. Then I went to the computer to close down my e-Harmony account.
I opened up my browser and found “Robert in Miami” – grinning into the camera in ski goggles and a red parka. He was handsome and smart. We exchanged questions, answers, emails over the course of a week. He was hilarious and kind. I was in love long before we ever met in person. He had three beautiful daughters (aged 4, 10 and 15) and they’d all lost the most important person in their lives less than a year ago to lung cancer. I had no delusions of rescuing them from their grief, stepping in as the savior-mom, or any of that stuff – only a tremendous attraction to this man, a love for his mind and respect for his heart and role as a single father.
We spoke on the phone and arranged to meet. Here’s where it gets interesting.
While trying on the phone to find a place to share a cup of coffee, we discovered that his wife and I had worked for the same company. It’s a big organization, and so we’d never met. But for a year we shared an elevator bank at 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. Kelly worked on the 6th floor in sales; I worked on the 10th in the legal department. That was 2000-2001.
It gets more interesting.
Robert and I opted for dinner instead of coffee, and as we began talking we both came to recall the same telephone conversation. When I decided to leave New York after my divorce and take a job with an affiliate in Miami, someone at work suggested I call a colleague who’d made the same move 3 years earlier. I called and we chatted. She told me how happy she and her family were, the great schools, the great friends she’d met through her daughters. She gave me the name of her real estate agent; she suggested we get the kids together after I made the move. At one point, she turned to her husband and said “Rob, I’ve got this great woman on the phone. She’s a single mom, a lawyer and she’s moving down here. Do we know any single guys? . . .” “No, Babe” I heard his voice in the background. “All my friends are in NY.”
That was 2004. After I’d moved the following year and gotten settled in my new job, I tried to get in touch with Kelly . . . to take her to lunch and thank her for being so kind to a stranger on the phone. I was told she’d left the company. I didn’t ask why, and soon I forgot about the woman I’d never meet. I didn’t know she’d been diagnosed with cancer and had begun a harrowing battle that would end 2 years later.
So I launched into the dating scene in South Florida, becoming an expert at the “first date”, but quite the amateur at the second. While I was going through my own stuff (a single parent in a new city, trying to eek out a social life), Robert and his children were going through theirs – her long illness and painful decline. I actually remember the day that Kelly died (though I had no idea of its significance at the time) because the date was so distinct – 7/7/07. It was scorchingly hot and hazy, but threatening rain. I took my son to a birthday party (the theme was James Bond, 007 for a child turning 7), and had a rare hour to myself with nothing to do. I remember looking up at the clouds flying across the sky and crying – feeling so sad at what felt like a sealed fate, wanting to be strong so I could raise my son in a happy home. But in moments of stillness like those, I’d always felt burdened, helpless and alone – how was I going to raise this child and make a life for us all by myself? I wiped my tears and counted my blessings.
When Robert and I met, 9 months later, we liked each other instantly. We talked for 4 hours over dinner, discovering that we’d grown up in the same hometown in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., shared the same taste in music, the same astrological sign, the same love of food and wine and family. We’d lived in the same cities in three different states. We’d vacationed in the same places with our spouses on the opposite side of the world. I worked as an intern one summer in high school at his mother’s small social services agency. I look a little like his sister. We joked that if we dug too deep, we’d find that we were cousins.
After our second date, I took down the “for sale” sign.
I have had only glimpses of how this story reads from Robert’s point of view – what it must have been like to lose your best friend and wife, the mother of your children, and then to go on . . . raising three girls on his own. For me, I can only say now that he is my best friend and that loving him has been the most amazing and wonderful journey of my life. His daughters are incredible girls, each in her own way, still adjusting and slowly allowing me to be part of their lives. My son adores them all. I am cautious and optimistic and joyfully in love.
We talk sometimes about how the stars aligned for our meeting, after our paths had grazed and touched and almost crossed so many times before. Whatever stars there are, e-Harmony is among them. I don’t know if you’ve discovered the secret formula for compatibility or have uncovered the online path to finding one’s soul-mate. I do know that I am and will be forever grateful to eHarmony for playing a part in my journey to this new place in life – a place of contentment and hope and joy.