Yesterday I shared a column I wrote for my local newspaper in 1992. (This post would make more sense if you’ve read that one first.) At the time, it garnered a lot of attention, and I received a multitude of cards, letters, and even phone calls in response to it. The column particularly reached the heart of one man who chose not to call or write. His wife was dying of cancer at the time, and he was living the pain I expressed. Thereafter, he followed my “Sara Olson” byline–until he changed it. To “Sara Dagen.” Our love story is also one that deserves publication. I thought I would share it today using two of my reflections from the early years.
In 1994, I married Steve, and that year I wrote a letter to accompany our Christmas card. Here are the main excerpts:
Dear friends and family,
As I reached into my purse last Sunday at church, searching for a tissue for the nearly 10-year-old boy sitting next to me, I realized I was a mother. Maybe not in the biological sense. But some inborn trait caused me to locate a severely wrinkled, presumably unused tissue and hand it off to this child I am now calling “son.”
In the past month, I’ve had to stop myself from moistening a tissue with saliva to wipe the dirty face of another small child I’ve started raising as my own. I’ve worried over what friends the children are playing with and where they’re playing. I’ve baked brownies for husband Steve’s work and one son’s class at school. I’ve attended school plays, organized a birthday party, and walked five classes of fourth-graders through Christmas cookie decorating.
It’s a new life. For those of you have been receiving newsletters from Sara Souders Olson or Steve Dagen these past years, you’ll notice some new faces. God has answered your prayers and ours. The Dagens have an addition to their family–Sara Dagen. And Sara has FIVE additions to her family.
Meet the Dagens: Steve; Sara; Stephen, 10 (on Christmas day); Ben, 8; Laura, 5; and Andrew Jonathan (A.J.), 3. (The photo at the top of this post was included in each letter.)
Sara lost her first husband, Bill, in October of 1991. He died unexpectedly from complications after ulcer surgery. A journalist, Sara decided about a year after Bill’s death to write about the experience of losing her mate–and Steve read it. Finding a kindred spirit in the column’s author, he looked Sara’s number up in the phone book, but then decided she would think him too weird if he called. So he didn’t. But he did start following her articles in the newspaper.
At the same time, a mutual friend, Becky Richburg, shared with Sara the heartache of losing a good friend, Mary Lee Dagen, to melanoma and asked for prayer for the husband and four children she left behind. Sara prayed, not even knowing their names.
Both Sara and Steve had the desire to be married again–and Sara had the desire to have a number of children (silly me!). In July, Steve ran into Becky Richburg (we call her “Yentl the matchmaker”) at the YMCA pool. The started talking, and Steve said he was ready to be married again but hadn’t found the right person. Did Becky know of anyone? She immediately thought of Sara–and Steve immediately recognized her name from the newspaper. After some conversation, Steve asked Becky to ask Sara’s permission to call her. And Sara, realizing this was the family she had prayed for with Becky, said yes.
To make a quick romance story short, the two fell in love. They were engaged Sept. 9 and married Nov. 19, on Steve’s 38th birthday.
Sara quit her job at the newspaper and is now a full-time mom and wife. …
Sara is adjusting to life as a mother, although she’s a bit too sensitive and takes things a bit too personally. Steve is a great support system and constantly says, “It’s just an opportunity to grow, honey.” … Steve is adjusting to having somebody else who THINKS in the house–and someone who snores when she has a cold. He’s also finding time to play plumber and Mr. Fixit for the first time in a long time. He’s laughing a lot (not while working on the plumbing, mind you) and spending more quality time with the children. We’re even sneaking in a date here and there.
It’s been an incredible year. God has blessed us beyond what we could ask or think. We’re looking forward to an especially joyous Christmas as we celebrate together as a family. Thanks for your prayers and remembrances of us. We love you!
Steve, Sara, Stephen, Ben, Laura, and A.J.
Just after Mother’s Day the following year, a mere five months after the Christmas letter, I began working on a family scrapbook, and this is how I begin:
Last July, these five people entered my life–to change it forever… Steve, Stephen, Ben, Laura, and A.J. Dagen. Names imprinted on my heart for all eternity, I am sure. Today is May 19, 1995, the six-month anniversary of my wedding to Steve and the whole bunch.
This past Sunday, I celebrated my first Mother’s Day as a mother–and I am blessed beyond measure. On Monday, Laura said to me, “Mom? Oh, forget it.” I asked the 5-year-old what she wanted, and she said, “I forgot that you don’t have any As in your name.” When I, Sara, new mom, started to correct her, she said, with emphasis: “Mom.” My heart cheered!
The next day, 3-year-old A.J. said to me, “Mom, remember when I was a baby and … ” I don’t even remember what he was talking about–but my heart is honored to be considered his mom. I don’t want the children to forget their precious biological mother who died in 1992, but I yearn to be their mother as much as Joseph longed to be a father to his adopted son, Jesus.
Thank you, heavenly Father, for this blessed union.
I would be remiss to say that my life with Steve and our children has been all romance and roses. It has been a rocky road–and not always as sweet as the ice cream with that name! However, despite the bumps and bruises along the way, I am glad that God has made all things work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose, which includes me and my beloved Steve (Romans 8:28). God’s ways are infinitely higher than my ways (and somewhat mysterious at times!), but while “truth is stranger than fiction,” it certainly makes for great stories (Isaiah 55:9). And I like the story lines God has created in my life! Devastatingly painful at times? Skyrocketing happiness at others? Always requiring faith for the walk? Absolutely! Ultimately, it ends well, for I will see Jesus face-to-face, and I will be in good company, surrounded by those I love.