In How I Met My Late Husband — Part 1, I talked about how my late husband, Steve, and I met for the first time in that fateful little workroom — or so it seemed. Now the story continues in this, Part 2…
I had just given my on-location client two-weeks notice, as I was going to be working again from home for a different client. On my very last day, an editor from the company came into the little workroom to say goodbye to me. During the conversation, I said to her, “You know, I haven’t always been a graphic designer. I started my career as an editor, just like you.”
“Really? Where?” she asked.
I told her the name of the company where I was a production editor in the 1980s… and out of the corner of my eye, I saw Steve, sitting at his computer, staring at me as if he had seen a ghost.
I turned to him and asked, “What’s the matter with you?”
With that troubled look still on his face, he said to me, “That’s where my ex-wife works.”
“Oh my God!” I exclaimed. “You’re Linda’s husband.”
Suddenly, it made sense why his last name sounded so familiar. I could only think of one person that I knew of who had that last name — Linda.
Ah… Linda. Perfect Linda.
I worked with Linda very early on in my career. I worked at that company from 1987 until 1989, and she joined just about six months before I left.
“Oh wow — I’ve met you! I met you before,” I said to him. “Linda introduced me to you!” All the memories instantly flooded back into my brain! Steve didn’t remember initially, although he claimed to later. But me… I never forgot that day.
I was leaving work, heading down a hallway by all of our cubicles toward the back door to the parking lot. And there, standing before me, was Linda and some guy with whom she was being very lovey-dovey.
“Oh, God,” I thought to myself upon seeing them.
You see, Linda was everything I was not. She was a tall, very pretty blue-eyed blonde with cute bobbed hair, and she was always impeccably dressed. In my mind, she easily could have been a model.
She had a long leather coat — it was really gorgeous, and yet, totally out of my league. My blue-collar background wouldn’t even let me consider spending that kind of money on a coat. But boy, it was beautiful.
I was envious of her — no doubt about it. I coveted everything about her — her looks, her clothes, that leather coat, even her briefcase — and most of all, how pulled together she was. I mean, she totally had it going on.
Maybe not so perfect after all…
Except that she was, in my opinion, not nice. To me, she seemed very cold and reserved. She didn’t say much. In my eyes, she wasn’t very friendly. Now, I can be introverted myself, but I talk, I’m friendly, and I say hello to people. Everytime I walked down that hallway by the cubicles, I would say hi to Linda if I saw her walking toward me. She would always say hi back, but it was almost as if it strained her to do so. She rarely smiled. I wondered to myself, if I didn’t say hi to Linda first, would she bother to say hi to me at all?
One day, I tested her. We were walking toward each other in the hallway. I looked right at her, but I didn’t say a word. She put her head down and walked past me, without saying a thing.
OK. I got my answer.
Like I always knew him — again
This time, seeing the two of them making out in the hallway and giving each other googly eyes, I thought, “Of course, Linda would have a great-looking boyfriend to go along with everything else she’s got going for her. Perfect.”
At that point, I just wanted to get past them and get out of there. They were totally blocking my way. I tried to slink on by. “Goodnight, Linda,” I said.
And here’s why I always thought I had never forgotten that day: Her eyes suddenly lit up! The woman who never smiled suddenly beamed a huge smile at me. She was absolutely glowing as she said, “Oh, Pat! I want you to meet my husband!”
Those were probably the most words she had ever said to me since she started working at the company. The woman who never talked to me — who wouldn’t even say hello to me as she passed me by in the hallway — is now talking to me.
“Oh…” I thought to myself. “Of course. I get it. You want to show off what you’ve got.” I knew there had to be a reason.
“This is my husband, Steve,” she continued. Husband — Wait. What? Wow. She’s married? I was only 25 at the time, so I was a little shocked to learn that. I reached out my hand to him, and he shook it. “Hi, Steve,” I said cordially.
“Hi, how are you?” he said enthusiastically, with his big sincere smile and his warm eyes. Two thoughts ran through my mind at that very moment:
“Gee… He’s really nice. What’s he doing with someone like her?” His sweet personality seemed nothing like hers. Looking back, of course, I can think of plenty of reasons why he was with her.
“Wow! He makes you feel like you’ve known him your entire life.”
Fast forward to the workroom. I’m standing in front of Steve, and now I’m probably the one that looks like she has seen a ghost. I realized that exactly what I remembered about him from 16 years before was exactly how I felt about him when I met him — again — 16 years later. He hadn’t changed. And my visceral emotional response to him hadn’t changed either. Not one bit.
As I said in Part 1, when I thought I was meeting him for the first time, my reaction and thoughts were exactly the same: Wow. This guy makes you feel like you’ve known him your entire life.
So there we were, the two of us, instantaneously with something in common — Linda. Of all things.
When I first met Steve, he was, of course, married to her. I, likewise, was engaged to my first husband, Michael. I was also 25, and Steve was 33. Had I met him before I had met Mike, I’m sure he would have passed me off as some young little pipsqueak. As it was even back to that first moment, standing there in my K-Mart blue light special ensemble, with full-on metal braces and a bad perm, I wasn’t exactly dating material for an older, handsome, professionally established, well-to-do guy from Chicago’s North Shore.
Yep — clearly not meant to be. At least, not then.
But that was then — and this was now.
A purpose and a reason to be
Serendipity. Does God have a plan for all of us? Is there such a thing as fate? Did Steve and I meet 16 years earlier for a reason? And did God plant that memory in my mind, not because Linda finally acknowledge my presence, but instead because he wanted me to recognize Steve — the man of my dreams and the love of my life — when he re-entered my life yet again?
I don’t know the answer to that one. But I like to believe that I remembered because I was supposed to remember.
Steve offered to carry my belongings to the car as I was leaving the company. We got to the car, and he put them into the trunk. I turned to him and said, “Well, Steve, it’s been great to know you,” and I reached out my hand to shake his. He would have none of that. He hugged me. And yet again, I realized… Hmmmm… There’s something more here than meets the eye.
Once I had gotten settled in my new house (my “dream house” — you can read about it HERE), I opened up my email for the first time in about two weeks… and waiting there in the inbox was an email from Steve. He had written me just to see how I was doing.
I promptly wrote him back and invited him to see my new big ass TV, just as I had offered in the little workroom. He accepted the invitation. And the rest, as they say, is history.
A few months later, when we were first dating, I emailed him a note, expressing how I was somewhat dumbfounded by our relationship — how it felt like a fairy tale. You know, the white knight showing up — finding my prince charming. Could it be real?
And this is what he said in his reply:
I’ve always believed that, no matter what, everything has a purpose and a reason to be. We needed each other, and we needed to be together at this time in our lives.
I can’t say I didn’t shed some tears as I wrote this story. But they are happy tears — tears of joy for all the joy that Steve gave me during the incredibly short nine years that I knew him. And I live in great faith that I’ll see him again, because I do believe that we are all here for a reason — a reason that survives even our death. Life goes on… and Steve lives on in my heart.