September 24, 2013: A Chance Meeting

Our first date in Omaha 2009
A Godwink. A message of God's love and reassurance. When it happens, you know from the bottom of your heart that the only explanation is that it was a "God thing".

I had a Godwink in the fall of 2009. I was in the middle of my divorce and couldn't see the light at the end of the tunnel. On a Saturday that was supposed to be a travel day, I woke up to an early-October ice storm. My house was eerily quiet with the typical chaos of three boys absent as it was their dad's weekend. I was home alone.

I had a planned event to occupy my weekend; a quick trip to Denver. As a member of a national consulting group, AHA, I met with these long-time friends and colleagues annually. This year's meeting was in Denver. A meeting I typically looked forward to, I instead dreaded. I had developed cold feet and wanted to stay home.

Over the fifteen years that I belonged to this group, I was most times accompanied by my then-husband. Now absent a husband, I dreaded the explanation of this omission. The haven of my quiet home sounded much better.

The unexpected ice storm helped in my convincing myself that the trip was not meant to be. With two hours before takeoff, I sat on an unmade bed staring at my laptop; the "cancel reservation" option on the Southwest website was staring back at me. But I couldn't do it. Something moved me not to push the button. I knew that I needed to go.

Following my mother's ongoing advice to always put my best foot forward with a smile on my face, I gave myself an attitude adjustment. So wearing my most flattering sweater dress and favorite boots, I packed my bag and dragged my butt to the airport.

Saturday night was our group kick-off dinner in Denver. As I suspected, there were questions. Of which I gave short, polite answers. And I survived. Not as bad as I thought. Sunday was our business meeting with speaker presentations. The speaker was introduced as Garrett Brucker.

As Garrett spoke, I appreciated his client service model and felt his approach in business mirrored my own. I remember wishing he was in Omaha as there was no doubt that we "spoke the same language" and would work very well together. I also noted that Garrett was good looking and articulate.

Needless to say, I had lots of questions for the speaker during the presentation; waiting for a formal introduction at the close. We shook hands and exchanged pleasantries while walking out together with another AHA colleague. We talked football and kids and enjoyed some light conversation.

As the colleague went off, I quickly realized that I was going down a hotel escalator alone with this seemingly single and good-looking speaker. The meeting was held at a downtown Denver hotel. I suddenly felt very single and panicked. I shook Garrett's hand, thanked him for his presentation and abruptly left.

Garrett will tell this story a bit differently. His memory is of me being engrossed in my Blackberry; not paying him the time of day. He was hoping that we could grab a beer at the hotel bar and watch the rest of the Broncos game. He didn't read my panic, but did know that I wasn't keen to a beer.

So that was it. What should have been the end of the story. A good business meeting and a chance encounter. But the look in his eyes stayed with me. It struck me that Garrett had very kind eyes. And there was some hurt in there too. I have always professed that a person's eyes are the doorway to their heart. The look in his eyes stayed on my mind.

Sunday night ended up being a less than stellar experience in Denver. What I hoped to avoid post-married life, I dealt with firsthand. The kindness I saw in Garrett was not reflective of the company I kept over dinner that night. As I took a cab to the airport Monday morning, I reflected on the weekend and regretted my Sunday afternoon panic attack.

There was an unexplained connection between Garrett and I. For reasons that I have no explanation other than I felt a nudge to do so, I found Garrett's e-mail on the last page of his printed presentation as I rifled through my computer bag. I then drafted an e-mail to him on my infamous Blackberry.

"Hi, Garrett. This is Sandy Lane from AHA. We met after your presentation yesterday. Do you do business in Nebraska?"

Within a minute I got a response asking me to meet him for coffee. He also asked how my son came out at his football game. After some exchanges, we concluded that a meeting wasn't meant to be as I was leaving town. We agreed to stay in touch and schedule a conference call later in the week.

Much later Garrett explained his confusion on the timing of my e-mail with my exit out of town. He never expected to hear back from me.

Later that week, I was home with a sick child. As I was cleaning out my computer bag, I stumbled on Garrett's presentation which was flipped open to his contact information. I remembered our promised conference call and his kind eyes. Without hesitation, I followed up and an Outlook invite was accepted for Friday.

I contemplated cancelling the call on Friday as it was a crazy day and I was spent. But once again, I couldn't push the cancel button. Garrett called at our scheduled time and we talked business for an hour. I did grill him a bit like an interview, but he passed with flying colors. I really liked him. I was convinced that we were cut from the same cloth.

I do have to confess that by the end of that Friday afternoon call, I had Googled Garrett as I poured myself a glass of wine. At the top of my Google search was his Facebook page. I decided to "Friend" him, but would wait until Sunday night. I didn't want to come across as too forward.

As we hung up, I stared at the "Add Friend" button on his Facebook page. I reminded myself of my plan to not appear too forward. And then as I took another sip of wine, I promptly clicked the friend request.

Garrett later said he was taken aback by the personal request within seconds of our hanging up. But he accepted in an equally prompt manner. After a flurry of FB messages back and forth and then e-mails, we started a personal friendship. Since that Friday afternoon four years ago, a day hasn't gone by without Garrett and I talking.

By Sunday night of that same weekend, we talked on the phone for hours. As I sat in the corner of my closet, tucked away from my sleeping kids, Garrett and I sharing our life stories; our heart breaks, our struggles, and our faith. It really was like we knew each other forever. The similarities in our life situations and our life stories were uncanny. And we really were cut from the same cloth.

Our friendship grew. The 550 miles between us seemingly took away the uncomfortable feeling that goes with the potential of a relationship. Garrett was a blessing to me.

A month later Garrett asked me out in the middle of a random phone conversation. I was professing to him my desire not to go out on blind dates. The idea sounded miserable to me. I shared with Garrett that I would only date men of whom I shared chemistry.

"We have chemistry. Why don't we go out?" was Garrett's response.

I responded by laughing and asking him to research the drive between our cities. He proposed meeting halfway. I proposed that he Google North Platte and then get back to me. We laughed it off and nothing more was said. Until the following weekend.

I kept thinking about Garrett's comment. Instead of thinking of reasons why we shouldn't go out on a date, I started thinking of reasons why we should. So I brought it up again.

"I believe you asked me out on a date the other night. If you did, I'm in."

I volunteered to fly to him. And that I did. Our weekend consisted of Garrett treating me to margaritas and Mexican. We talked endlessly, walked his dogs, visited his grandfather at the nursing home, and hiked in Boulder. A perfect weekend.

Our chance meeting while overcoming so many obstacles was nothing short of a Godwink. God had a plan. Together we've survived the pains of divorce, the challenges of single parenthood; all while accepting our failings and forging ahead in our new lives together. And now you know the rest of the story.

"When God winks, He is reaffirming that there is absolutely nothing about us that He does not know - our hurt, our every desire.  And that to me is very comforting." ~ Squire Rushnell


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