July 11, 2017: And They Lived Happily Ever After...

Top Left - happy, geriatric animals in Omaha
Top Right - together is a beautiful thing
Bottom - the 'moral' of the story

A picture is worth a thousand words. But let's start with six...

"And they lived happily ever after..."

I bought this little sign more than seven years ago. It caught my eye at Target while shopping for milk and kitty litter on a weekday school night. The boys were in varying grades in school and I was single-handedly running my daily household.

Recently divorced, I was also dating a man from Denver. Garrett. Our relationship felt like forever, but the 550 miles between our homes was a stark reminder that our long-distance relationship was more like a fairytale than reality. We were reminded of this frequently by the people who knew us best.

"Guard your heart. Long distance relationships rarely work out."

"You are both good people, so be realistic in where this is going."

But the funny thing about love is that no matter how practical-minded or mature your mindset, your heart guides you to places that are scary to others, but quite comfortable for you.

I knew Garrett was the one. I knew this to be true. My soulmate, forever favorite companion, and best friend. Practical words and conventional wisdom on how two single parents with seven combined children in two separate cities could not possibly make this relationship work went to deaf ears.

Instead, I bought my 'Happily Ever After' sign and promptly hung it on top of the doorway of my closet. For the last seven years, I have frequently looked up at this sign while praying a silent prayer and working through a day of being physically alone. When the head questions, the heart guides. I knew Garrett and my day would come.

So life kept happening for us. One by one, our kids moved out of our Denver and Omaha homes and moved on with their lives. Garrett and I would carefully plan our schedules to be together as often as possible. Our goal was to allow all our kids to be by both their parents and lead as normal lives as possible while Garrett and I maintained two homes, two cities, two lives. Our time together was always wonderful. Absence does make the heart grow fonder. I can personally vouch for that. But we longed for the day to be together all the time.

This summer Garrett's household of kids went empty with an ex-wife moving to New York City and with his youngest son starting high school there. As planned, we put the Denver house up for sale with anticipation of choosing our final destination city with the accommodations of surrounding mountains and other recreations of nature, but with a smaller population than our homes of today.

The short-term plan was for Garrett to continue to teach at Montana State this school year while Grant and I wrapped up his senior year in high school in Omaha. Although I will likely always have a place to land in Omaha, Garrett and my long-term plan is to pick a new city as our foothold. And since we have this long-term, traveling gig down (eight LONG years of practice), what was another year of waiting?

Then my husband surprised me. He chose me. He chose us. Eight years was too long to be apart. He was packing up for Omaha. No more flying back and forth. No more FaceTime calls each night and texting when we woke up. No more talking about our 'marathons' in between seeing each other and longing for the day when we could wake up together each morning. Rather than a year from now, that day has started......now.

Of all the surprises and gifts I have been given in life, this tops all as the best. Like a fairytale, I felt a bit swept off my feet. So often people take for granted the simple things in life that bring joy. No one can truly understand the happiness of togetherness unless they have felt the emptiness of being apart.

So here we are in a zen-like state. I have my husband. Everyday. We will plan our next stop together and work through our 'Top 5 City' list. Together. The animals are thrilled and love to be part of our routine. Grant is happy being a senior and most happy that his mom is happy. I never knew normal could feel so good.

Thursday we fly to Bozeman, Montana to get the last of our belongings there and the next week is our Denver move and closing on the house sale. For the first time in our lives as a couple, we will be down to one home. Normal to most is now new and exciting for us.

And happily ever after never felt so good..... :)

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