Living Happily Ever After


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“And yet, I suppose you mourn the loss or the death of what you thought your life was, even if you find your life is better after. You mourn the future that you thought you’d planned.”  (Lynn Redgrave)

It has been two years since my unexpected life began. I haven’t been haunted by the events that led to it for quite some time and then out of the blue, unexpectedly, I dreamed of a moment connected to it (not one of my favorite moments, by the way) and I could not shake the memory of it when I awoke.

The experience I dreamed of occurred a few weeks after certain events ended my life as I knew it. One ramification of the unexpected situation was that I was released from serving as president of the women’s organization of my church congregation. Another ramification of it was that due to the public nature of my former husband’s crimes and positions of leadership he had held within our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, local church leadership determined it was necessary to publicly address some of it to congregations our family had been closely associated with. My church leaders were very kind about it all; they told me it was necessary and explained why; they told me the day they were going to do it so I could be prepared (and probably, if I were smarter and raised by different parents, so that I could be absent from those meetings that day.) But unfortunately, I had been taught differently than that–taught to face what needs to be faced and that trials and tragedy don’t change what is right or what is expected of us.

It was a poignant lesson I learned in 1986 when my dad unexpectedly died in a plane crash. I was a teenager and dreaded going to church that Sunday after he died. He had been a leader in our congregation and I didn’t want to face people (even people I loved or people who loved me and my family) and I had a sneaking suspicion my mom was planning that our family would attend church. Late Saturday night I asked, “We don’t have to go to church tomorrow, do we?”

My mom was firm in her resolve and her answer. “Of course we do! Just because your dad isn’t here doesn’t mean the rest of us can stop living and it certainly doesn’t change what is right. We believe in going to church on Sunday, that is what we have always done and that is what we will continue to do.” She was a strong woman in a gentle kind of way (I don’t want to make her sound harsh–she was anything but that.) She took our family to church despite the loss we’d experienced just two days previously (although she relented a little bit and let us arrive 5 minutes late so we wouldn’t have to talk to anyone before the meeting.)

Interestingly, when our unexpected life began, one of my children asked me a question very similar to the one I’d asked my own mother 23 years before, “Mom, we don’t have to go to church this Sunday, do we?” and I gave an answer very similar to the one my mom had given me and we went to church and continued to attend each Sunday, regardless of some uncomfortable moments.

Like the Sunday I dreamed of recently. The Sunday I had to sit and endure public comments about my personal situation that was so public– comment about my former spouse’s crimes and the situation he created as a result. It was also the day the new presidency of the women’s organization of our congregation publicly recognized me, gave me a bouquet of flowers and thanked me for my service; and then after that, the leader of our cluster of congregations (known as a stake president) stood and addressed the issues that needed to be publicly discussed. I don’t remember a lot about that day, I mostly remember sitting in the back of the room, tears of grief, shame, humiliation, sorrow (and a host of other feelings and emotions) streaming down my cheeks as I stared at the beautiful flowers in my lap and endured what was being said to the women around me. I do remember a woman sitting by me on the back row, patting my arm or giving my shoulder a squeeze, through the whole thing. I can’t remember who she was, but how much I appreciated her kindness to me at that time! She helped me feel slightly less alone and helped me get through a very difficult moment.

That was a tough experience but I got through it and it’s now a part of my past. I honestly haven’t let myself think too much about it, or look back on it, until that recent morning when I woke up, tears streaming down my face. And #5 was asleep next to me in bed!

I was shocked. It has been two years! I am living a new life, remarried to a wonderful man, and I wake up crying over something that happened two years ago? I felt a little bit crazy. I didn’t want #5 to see, or know, he was married to such a wacky wife that dreamed about the past and woke up crying! I confess, I even felt a little bit guilty as I am the recipient of many miracles and kindness and have much to be thankful for; I have the great blessing to be remarried and am truly happy again–I can’t (or shouldn’t) be crying about the past (even if it was unintentional–something I woke up doing in a dream!)

