There he was, standing in my driveway.
He was leaning just slightly against the garage door, grinning at me. I hadn’t seen him in over a month, and it took a moment to sink in. How was he here? He was supposed to be far, far away. How was he actually standing in my driveway?
But there he was. And within a second, I knew it wasn’t a dream. I knew he was real and I knew he had come for me. I ran to him as fast as I could and I threw my arms around him. “How are you here?” I kept saying, as he laughed and I cried and we kissed and embraced.
He was real. And he was here.
You’d think at this stage in my life, it would be hard to shock me. I know that crazy things can happen. I’ve lost both my mom and my husband decades before they should have died. I had a baby on my living room floor before the paramedics could arrive. I’m living through a damn global pandemic and haven’t hugged anyone outside my family in months. If there’s something crazy that’s going to happen, I know there’s at least a decent chance it will happen to me.
But let me say this: I was totally and completely surprised to see him standing there in my driveway.
I knew he loved me in that moment. I guess I knew it before, but I really knew it then.
Our romance was unique in many ways: separated by physical distance and a global pandemic, we began our connection not in person but instead via winding phone conversations each night. We joked that we were running a real-life “Love is Blind” experiment, though we’d already known one another for many years. And yet, there was so much we found out about each other over those late-night discussions. What did we want from life? What were our favorite things? Who did we most value in our lives?
What the future held was impossible to know. But after a few weeks, we knew one thing: we needed to see each other. He’d been in total isolation for over a month, and so had I. My kids knew him and wanted him to visit. Maybe he could come in a few months?
I didn’t think he’d show up so soon. But there he was, smiling and laughing and picking me up at the end of my driveway.
It was like magic.
And magic, of course, is not something that you get often in this life. If you’re lucky, you get it once.
And if you’re really lucky, you get it twice.
Is that what I am? Lucky? I mean, I feel really lucky right now. But I know the reason that I feel lucky is at least partially because I was really fucking unlucky to lose Shawn.
The crazy thing is, I’ve spent so much time since Shawn died dreaming about him coming back. I’d dream that he was actually lost, not dead, and in my dream he’d arrive at my door or in my bedroom or in the backyard, laugh at my worry and say, “of course I’m fine!”
I dreamed about him showing up, out of the blue, and having him back in my life.
But this man, the one who showed up in my driveway, he was not Shawn. He had a glint in his eye like Shawn, with a softness that Shawn had too. But he was most definitely not like Shawn in other ways, and my feelings towards him were separate as well.
And I felt so incredibly happy that he was there.
He was standing in my driveway, waiting for me. All I wanted in that moment was to jump into his arms, have him spin me around and tell me that he loved me. And that is what happened. It felt like a dream.
Once upon a time, I dreamed of this happening, only the person at the end of the driveway was Shawn. Now that it was happening with someone else, what did that mean?
I’m not sure. I’m not some sort of widow-guru who has all the answers to finding love after loss. Writing about all of this is hard, because I don’t really know the ending. But what I know is this: I still remember that dream I had about Shawn coming back. I still think about him every single day, and I’m not sure that will ever change.
But when I saw the man at the end of the driveway – the one who I’d somehow fallen in love with over the phone – when I saw him I knew only one thing: I wanted to be with him in that moment, and for as many moments as I could afterwards.
I wanted it to be him standing in the driveway.