This is a composition I wrote in August of 2015. This is the beginning of the story of Mark and me.
“Who believes in dreams anymore? Who believes in unseen things, in impossible things, in the things you can’t measure and control? Who believes in things you can’t deduce and reduce and wrap up into a neat package? Who, in this cynical world, remembers how to find Hope?” Ann Voskamp
I had been knocked down, sucker punched by life. I was gutted, an empty shell. I had lost my life as I knew it. My husband was dead at 53 years of age, struck down by malicious brain tumors. My life, the one I knew was waiting for me each day as I awoke, had vanished… a wisp of smoke trailing off on the breeze. I was alone, stark naked alone. I had never felt so empty.
I came to the blunt realization that no matter how hard I worked, how much I tried, no matter how much I loved Charlie and believed in our life together, he was gone and my life was uncontrollable and unruly. I was a wild-eyed maniac searching for hope amid the ruins of my carefully planned life, like an ant searching for a bread crumb in the cracks of the floorboards. I held onto a thin silk thread of hope that God had it all under control. I clung to hope for a better tomorrow. Even as I sobbed with grief, I held on. I was drowning in sorrow, but I clutched hope to my heart and walked on.
Having Real Dreams
About a year after Charlie died I had many dreams of him coming into a room smiling and me running up and hugging him. I was so thrilled he was back in my life. But at the end of these dreams, he always hugged and kissed me goodbye. At times I woke up crying.
About two years after Charlie died, I started having dreams of me lying in a soft white bed, surrounded by pillows, light, music and being held by someone – a man. He would hug me and say, “I will take care of you.” I thought this might be a dream about God taking care of me as a widow. But, deep in my heart, I wanted to believe it was someone that would enter my life and once again fill my heart with love and joy.
Two and a half years into my walk alone…. I awoke one morning and knew I was done with deep grieving. I had allowed myself to feel everything deeply. I had wept and vented and prayed. And now I was ready to go forward with a scabbed heart to look for love again. I awoke in August, 2014 and said, “Julie, it is time to move forth in Joy.” And I did.
Nightmares in the Dating World
I signed up for a couple of online dating services and started to look for a special guy. What I experienced over the next seven months was a “made for TV movie”. I had thoughts of writing a book entitled “You Can’t Make This Shit Up”. I was so tired of meeting guys that had no clue as to what they wanted their lives to look like; much less the kind of woman they wanted to spend it with. My world was full of lonely, bitter men. I had just about given up. I decided one night I would give it one more shot. Instead of waiting around for guys to find and text me, I would look over the profiles of men and write to some of them and see what happened.
125 miles away, on the same night, Mark was having a bad time of it too. He was tired of trying to find love. He had dated several woman that were unstable and a little crazy. He was looking for a woman who had a moral compass and knew what she wanted out of life. He joined an online dating service and wrote up a profile. In a moment of deep loneliness, he called for God to be in control and bring the right woman into his life.
The next night, Mark and I “met” online and exchanged phone numbers. We started talking on the phone and decided to meet the following weekend.
A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes
Mark and I clicked immediately. I felt like I had known Mark for years and he had wandered back into my life. He was genuine and he was my kind of people. He was a good, single father and a generous soul – two things I hold in high regard. He had experienced pain and loneliness and had learned and become better because of these hard parts in his life. I knew that I had met a special man that appreciated the specialness in me.
And so I have spent countless hours with Mark. We have talked and laughed. We have kissed and hugged. We have gotten to know each other by spending days and hours and minutes together. He is a quirky and complicated and simple and generous. He likes the eccentric and difficult and plain and compassionate Julie. I like that he is spontaneous and a social butterfly. He appreciates that I am a thoughtful introvert. He takes care of me in so many ways even though I am strong and hate to be “bossed around”. He needs a woman’s touch in his life and welcomes my “woman’s grace”.
Living the Dream
Being in a new relationship has been a considerable transition for me. I had moved on from being Charlie’s wife to Julie all alone. Now I have left this place of comfort and frailty to become a woman who has fallen in love again. I have been vulnerable, rallied, been frightened, hoped, and believed that my life had changed once again – for the better. And standing with me, through all of this, has been Mark.
Mark has within himself the joy of living. That is what I find so endearing about him. He is decidedly unpredictable. This helps me leave my comfort zone and enjoy life on a moment by moment level that I have been trying to practice for months. I am indubitably reserved and thoughtful. This helps him to slow down and enjoy life in a more reflective way. Isn’t it wonderful when two hopeful people find the missing pieces of the puzzles that are their lives in each other? We both, in our own ways, knew there was hope for a better life WITH, rather than a life WITHOUT. I am filled with gratitude that God had such magnificent plans for each of us.
And so… I have become a woman who believes in dreams. I dreamed, literally, of a man holding me and assuring me that he would take care of me. I have become a woman who believes in unseen things, in impossible things, in the things I can’t wrap up in a neat package. I have become a woman who, in this cynical world, remembered how to Hope. I have found this in my life with Mark. I breathlessly await how God will pour out His mercy and goodness upon us in our days together…
Dreams do Come True
Mark and I were married in June of 2016.