I quickly got up to hide my insanity, pulled myself together and went on about my day. Except that I couldn’t quite shake the feelings that dream left me with. I felt slightly emotionally “off.” And that was just the start of the day.

“Going back to Ireland involves at least six to seven emotional breakdowns for me per day.” (Anjelica Huston)

Stay tuned. More emotional breakdowns to come.

Knowns and Unknowns

“There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” (Donald Rumsfeld)

When #5 and I were dating, shortly after he told me how he felt about me, he showed up one night with a book. It was titled something like, “1,000 Questions For Divorced People To Ask Before They Get Married Again.” He told me he thought we’d work our way through the questions in the book that night, and on future dates. That book and the whole idea of it caught me off guard, and while I thumbed through it a little bit as he drove, we didn’t really utilize it for our conversations. In fact, I probably made some jokes about it and assured #5 we didn’t need a book like that. (I mean, I interview people for a living!) And eventually, over the course of our unexpectedly long engagement, I forgot about it.

Then it came time to marry. One night I looked at him and exclaimed, “Wait! Where’s that book? We should read it!”

“What book?” he asked.

“The one about everything we need to know, and ask, before we get married,” I answered.

“I got rid of it,” he replied.

“WHAT?” I asked. “Why did you do that? We didn’t even read it.”

“You told me we didn’t need it,” he answered. “So I got rid of it.”

I took a leap of faith…and married him without the aid of that book. Everything went quite well until last week,  when I went to a bridal shower to honor the fiancee of #5′s oldest son.

During the event, they played a game where the fiancee had to answer a long list of questions about her intended. If she didn’t know the answer to a question, she had to chew a piece of bubblegum–adding a new piece to the blob that was accumulating in her mouth for each wrong answer or any answer she didn’t know. And although she ended up with a mouth full of bubblegum, she knew a LOT about #5′s son! I sat there marveling at all she knew about the man she was marrying and I came to a realization: I didn’t know #5–AT ALL.

Honeymoon over.

When I got home, #5 asked me how the evening went. I replied, “Fine, but it made me realize something.”

“What’s that?” he  asked.

“That I don’t know you–at all!” I answered. “I feel like I don’t know you at all and I’m trying to remember what we talked about the whole time we dated and were engaged, since there is so much about you I don’t know!”

“Like what?” he challenged.

I began to rattle off questions from the bridal shower I didn’t know:  favorite actor, favorite play, favorite song, favorite color, first girlfriend, first kiss and many other facts. I wanted #5′s answers; I’m married to him, I probably ought to know him!

That quest, however, brought me to additional realizations, like the realization that there is a reason I don’t know #5. To every answer except the favorite movie  one (his favorite movie is the original “Parent Trap–” he had a mad crush on Haley Mills, I think!) he either didn’t have a favorite or he needed more clarification: did I mean his first girlfriend (from 1st grade), his first REAL girlfriend, or his first girlfriend after his divorce? If experts say intelligent people tend to over-analyze questions and situations, I guess you could say the biggest thing I learned that night was the extent of #5′s intelligence; he is even more intelligent than I had originally thought! He asked for so much clarification I gave up and asked him an easy question I knew he’d know the answer to.

“Never mind, just tell me, where was our first kiss?”

Without missing a beat and without absolutely any hesitation he quickly answered, “At my house, by the door leading to the garage…” and he went on to describe everything in great detail. There was just one problem. That wasn’t OUR first kiss. THAT I knew.

“Must have been someone else,” I joked.

“It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.” (Will Rogers)

Apparently, I’m not the only one who doesn’t KNOW things!

Second marriage moment #10. That instant where I realized, again, that I was so happily married to a man I love despite the fact I don’t even “know” him! (Or at least, trivial details about him.) And that’s ok, because as Katharine Hepburn said, “Someone asked someone who was about my age, ‘How are you?’ The answer was, ‘Fine. If you don’t ask for details.’”

