Ben's story is in bold. Judy's is in regular type…
Ben: It all began with a wonderful woman seeing a side of a man that no-one had ever seen before, not even the man himself.
Judy: He’s not giving himself enough credit, I’m sure there have been others who have seen the kind, gentle, loving man he is.
Weary from life’s battles and the harsh, sometimes judgmental comments
of others, I came to CM just looking for a friend. I found that and so
much more when I received an emotigram simply saying “Judy is praying
Judy: I sent that on February 11, 2006 in
response to a posting of his where he mentioned the insensitive
comments women had made regarding his daughter. As a single parent
myself, I was incensed for him, and wanted to let him know he wasn’t
alone. He emoted back, and since at the time we were only allowed one
emote per day, I emailed him asking about his children…. And we started
chatting online that night… for FIVE hours. I certainly wasn’t
expecting anything other than commiseration. Having just been to NYC
Lovefest in January, I had decided to stop searching (after 3 ½ years
on the site), and just enjoy the fora.
Judy’s messages, chats, and eventually kind words over the phone, left
me feeling refreshed and renewed, which, frankly, scared me half to
death at the time.
Judy: Did it ever. He spent hours
during our second (NINE HOUR) phone call trying to scare me off. I
thank God every day that I didn’t allow myself to get spooked, and am
convinced that it was only because of some very powerful intercessors –
as I, myself, was skittish and afraid to trust again.
Having heard her experiences, I found it amazing that my words didn’t
scare her off. Her trust had been abused before and I was extremely
blunt about things I had done in my past that made me think I wasn’t
trustworthy. So when the things I said didn’t scare her off, the
question I most often asked myself was “what’s wrong with this woman?”
Judy: There was nothing wrong with me, he just overestimated his past’s “scare” value.
I have to admit that I was the one who was probably more scared. Just
from talking to Judy I already thought she was an incredible woman. I
was scared I would mess up like I’d always felt I had in the past and
hurt her, or that I’d fall for her and she’d find out later on that I
really wasn’t the man she thought I was.
Judy: I could
tell from the way he spoke about being a father, that here was a good,
godly, loving man; one whom I could trust with my heart, and those of
my children. Given my children’s lack of a good, involved father, this
was of primary importance to me. Just as he was afraid he’d mess up, I
was terrified that I would – especially as I’d been blamed for the
circumstances leading to my divorce – which made me believe that I was
short time went by and I finally agreed to meet Judy. I was really
scared then. After all, if just talking could make me feel this
strongly, what could meeting do? But she presented the illusion of
calm, which helped to ease my anxieties.
Judy: It was
definitely an illusion, I was a nervous wreck! I wanted so much to make
a good first impression on him. It took me three days and countless
consultations with friends to decide what to wear, and how to do my
Ben: The night before we
met, her oldest daughter said she wanted to talk to me. Her first words
to me were, “My mom’s really nervous!”
Judy: I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide when she said that. I was so glad he couldn’t see just how red my face got!
Ben: Her middle child then decided she wanted to get in on the action by asking me about my dogs.
Judy: my dd#2 is obsessed with dogs!
Ben: Ironically, that night before and during that day, I began to feel calmer. At least until I got there.
I, on the other hand, was terrified he’d take one look at me and be
disappointed. I was so very nervous, but not because I was afraid of
what I’d find in him…. (as I’d been on other f2f’s) but because it was
so very important to me that it go well. For the first time, I was
afraid that he wouldn’t like me – because I already liked him so very
much (regardless of the fact that I knew better than to get my heart
involved before meeting).
Ben: The day finally came
Judy: The feast of the Annunciation – and we’d made the decision to meet on St. Joseph’s feast day.
It was one of the most incredible days of my life. It was like I had
been in a cocoon for so long, and finally emerged on that day. It was a
little weird adjusting to the new wings, but quite a feeling. Though I
didn’t say it that night, I had fallen in love.
When Ben got to the mall and parked – out in no man’s land – and then
came to find me, he couldn’t see me at first… I am shorter than the
majority of the cars that were parked near me. When he finally saw me,
waving madly, I saw his whole face light up and he ran to me across the
lot and caught me up in a huge hug that felt like home. And in spite of
my claustrophobia, I didn’t want him to let go. It was amazing to me
that I, with my intense need for a great deal of personal space,
couldn’t get close enough to this man I had just met. We walked arm in
arm, sat holding hands, and only let go of each other to eat dinner
(during which we were annoyed by an intrusive waiter who couldn’t seem
to tell that we just wanted to talk with each other). He kept giving me
these intense looks with those beautiful eyes that made me feel all
flustered, and set the butterflies in motion.
Within a couple of weeks of that night, we got to meet each other’s
kids, and all the kids got to meet each other. I think one would need a
lobotomy not to be aware that something special was really taking place
here. It was like we were all pieces of a puzzle but nobody knew until
now that we were pieces of the same puzzle.
he’s neglected to tell you is just how terrified I was to meet his
daughter – the same day I was meeting the rest of his family – aunts,
uncles, cousins, brother, father…. ALL of them! He also didn’t tell you
about the Easter triduum. For the first time since my 13-year old was
born, I went to Easter vigil mass (their father had them, and for the
first time in thirteen Easters, I was childless on Easter vigil). I
went to his parish, where he cantors, and hearing him sing the second
reading in full operatic voice put the lid on it – I was in love with
this loving, gentle man with the voice of an angel.
What happened between April and July is difficult to describe. It all
seemed to happen in the blink of an eye. I knew this is where I wanted
to be. It was still difficult to take that step, just because there was
so much that I expected of myself before then. It took me a long time
to realize that I didn’t have to do everything in the whole wide world
to be good enough in her eyes. I’m not used to that.
In his previous relationships, he always was given the impression that
he had to be perfect, and do everything to make the relationship work.
He still puts so much pressure on himself to be that perfect man. I
have tried to tell him that I don’t want perfect – that would make me
feel even more that I don’t deserve him. Him just being himself is more
than good enough for me.
Like I said, I’m not used to that. Even when it comes to parenting, I
received a lot of criticism in past relationships from women who had no
experience parenting. Hearing compliments on the father I am from the
woman I want by my side when raising children, especially when I think
she’s a fantastic mother herself, has been quite a welcome change and a
Judy: He is amazing with our children, and having him as a parenting ally has been a tremendous blessing to me.
So July 2nd came, and we all went to a ballgame that day. We were going
on a family vacation the following day, and it was time to pop the
question. I hadn’t actually planned what date I was going to do it, or
even necessarily how, but that night as we all sat there on the couch,
and I had the ring in my pocket, I knew that was the moment to do it. I
proposed with all the kids there.
Judy: Ben was so cute,
standing shuffling his feet, starting and stopping his speech. When he
dropped to one knee, my heart skipped a beat or two or three, and with
joy in my heart, I answered with an unreserved YES.
When Judy said yes, the whole room erupted into a great big dogpile
group hug. The kids all jumped up and down and shared their excitement
about the prospect of being all one family.
Judy: All four children had to make calls to friends to let them know, they were so excited.
Ben: The puzzle was put together, and the picture sure looked good.
the intercession of Ben’s mother, a dear friend’s father, Our Blessed
Mother and St. Joseph, our two lonely, broken hearts have found
completion and healing in each other.