My surprise “happily ever after”…

Today I made a new friend as I stood at the makeup mirror, and as I told her my professional background, somehow my conversation got more personal, and I started sharing my love story. As I neared the end of the story, I noticed the rest of the locker room at rapt attention.

“And that was 21 years ago today,” I ended, to a small chorus of “Happy anniversary!” and “Congratulations!” and my new friend’s “Wow, that is an amazing story.”

I didn’t write it, but I love to tell it. 

————-

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The Dagens, November 19, 1994

My life changed dramatically in 1991, when I lost my first husband, Bill, to complications after ulcer surgery. I was 26. We had married just over two years before, intending to have a storybook “happily ever after” ending after a long life together. But God had written a different story line for me…

At the time, I was a journalist, and about a year after Bill’s death, I decided to write a column about the experience of loving and then tragically losing this love of my life. Though I didn’t know it at the time, my future husband was reading it, and he found in me a kindred spirit. He had just lost his wife to cancer. Though he thought about calling me, he decided I would think him too weird. So he did the next best thing. He stalked my articles in the newspaper instead.

At the same time, a mutual friend, Becky Richburg, shared with me the heartache of losing a good friend to melanoma and asked for prayer for the husband and four children she left behind. And so I began praying for this man and his children.

I had wanted to be married again and had always wanted lots of children, but it seemed that God was carefully removing all dating prospects from my life. (That is a story in itself.) In July 1994,  the man who had read my column, Steve Dagen, ran into Becky at the YMCA pool. They started talking, and Steve said he was ready to date again but hadn’t found the right person. Did Becky know of anyone? She immediately thought of me — and Steve just as quickly recognized my name from the newspaper. After some conversation, he asked Becky to ask me for permission to call her. Realizing this was the family I had covered with prayer (plus that whole thing about no other male prospects), I said yes.

We met at a local restaurant for a blind date in which Steve brought a stack of photos of his children and, though I never saw him with a pen and paper, a checklist of questions as he interviewed me for the “position” of future wife. What I remember most from the first encounter is that he, too, ordered unsweetened iced tea with extra, extra lemon, that his line of questioning made me feel oddly competitive (as in “I WILL get this job”), and that he made it somewhat clear that he didn’t want to date for fun. He had an end goal.

I rather felt that by accepting a second date I was committing to marriage. By the time I returned home from work that day, he had left a message on my answering machine requesting that second date. I returned his call and said yes.

To make a quick romance story short, we fell in love and married 21 years ago on Steve’s birthday, presumably because he wanted me as his birthday present but, more likely, so he wouldn’t forget our anniversary.

I don’t think I could forget it.

You see, I believe God wrote this beautiful love story. He is the one who sees the end from the beginning and takes the accidents and tragedies of our lives and weaves them into something incomprehensibly good. That is why we included the verse from Romans 8:28 in our wedding program:

“And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (NASB).

God has a way of rewriting our stories and surprising us with our “happily ever afters” with Him.

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Posts for NaBloPoMo 2015:

  1. Why I love my hairstylist…
  2. To NaBloPoMo or not to NaBloPoMo? That is the question…
  3. No AC November…
  4. That dubious gift of an hour…
  5. I can’t wait to be discovered…
  6. Once an English teacher, always an English teacher…
  7. Of mice and men (or when you give a mouse a cookie)…
  8. When you replace people with possessions…
  9. Do what you know is right…
  10. When your eyes are bigger than your weekend…
  11. Attempting “The Glad Game”…
  12. When the Christian life is a bit too much like a political debate…
  13. Vertigo: When the world around you begins to spin…
  14. How our Mitsubishi van became blue…
  15. If she only knew…
  16. When everything feels like straw…
  17. Construction criticism (or where have all the detours gone?)…
  18. Don’t skimp on the showers…
  19. My surprise “happily ever after” …

 

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