When You’re The One Who Has To Fix It

“The fellow that owns his own home is always just coming out of a hardware store.” (Frank McKinney Hubbard)

I’m pretty sure that’s how #5, my new husband, feels—especially since moving in with me and my four children! Gone are those carefree days he enjoyed as a single dad with one self-sufficient 12-year-old son, living quietly together in a townhome, retired from yardwork and a plethora of other things that now keep him busy! Like trips to Home Depot. Out of necessity. I’m pretty sure his new mantra is, “Well, I’m off to Home Depot!”

In the two months we’ve lived together, I’m embarrassed at the extra work I’ve caused #5. And I’m not just talking about the myriad of little things around a house that have needed to be taken care of—like the kitchen pantry door that broke and needed to be painted and replaced; the holes in the wall my youngest and his neighborhood friends made when trying to hang off shelves that used to be bolted to the wall; the hole in the wall caused by a child throwing open a door a little too fast with a little too much energy; toilets; clogged drains; doorknobs; garbage disposal issues; smoke detector batteries; and lots of burned out light bulbs that need to be replaced!

I’m talking about the day I stood and flushed the toilet at the exact moment a bottle of lotion fell off the shelf above it, STRAIGHT down the hole, at the exact moment the swirling water went with it. GONE! And then the toilet didn’t work anymore. (It had to be completely taken out of the bathroom and the lotion bottle practically surgically removed from its innards before replacing the toilet again.)

Or the day a decorative painted bowl, of its own free will, spontaneously fell off the shelf above the kitchen cupboards onto the Jenn Air stove top and shattered not just the bowl, but the entire stove top! (Not only was that one a lot of work for #5, but it was expensive, too! Oops.)

He has fixed it all without comment or complaint. He just smiles at me and goes to work to take care of it despite the fact he is NOT a home repairman. (I think he’d much rather be singing, playing the piano, acting, working out, dancing, or even reading instead.) In fact, he uses it so often, he has taken to keeping his toolbox at the ready beside his side of the bed!

And then one day, he broke something. Or at least, I thought he did. He looked at me with a stunned expression, and I started celebrating. “Yes! You finally broke something! I am SO glad! Think of everything I’ve broken and all of the extra work I’ve caused you, now I’m not the only one! I’m so relieved you broke something!” But no. I celebrated too soon. Turns out, #5 hadn’t broken anything after all.

But he remains a trooper and continues to fix, without complaint, all of the little things. He inherited a yard when he thought he’d never have to maintain a yard again. And, most importantly, he took on four additional children, including a four-year-old, when he had mostly raised his family. The impact he has made and everything he has helped “fix” around the house and in our lives astounds me.

Second marriage moment #9.

“There are a [heck] of a lot of jobs that are easier than live comedy. Like standing in the operating room when a guy’s heart stops, and you’re the one who has to fix it!” (Jon Stewart)

If They Could Read

“In Hollywood, the woods are full of people that learned to write but evidently can’t read. If they could read their stuff, they’d stop writing.” (Will Rogers)

I live in Utah now, not Hollywood, and I enjoy the woods up Provo Canyon my fair share.

Just two years ago I lost everything I thought was my life, except my four children, and had to make sense of the unexpected events handed me. I had the world’s share of shame, humiliation and unwanted publicity; my fair share of ups and downs, failures and successes; but I realized again, with each passing day, that life is always a choice and your life will be exactly what you make of it. (Granted, sometimes you’re blessed with better material to work with than at other times, but you can always choose to find happiness and to experience joy regardless of your life conditions. You can always strive to look on the bright side and to treat others with kindness despite the misery of your current situation. )

In this blog I’ve explained some of what I’ve lived through, how I’ve chosen to respond and why I’ve done the things I’ve done and any and all mistakes that I have made. I’ve shared all that I’ve hoped for and worked toward, the unexpected experiences I never imagined I’d have, the things I’ve learned and their outcomes. And while I know not every unexpected life results in a happy ending of complete and utter perfection, I believe you can choose to create your own fairy tales and live happily ever after.

