Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Yep, that's a ring on my finger!

Engaged May12, 2013
I'll admit it. I never thought it would happen. I never thought I'd find someone who I wanted to spend the rest of my life with and frankly, from a lot of unsuccessful dry runs I never thought anyone would ever feel the same about me. About ten days ago I heard that question...but first I saw it written in bacon. That's right. I said bacon.

A little explanation. Patrick and I have always shared a love of breakfast (not bacon in particular) but it's been something that's always been our thing. Our first date was a breakfast date at Charlie's Frog Pond in Rochester. An actor and a daytime non-profit worker had to find common time together to schedule a date....and so it happened we found our time. Since then breakfast has always been special to us.

So on Sunday May 12th I never expected that our breakfast date would be any different than the many we've shared together. That was until we'd long finished our meal and he just couldn't leave without getting our bacon. Suddenly, I realized what was happening...there was a scent in the air of a little more than breakfast meats. I knew. I didn't even think at the time that I was looking slightly grubby in a hooded sweatshirt. All I could think about was that something was about to happen that I never imagined...with a man I never thought I'd meet. The special guy who I love with all my heart.
When the waitress placed two plates before me at our booth in District Commons I giggled...and then I started to cry. 

He knelt down on one knee and asked...and I said yes. Not many moments in my life have felt like that one. And how many moments do you get like that?  Perhaps you longtime blog readers remember the slightly cynical Leah who shared hilarious hijinks of dating's most epic fails. I laughed about those and every once in a while shared them with you. It made for fun reading, but it wasn't always fun feeling the frustration of that struggle. Cancer itself even felt easier than finding love after cancer. All those sad feelings seemed to wash away as a distant memory the morning of May 12th.
The best part of that weekend and getting engaged wasn't just that moment itself but sharing it with others. Before we shared it with everyone else we first had to keep my lips sealed for 24 hours while we drove from DC to New Jersey to share the news with his family. Patrick surprised me by renting a convertible knowing I'd never had the chance to ride in one. It ended up being a sunny but cold 4 hour ride to Passaic but we bundled up and kept the top down all the way. And we shivered with excitement.
And then we shared our news in Patrick's Mother's Day card to his mom. His brother read it out loud to her and us and hugs went all around. We called his sister to tell her and her family back in Wisconsin. I was giddy. And then there was this warm and clear realization that I would be joining someone's family. That feeling is just so awesome.
Patrick and I with his mom, his brother Brian and his niece Zoe
Mayumi (his sister in law) and Zoe

I am so appreciative of all life has taught me thus far. But I have to admit, I'm kind of excited about being able to share what life has to teach with a partner. 
So, I guess what I want to say to anyone who is reading this blog who has battled something difficult -be it cancer or loss, or illness or a struggle of any kind is keep yourself open. The hard times you've faced don't close you off to finding love - or being loved. They merely allow you to appreciate it more when you find it. And your experience also could open you to new avenues that others may not be willing to explore or willing to have the patience to understand when they find it. His work as an actor makes travel and stints away from his newly adopted home in Rochester now a part of our reality. Patrick and I have had to spend a large majority of our 20 months together apart. Apart only by distance. 

We've found a way because we know the value in what we've discovered. It's a journey filled with challenge but a lot of rewards...and the time between our visits is rewarded over and over, each time we have that deep embrace of 'hello again'. 

Enjoy every sandwich. (Thanks Warren Zevon)

Holy cow, I'm getting married!

Friday, May 3, 2013

Stop and smell the flowers

the Oxford magnolias
It's easy to take most things for granted but nature has the knack for reminding us that we must savor the moment. Nothing is more visible a reminder of this than the beloved row of magnolia trees running straight through the center of Oxford Street. Their blooms color our neighborhood and fill the air with their fragrant scent but only for a week...and then gone. 

So fleeting is time. As blossoms now begin to rain on the grass, I remind myself that there are so many opportunities in life we must take advantage of and savor while they are here. Spring is a time that reminds us all of that. 

Next weekend I'm going to visit Patrick in DC (where he's been doing Shear Madness at the Kennedy Center) and we'll drive to New Jersey to his brother's house where we'll celebrate Mothers Day with his mom, Sharon. Patrick's mother has Alzheimer's disease...a devastating condition I've become familiar with over these 19 months. She knows my name and I love that, but Patrick and I are both aware that there will be a time when she will not.

Before this, in all the years I'd been dating, I've never really taken a special place within someone's family. This is different. I've grown to love Patrick's family and his Mom is so special to me. Her joy when she talks to me on the phone or her hugs of elation in the few times we've been able to see each other in person are precious. That's why I'm thankful to have this gift of knowing her. I've gotten to share our mutual love of horses while we led two large mares into pasture in Wisconsin and both tittered with laughter as we watched Patrick struggle to coax a stubborn pony behind us. I've seen her love of her children as she has playfully joked with them. Her sense of humor is still visible. I see a lot of who she is and shades of who she was. Those moments mean everything, but as Patrick and his family know those times are changing.

When you love someone...or someone comes into your life appreciate them. Give them your time because that's a lesson that can be the most difficult to learn the hard way. 
Stop to smell the flowers today.