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The Truth of Happenstance

If you don't believe in cosmic fate, just stop reading.

I met my current boyfriend almost 3.5 years ago.

He was a metaphorical cowboy, exploring Okauchee and leaving broken hearts in his path. His wife passed away a year and a half prior and he was a master to none and a slave to no one.

I was the metaphorical hot mess - wait no - I was literally a hot mess. Recently ended an engagement and lost my best friend.

Well, wait - let me backtrack. We met Summer of 2019 - he was "dating" one of my girlfriends. It was a brief meeting, nothing to note, but he added me on Facebook (obviously, because I am, like, the coolest), and I accepted because I bartend and have a million people that add me.

Then I ran into him at another bar on Thanksgiving Eve of 2019, but he was so beyond hammered he STILL doesn't remember it. Again, a quick - "hey, aren't you [my friend's] friend?" and a "Happy Thanksgiving."

Then I went through the loss of another friend after he took his own life and a month of pain dealing with an unfinished "what could have been." I was deep in my feelings about everything, and my writing at the time came from a place of complete pain.

I wrote a short story about the idea of goneness one morning (yes I know I made up that word). It was about a couple that let each other go, and went their separate ways, dedicating themselves to never speaking again, but knowing they always should. There was a lot of messaging about ego and regret in it.

My fingers went faster than my brain. I spit it out and posted it immediately. Then, like the English teacher I was, I read it again and had to take it down immediately to edit it. Typos and such.

He messaged me immediately: "Hey, where is that poem you posted a link to?"

Me: "I had to take it down to fix the typos. Also, it was short story, not a poem." Like how sassy do I always need to be?

Him: "Oh, you wrote that? That was really good."

We went on to talk about the loss of his wife and how he had been sober for two months (since I saw him on Thanksgiving Eve) because he realized he was spiraling. I told him to come meet up with me sometime while I was bartending and we could drink mocktails and chat more.

After that, we have been *almost* inseparable. We have tried to stay apart, but we are miserably horrible at it.

There were some oddities after that, like when I found a picture of my son sitting on the bar at the lake restaurant eating a chicken tender when he was about 5 years old, with a blurry shot of my boyfriend in the background.

Or the day the boys put on the girls' short shorts and tank tops at our hangout restaurant, and he was in a picture that I took on my friend's phone, standing right next to his late wife as she took the same picture.

But I never *knew* either of them.

So all that was just backstory to the real point.

Today marks the 5-year anniversary of his wife's passing. So many things have changed since I met him 3.5 years ago when it comes to how his grief manifests, but the grief is still there, and so is all the love (check out my other blog, if you haven't yet).

Something most people don't know, or don't connect, is the grief I have surrounding this day.

One time, about three months after we started hanging out, I was looking at his late wife's plaque honoring her military service. For the first time, I saw her death date.

June 29, 2018.

Before I put this out there, I want to say that I am no way comparing our two losses. They are not even in the same orbit.

But, we both lost someone important to us that day.

Anyone who knows me, knows my dog, Tyson, was the only thing that kept me going through all the chapters in my life: college, living out West on my own, marriage, childbirth, divorce, financial struggles, abusive relationships, career changes...

It isn't the same as a wife/partner.

I am legit struggling to explain it, which means I just need to not. The best I've ever explained it was in this post:

I know what that dog meant to me, and I also know how losing him lit my world on fire.

That is exactly what losing his wife did to my boyfriend's world.

When we met, we were both just resurfacing from the ashes, and trying to actually face what set us ablaze in the first place: the goneness.

It isn't someone passing that kills us - it is the moments in life we experience after that they are gone from.

If you don't believe in cosmic fate, just stop reading.

I don't have the answers - I don't even know why I am writing this to be honest. All I know is that there was something that pushed our orbits in sync on June 29, 2018, whether we knew it or not. We could have met years ago, but we didn't. I probably would have completely ignored him if I had because he was married.

So, today is a day that will be ingrained on my brain, regardless of where we end up, and whether or not I know him still as I take my last breath, it will be one of the things that passes through my mushy memories. Today is the day I learned the power of love.

To the woman he loved before me: I hope that you revel in your reunion when the time comes. I'll keep him as safe as you can keep a stubborn, life-loving man until then.

To my dear old friend: I can still smell the wind in your fur, and I'll be seeing you first when I get west of sunset.


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