For example, Cinderella lived through a lot of hard stuff. It’s not fun being left penniless (been there, done that!), orphaned (I can relate to that) and at the mercy of a wicked stepmother. Cinderella, with the help of her fairy godmother and her friends (mice and other farm animals) did find her handsome prince, yet she never got her mom or dad back in this life–not every thing, not every aspect, of Cinderella’s unexpected life became total perfection at the end of her story, but she did live happily ever after.

I’m grateful for that example. Fairy tales are magical. They’re great stories. They’re a wonderful escape. They give us hope. And they can teach us important things. As I look back at my life and the countless hours I spent in the nurture of fairy tale fiction, I realize fairy tales helped give me dreams; they gave me something to set my little girl sights on, so that when I grew up and and was thrust into the worst nightmare I never imagined possible, I had all of those fictional examples of triumph over tragedy, all of those imaginary happily ever afters, to help me hold on and cling to the real dreams I’d once had. They gave me courage to press forward and keep going, to create a new chapter of my story and to live a new version of my happily ever after.

A happy ending doesn’t mean complete and total restoration of what you had before. Instead, I believe it is embracing what you have now been given, looking for the good, and choosing to be happy in your new story while working to create a new and continuing happy ending for yourself and your loved ones.

It was the same with Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rose Red, Thumbelina, The Goose Girl and every other fairy tale heroine. Not necessarily a “perfect” ending, but a fairy tale perfect for them.

THAT is life.

Every single one.

Every unexpected one, because I believe we all have one.

But enough of that. Never let it be said that I can’t read–or understand Will Rogers’ wisdom–so I’ll close with this:

My undying thanks to everyone who was there for me in my old life, when my mostly-perfect world fell apart, during my divorce, and as I began a new life. Thanks to all who helped my children, who helped me, who shared our journey in person or via this blog, and for every single person who reached out to me and my family and shared their love and kindness with us. Every single one of you is known and remembered by us. Every single kindness will never be forgotten. We are better because of each of you.

In fact, we made it, thanks to you.

We’re going to live happily ever after.

The End.

As in, that’s the end of this portion of my story. Feel free to check in for occasional posts about life and my entirely new and unexpected life experiences in remarriage and as a stepmother. Like every other aspect of the unexpected life, it’s completely uncharted territory. I’m sure I’ll make my fair share of mistakes along the way, the only thing I can promise about all of it is that I’ll NEVER intentionally be a wicked stepmother! And I have a feeling, if it goes the way everything else has, it’s going to be quite another unexpected ride!

Fairies And Wings And…Teeth

“Listen to the wisdom of the toothless ones.” (Fijian Proverb)

A few weeks into our marriage, my middle son lost a tooth. He excitedly placed it in the special tooth fairy box (after several kids’ lost teeth, I found there was something easier than digging around underneath a pillow in the dark!) on the nightstand beside his bed and anxiously waited to see what the tooth fairy would deliver by morning.

The only problem?

He forgot to tell me what he had done. And I, his mother, had a few things on my mind: four children, new stepchildren, condensing houses, adjusting to everyone living together, full-time job, getting everyone where they needed to be at the times they needed to be there, my new marriage, and the usual worries and cares regarding bills and finances. Amidst all the other stuff, I forgot that most important item, nestled in its box, in the basement.

After a day or two of forgetfulness, my son said, “Sure do wish the tooth fairy could make a visit and hopefully leave me some money!” Oops.

A day or two after that my son reminded, “Can you believe it’s taking the tooth fairy so long to find me and my tooth?” Nope.

A few days later my son warned, “My tooth is ROTTING in the box!” Yuck. I’m not sure I want to discover what that means.

