Whether the death is sudden or you have time to plan, you are never prepared to lose your life partner. It is an experience for which I have no words. And yet, as some of you may recall, I recently spoke with Helen Mitternight of the Keep it Juicy! podcast about what it felt like to become a widow and how I survived. I found this was helpful for me, but no matter how much time passes or how much I try to mend my heart, the death of a spouse remains a world-changing experience.
We share a poignant, intensely personal conversation that I believe will help you find strength if you are, like me, a widow. I invite you to listen to this very private conversation, made public, here.
My story does not end with loss, however, because I found love again after my first husband’s death. Today I am re-sharing a story about new beginnings and how I — and you — can survive, and even thrive, when life throws knockdown blows our way.
Another World Changing Experience…
Meeting the love of my life is my personal fairy tale. The story starts out with a simple comment: “I’m not interested in dating,” I said to my dearest girlfriend when she mentioned the name of a man she wanted me to meet. We were walking along the Hawaiian shore at sunset. She was visiting me in Honolulu seven months after I became a widow. Little did I know that day my life would change forever. She turned a deaf ear to my comment about not being ready interested in finding love again yet. She knew we were meant for each other. She played Cupid! Because of her, Sheldon Good became the love of my life.
He called me in Honolulu.
“Hi, my name is Sheldon Good.”
“Hi,” I answered nervously.
“I know how you must be feeling. I lost my wife five years ago. Gail told me you were moving to Chicago. I would like to meet you. I think we have a lot in common.”
“I will be traveling to Chicago in a few months to look for an apartment.”
“I will wait! I will call you again to see how you are.”
“Thank you for calling.”
We hung up.
The First Time I Saw Him…
One day, soon after, my daughter called me into our den.
“Mom, Sheldon Good is being interviewed on television! Now you can see what he looks like and listen to what he has to say.” I ran. I listened. I looked. This was my first introduction to who would become my lifetime Valentine. He had a charm about him, a raspy firmness in his voice. I could feel his strength come through the screen.
Two months later, I flew back to the mainland to my family and into the arms of Sheldon Good.
He picked me up on a cool and beautiful November day. I was so nervous. This was my first date in 24 years! I walked through the glass revolving doors of the apartment building and could see him getting out of his black Jaguar in a dark suit, white shirt and beautiful tie and my heart went “Pitter patter!” He was dazzling. I was stunned by my feelings. I thought to myself, “What is happening to me!? I am so attracted to him, and we have not even yet met! OMG!”
He took my hand and said, “I feel like I have known you a long time.” And, helped me into the car. We arrived at the Pump Room, a beautiful restaurant where he asked the Maître D’ for a “room for two” meaning to say, “a table for two!” The Maître D’, knowing him, smiled and chuckled. I stood there, only feeling my heart go pitter patter!
Two hours into our non-stop conversation he looked into my eyes said, “I am going to marry you… as long as you are not crazy.”
My heart again went pitter-patter, “I am not crazy,” I replied. I smiled. He knew.
And then he proceeded to go down his list of what he wanted in a wife.
- Physical attraction
- Grown children
- From out of town
- Financially secure
- Good family
I was all of those things. I was even from out of town! A small town girl from “Kankakee by the Sea” who had made a home in Honolulu.
He left two days later for a very important three-day business meeting. I flew back to Hawaii having accomplished my goal of finding an apartment around the corner from my parents. I was going to move to Chicago with my children and pets, a year and a day after I was widowed.
A Momentary Doubt…
During the next two months, he called and sent charming presents. And then one day he said: “I am going to Palm Springs in January. I would like you to meet me.”
I blurted out, “I cannot meet you! I hardly know you!”
He was speechless for several moments. He stuttered and said, “Well, think about it.” And we hung up.
Taking a Risk and Finding Love…
I had to talk to someone. I choose my great Aunt Dorothy. She was not five feet tall and in her eighties. She had “joie de vivre” and would pull no punches.
“Aunt Dorothy, Shelly Good wants me to meet him in Palm Springs. I told him ‘no.’”
“What! You told him no? Go out and buy yourself a beautiful new wardrobe, hop on that plane and go!”
We hung up. Then I called my Aunt Essie. She was old-fashioned, calm and loving.
Her response, “Dear, I think you should go.” I spoke to my daughters and my mom. Different words, but all the same message.
I flew off into the arms of Sheldon Good on January 12, one year and one day after my husband’s death. I have never left his arms.
Fairy Tale, Fairy Princess…
We had a whirlwind courtship. My life mirrored “Pretty Woman.” I felt like a fairy princess. Traveling the world, candle lit dinners, holding hands in Venice or Central Park, unexpected and beautiful gifts, long and intimate conversations. Talks of our future.
He proposed as we were flying across the ocean to Europe! The sun was beginning to set in the West. We had champagne. We had each other. He was my only date after losing Michael. He told me, “I feel like I’m marrying the Virgin Mary!”
There was no stopping us! We were married on December 22, (double numbers in Chinese folklore is “good” luck) my favorite time of the year.
Twenty-five years later, my pitter-pattering heart still belongs to Shelly Good. His devotion is unprecedented. He is my soulmate and best friend. I often say to him, “If I could have one wish it would be to relive our life together.” There is no one I admire and love more than my husband, Shelly.
No fairy tale romance is complete without what makes my heart continue to pitter-patter. When he looks me in the eye and says in his raspy voice, “Suzi, the best is yet to come!” It makes me so happy because I want to and am living my happily ever after, with Shelly Good.
My wish for you, dear readers, is that you too have found love that is limitless, be it from your partner, your family or even friends. Do you have a story of true love to share? Do tell!