Thursday, April 7, 2016

Dating With a Disability, Part 5 of 5

Three months later, Mike called me.  It was very late and I was very shocked to hear his voice.  I could not believe it was him.  It brought back a familiar flood of memories and my heart physically hurt, but I quickly remembered the dreadful reality that he was married.  He asked, “How are you?”  I replied, “I’m awful but why do you want to know?”  He said, “I just had to know if you were mad at me.”  I was surprised and thought his question was quite odd but I answered, “I am not mad if you are truly in love with someone else.  I am angry beyond description though because I just don’t believe you are.  I still have no idea what happened with us.”  He did not respond.  Then I asked, “It’s 1:30 in the morning.  Why aren’t you home with your new bride?  Does she know you are calling me?”  He said he was still at work and no, his wife did not know he was calling.  I told him that he should go home and not call me again.

I received another unexpected call from Mike 15 months later.  He called on a particularly bad day when I had gone home sick (depressed) from work.  I simply could not get him off my mind and just wanted to crawl in my bed.  Within minutes of getting home, the phone rang.  For a moment, I considered not answering it because, after all, no one knew I was home.  But I did answer it and it was Mike.  He said he could not stop thinking about me and asked if he could come down right then to see me.  Competing thoughts collided in my head - this would technically be an affair, yet I knew also that I had to see him if I were to have any hope at all of getting over him.  I needed to know if my feelings were the same as they were almost 2 years ago or did they just exist in my head?  I had to know the answers, so I said yes.

Within 2 hours, Mike was at the door.  Within seconds, it was very clear that absolutely nothing had changed.  For both of us, it was as if we had never been apart.  I wondered if my torment over this guy would ever end.  When he left, I carefully emphasized that I would not be his mistress and that I would not see him again without divorce papers in one hand and a wedding ring in the other.

A year and a half later, Mike was divorced.  Our relationship continued where it left off.  He quit his job as a building engineer and moved from Los Angeles to San Diego into my condo with me.  Soon after, I received my engagement ring.  The words I waited so long to hear finally came, “Will you marry me?”

Mike and I got married in Las Vegas on October 2, one month after he proposed.  At this point, we had known each other for 11 years.  We had met each other’s families.  We were very confident that this was right.  His family from California, mine from Nebraska, and several close friends were in attendance.  We had a sensational day, ceremony, and a reception at the Steak House at Circus Circus.  I was definitely queen for a day.  One month later, we had a reception at our neighborhood clubhouse with family and friends.

Mike’s family and I bonded quite quickly, just like I knew we would.  Their initial reaction was really not that much different than any other family facing the same circumstances. 

In retrospect, every experience Mike and I went through, including his marriage and divorce, was necessary in order for us to realize that we just had to follow our hearts.  We balance each other like no one else can – it simply took time to learn that we don’t have to explain anything to anyone. 

As if on cue, soon after our marriage, “Dear Abby,” the newspaper advice columnist, answered a letter from a concerned reader on the subject of falling in love with an amputee.

“DEAR ABBY:  “.... my daughter has fallen in love with an amputee.  We are heartsick.  She is a beautiful girl and could easily get a whole man.  How do parents adjust to knowing their daughter will spend the rest of her life caring for an invalid?

DEAR PARENTS:  What makes you think he is an invalid?  You would be amazed how well some people can manage on artificial limbs.  There is no reason to be heartbroken.  If he is “whole” enough for her, it says a great deal for her values.  Theirs could be a completely beautiful and fulfilling marriage.”

Mike and I recently celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary.  Finding the exact right person is indeed possible, no matter what the disability, and no matter who understands it.  Sometimes it really is simply just “meant to be.”