Of course, #5 wasn’t much help. He never remembered, himself, and never even remembered to remind me! Instead, he asked my son if he realized silver teeth were worth more than regular ones. Before my son got too excited at the prospect of that, I had to clarify that this daughter-of-a-former-dentist did NOT believe the tooth fairy valued a tooth so cavity-filled it had needed a silver cap on it as more valuable than a normal, healthy, cavity-free tooth! Another time #5 asked my son if he realized the longer you had to wait for the tooth fairy to take your tooth, the more money she generally left. I had to quash that one, too. (The adjustments you have to make in a second marriage–you’re both coming from two totally different worlds, with different ideas and expectations…even regarding the tooth fairy! Lol, but true.) We endured several nights of forgetfulness and then the one night before bed, when I actually did remember there was a duty to be done, I couldn’t find any cash in the entire house!

One evening, when I checked on my son before I went to bed, I saw a note he had written to remind the tooth fairy of the duty she had neglected–almost begging her to take his tooth! I dashed back upstairs, found some money, and quietly snuck through the dark of his bedroom, opened the lid of the tooth fairy box, dropped the cash in, and ran back upstairs before I was caught in the act of aiding and abetting the fairy of all things dental.

I couldn’t wait for the next morning, when my son discovered his reward and realized he hadn’t been forgotten after all! And it couldn’t have happened at a better time. Just when I was starting to feel like a loser mother, I had remembered what I needed to. Great job, Andrea! (I couldn’t help but congratulate myself on an important job, finally, well-done.)

The next morning my son appeared in the kitchen. I was brimming with expectation and excitement and he only slightly let me down when he said, “The tooth fairy came! She even gave me $1! But can you believe…she forgot to take my tooth?”

Sometimes you just can’t get it right.

Even if you’re trying to help the tooth fairy out.

Especially if you’re a newlywed.

Second marriage moment #8.

“All I know is that I’ve ruled out wearing fairy wings. When I was nine I wanted to get married in fairy wings, and now I realize that’s not cool anymore.” (Isla Fisher)

“Oh, How Nice!”

“The first of April is the day we remember what we are the other 364 days of the year.” (Mark Twain)

Actually, it was the first of March…but it showed me pretty much the same thing April was bound to.

Our first Sunday back at church after our honeymoon, our pastor asked #5 and I to address our congregation the following week. The Sunday of our assigned talks, I gave mine and sat down. I was followed by #5, who gave an excellent and heartfelt talk and ended it by expressing his love and gratitude for his wife; thanking her for her good example and for all she had taught him.

I sat there watching #5 conclude his talk, listening to him express his love and gratitude for his wife, and never thinking a thing of it–other than to think to myself in a very detached way (like I did the entire time I was single), “Oh, how nice. That man is married and that man loves his wife.”

He finished, turned to sit down and then suddenly it hit me:  Wait! He was talking about ME! I was HIS wife!

Married two weeks, and I’d already forgotten who my husband was! I’d found adjusting to being single after 20 years of marriage very difficult. I never imagined that the fulfillment of my dream–to find an amazing man, fall in love and remarry–would be an adjustment, too! But apparently it was going to be, since I experienced a total brain freeze about being married again just two weeks into it!

Second marriage moment #3.

“If it’s hard to remember, it’ll be difficult to forget.” (Arnold Schwarzenegger)

Thank goodness my forgetfulness only lasted a moment.:)

One Ambition

“Me only have one ambition, y’know. I only have one thing I really like to see happen. I like to see mankind live together – black, white, Chinese, everyone – that’s all.” (Bob Marley)

We survived the engagement portion of our relationship and married. But before I move on, I have to compliment #5 and his heroic attempts to keep us (and everything else) together during that time. Because at least for me, for us, being engaged in our 40s was very different than the last time. We came to the relationship with families, children, jobs, homes, church assignments, interests, hobbies and were both living very full lives before we even met, fell in love, and decided to be married. Our engagement wasn’t like the last time where we could drop just about everything to be with our intended. We had commitments and obligations; time with each other was limited.

Sometimes the only time each day we saw each other was 5 minutes in the workday morning, when #5 went out of his way to stop by my house on his way to work and before I left for mine, to say hello to me and to see the children before they left for school; or late at night, when #5 went out of his way to stop by for a few minutes after a show he was performing in, to say hello before he went home. Not a lot of time together. It was common for other couples marrying that I knew, as well. They both had homes, lives, and sometimes they even lived in separate cities–and continued to–even after they were married.

When we married, it came together so fast I didn’t think beyond the wedding day, honeymoon, the welfare of my children while I was out of town and my return to work afterward. So driving home from the honeymoon, as we entered Utah county, I realized real life was about to set in and I was struck with a thought I’d never had before: what is the plan? As in, where was #5 planning to live (and sleep) now that we were married? I knew it was the evening, we had to work the next day, and #5 didn’t have any personal belongings at my house. I suddenly realized I didn’t know what to expect!

I asked, “Where are you staying tonight?”

As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I realized my idiocy and saw the answer in his eyes. He looked at me like I was clueless (which I am and demonstrate on far too many occasions, exemplified, for example, by the events of 2009), shook his head like I was crazy (no comment!) and replied, “Of course your house–OUR house–we’re married!”

I said, “We both have homes, you don’t have anything at mine, we have to go to work tomorrow and I’d never thought that far ahead, so I wasn’t sure.”

He laughed and said, “Yes, it’s going to be a busy night. We’ll stop and see the kids and then we’ve got to run to my house and get some of my stuff and move it to the house so I can go to work tomorrow!”And that’s exactly what we did, although #5 was very patient to basically live out of a suitcase the first week or two of our marriage as he transitioned from living in his house, to mine.

That was the first “second marriage moment” for me. Only in a second marriage would you even wonder where your husband will live–your house, or his!

“What a happy and holy fashion it is that those who love one another should rest on the same pillow.” (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

Do You Think It Might Be The Wedding Ring?

“By persistently remaining single, a man converts himself into a permanent public temptation.” (Oscar Wilde)I’m thinking it might be an attractive combination. Single man, fit, hair long enough to make him look like a liberal college professor…and the women are beginning to like it! The other day #5 came home to tell me how nice women have been to him, especially lately, and that he thinks it might be the longer hair.

I asked, “Do you think it might be the wedding ring?”

He explained, “No, it was starting to happen a little before that, I think it must be the hair!”

Thank goodness he is married again, I guess, so he won’t be SUCH a temptation. He’s off the market, as am I. I have exited the single phase of life. For the second time. I can’t say I’m sorry to see it go. It was devastating to become single after 20 years of marriage and to re-enter the singles scene in my 40s, following an unexpected divorce and the trauma of a VERY unexpected life; the single life sure took some getting used to. In fact, I couldn’t imagine ever getting used to it. But I did.

In the beginning, I remember feeling so humiliated. I seriously thought everyone could tell, just by looking at me, what a loser (ie. single, a.k.a. divorced) woman I was. I was sure everyone thought I had terrible judgement, lacked intelligence, was impossible to live with or did any myriad of negative things that made someone not want to be with me and that caused my divorce.

Divorce was so contrary to anything I’d ever imagined for myself, I could hardly imagine, truly, ever being satisfied with myself and my status, but eventually I was. I wasn’t humiliated. I didn’t feel like a loser. I was just me. Andrea Merriman. Divorced single mother of four. I wasn’t embarrassed by the word “divorce” or to say it. It was my unexpected new “normal.”

Then I remarried.

And believe it or not, THAT has taken some getting used to. Again! For #5 and for me.

I’m calling them…second marriage moments. And the first one hit on the drive home from the honeymoon. Lets just say MOST of them have made me laugh:)

“Second marriage is the triumph of hope over experience.”

The Morning After

“You will never have buyer’s remorse with wood. You can change your furniture, window covering or color scheme, but the wood will always be there and most important, be appropriate. Look at Monticello–the original wood floors there are still magnificent.” (Ellen Paris)

The last hurdle to clear, the last bit of lunacy to confront following my remarriage, was the “morning after.” The very tiny part of me that feared I’d wake up, married to #5, and be seized by thoughts of, “Uh-oh. WHAT have I done?”

I never shared that with #5 though. I thought I was the only one with anything to fear upon awakening. However that night, our wedding night, before we fell asleep #5 looked over at me and expressed a fear of his own: “I have to warn you, with my hair this long, it’s not going to be pretty in the morning. I can’t guarantee what you’re going to see, crazy things happen to it while I sleep, brace yourself.”

Sometimes men and women are from different planets! There I was worrying about the possibility of major “morning after” regret–and #5 was warning me about his morning hair.

The next morning, I woke up. I hesitated for just a moment, a part of me was afraid to lift my eyes from the pillow and face my fear. But then I felt #5′s hand on my arm. I looked over at him. He was smiling, and he got right to the heart of the matter as he asked, ”Well? What do you think? How do you feel? Are you still happy?”

I’d never verbalized my fear, but he always seems to know what I’m worrying about anyway. And in that instant, a wave of peace and calm and happiness with #5 and my choice and the events of the day before washed over me. I detected absolutely NO REGRET. I replied, “I’m happy! And even happier that I have NO buyer’s remorse whatsoever!”

We had a great time in Las Vegas; we had a fabulous honeymoon; and we thoroughly enjoyed our time together. That “morning after” was the last little issue to resolve.

I’ve come to realize that, for me, anyway, ”The things which we fear the most in life have already happened to us.” (Robin Williams, One Hour Photo)

Another beauty of the unexpected life.

Honeymoon Highway

“I went to my room and packed a change of clothes, got my banjo, and started walking down the road. Soon I found myself on the open highway headed east.” (Burl Ives)

Departing for our honeymoon was sort of like that–except #5′s guitar and ukelele remained at home as we headed west!

My wedding had been perfect and absolutely everything I had dreamed it would be. As #5 drove toward our honeymoon destination, try as I might, I could not keep my eyes off him. But not for the reasons you might think.

He talked as he drove, I listened and responded, but I also (discreetly) checked him out. I thought I was being very sneaky about it, but a couple of times #5 stopped talking, looked over at me, smiled and slightly self-consciously (the way you do when someone is staring at you and you can’t imagine why) asked, “What?”

I’d reply, “Nothing. I just can’t believe you’re my husband. I can’t believe I am looking at my husband.” But that wasn’t the entire truth.

After the unexpected life that had become mine, I really couldn’t believe I was married again and that #5 was really my husband. But there was also a part of me that was looking for something else. (Now is where I will probably sound psychotic. But here goes.) I think I was looking for lies.

There was a small part of me (although it got smaller and smaller the longer we were engaged) that feared after loving and trusting #5 enough to marry him, and being unable to see any MAJOR flaws prior to that moment, that as soon as we were married I was suddenly going to be able to see some major red flags or flaws or problems I’d been too blind to discern before. To a small degree, I kept wondering if, or when, he was going to reveal his deep, dark secrets, shatter my world and leave me in a mess, wondering how I was going to pick up the pieces and keep going. Again.

I kept looking to gauge if he looked the same to me, or if he suddenly looked like a stranger now that he was my husband. I attempted to prepare myself for shocking revelations that were coming, so I could handle them the moment they hit and figure out how to help my kids get past them, too.

“It’s like a blind turn on a highway: You can’t see what’s coming, so you don’t really know how to prepare.” (Piper Perabo)

However, nothing came to light. There were no shocking revelations. He just looked totally familiar (and handsome!) to me. In fact, the only unfamiliar thing about him was the shiny metal ring on his left hand that I wasn’t used to seeing! (But I liked seeing it there–I’d never been married to a man who wore a wedding ring.)

So I kept quiet about what I was REALLY thinking–how do you explain serious psychosis like I was having to the man you’ve just married–and pulled myself together during the drive and was over it by the time we arrived at our destination: Las Vegas.

That only left one more fear to face.

My fear of the morning “after.”

More lunacy, coming right up. Tomorrow. Stay tuned.

“And it’s my opinion, and that’s only my opinion, you are a lunatic. Just because there are  a few hundred other people sharing your lunacy with you does not make you any saner.” (Oleg Kiseley)