“I met Don in July 2013. I was at a fundraiser that was being held at a bar, talking to a guy I haven’t seen in 20 something years. He was friends with Don and told him to come to the bar. We are sitting outside, and up walks Don. I still remember what he was wearing — a bright blue Under Amor compression t-shirt, ripped jeans, and grey Under Amor shoes. Don walked up smiling and wow. His smile lit up his whole face. I had a broken ankle at the time, but we started talking and getting to know each other and found out that while we have a lot of things in common, we are total opposites. I was 29 years old, and he was 51.
We were doing the usual, ‘Are you married? Where ya from? Any kids?’ type of questions. Then we found the biggest thing that formed a bond between us. We both hate the day May 11th. On Sunday, May 11, 2003, I lost my daughter, Riley. She was stillborn at 20 weeks. On Sunday, May 11, 2008, Don lost his son, Zack, in a drunk driving accident. Zack was a few weeks shy of turning 24 years old. It was Mother’s Day both years.
Finding out we both hate May 11th was a shock to both of us. Then finding out that we both hate it because we each lost a child on that day, and then it was Mother’s Day both times, was a huge blow. It seemed like more than just a coincidence. It was like fate was saying, ‘Here is someone who knows how you are feeling. They know the heartache, the pain, and the hole in your heart that will never be filled. Here is someone who can hold you up on your down days and lift you higher on your good days. Here is someone who you can cry with and laugh with and they will understand.’ That’s not something you get every day or with everyone.
Neither one of us was looking for a relationship or love. I had just moved back in with my mom a few months prior to help take care of my daddy who had cancer, and Don was in the middle of a divorce. We decided to just be friends and hang out whenever he was back home from work. He was working in West Virginia at the time. During the two weeks that he was gone, we would be texting and calling and getting to know each other more.
When we finally decided to start dating, he asked my youngest daughter, Alivia, if he could date me, and she said yes. She was attached to him the first time they met. On our first date, I was nervous. I had never really been on a date before since I was married at 17 years old. While we have a lot in common like our hatred for May 11th, our taste in music, taste in food and love for Sci-Fi things, we are total opposites. I’m ready for bed by 8-9 p.m. and he can stay awake all night playing video games or wanting to go out. I read A LOT and he will fall asleep on the first page of a book. He likes being outside and I’d rather be inside. He is an adventurous, spur of the moment type person, and I’m more of a ‘let’s a list and plan things out so I know what I’m doing’ type of person. He is confident and I’m well, not. He’s tall and I am short. These things make our relationship better in my opinion. He makes me try new things and get out of my bubble and I remind him that’s there a time and a place for everything. He keeps me young and I keep him old.
In 2014, we moved to his old hometown and bought some property and I started college at Nicholls State University. Since I have been in school, he has become my biggest supporter (besides my mama and my kids). We talked about just staying in a relationship and not getting married since he’s been married twice before, once as a teen and then again in his early 20s, and I was married as a teen as well.
On February 13, 2015, we decided to beat the crowds and celebrate Valentine’s Day early. We went to dinner before going to see ‘50 Shades of Grey.’ We are at the theater and he kept looking around and being all antsy. I called him out on it and he settled down. We got home and around midnight, he got up and walked into the kitchen. He came back into our room and kneeled on the bed and asked me if I loved him. I said, ‘Well, yeah.’ He asked if I was sure and I said yes. Then he reached behind him and pulled out a ring and asked if I would marry him. I questioned him for 5 minutes, asking if he was serious and telling him not to play with me. After I was sure he was being serious, I yelled ‘Yes!’ I honestly had no idea and was shocked as all get out.
We chose the date of June 4, 2017, which was his late son Zack’s birthday. In June 2015 we found out my daddy’s cancer was back. Don and I had a photoshoot scheduled for me, him, my mama, and my daddy. When my mama and daddy showed up at our house, Don made the announcement that he wanted to move the wedding up to June 4, 2016, so my daddy could be there. We were so sure he would be there.
I hurried up and scheduled a date to go look for my wedding dress. I picked it out in July. By the time I had my appointment, we had found out that Daddy’s cancer was in his brain and he was already blind. Then we were told that he had 2-3 months left to live. We were devastated to say the least. I told Don that I didn’t want to have to help plan my daddy’s funeral and my wedding at the same time, so we pushed the wedding back to the original date of June 4, 2017.
My fall semester started in August and I was going to school all day and then driving to my mom’s house an hour and half away to help take care of daddy most days. I would sleep in my car in between classes and when Don was home, I would spend the nights at my mama’s to give her a break. My daddy lost his fight with cancer on Oct 17, 2015. Don knew what it was like to lose his dad, so he was my rock when I needed him.
In 2016, we found out that Don’s brother-in-law, who he had asked to be the best man, was also diagnosed with brain cancer. We then decided to just cancel the wedding, knowing it will happen when it happens. Don’s brother-in-law passed away October 2016.
He was there for me when I had a stroke in January 2016 and he was there for me when I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, which is a rare medical condition. It affects the connective tissue in my body and I have frequent dislocations in my joints. I think he was more excited than I was when I made the Dean’s List at college this past fall. I got the letter telling me I was on it on the 2-year anniversary of my stroke. Don has helped me when I’ve been on crutches (many times during the course of our relationship), he has dressed me and helped me walk after two surgeries I had last year. I was there the night he got a concussion and if not for me, he might not be here today. I will continue to be here for him no matter what happens, and I know Don will be there for me as well.
When we started dating and I introduced him to my mama and daddy, they both never had an issue with his age or our age difference. Other people had a hard time accepting me and still do to this day. At first, I was not allowed at certain people’s houses because of their feelings towards us being together. Other people welcomed me with open arms. They saw how we were together and knew it was real.
People have tried breaking us up in so many different ways. They have called him my sugar daddy, telling him he needs to be with his ex-wife or someone his own age, telling me I need to be with someone younger, telling him that his mid-life crisis is over now and he can break up with me. It even went as far as saying my feelings for him are not real and that me and my children will never be accepted into his family. We have broken up quite a few times because of insecurities, but we have always worked through them and came out stronger.
I have always had faith in our relationship and our love. We are happy together, our love is real, and we are the only ones whose opinion matters. I am happy to say that most people who have had their reservations about us are now starting to accept me and my children, and understand that Don and I are meant to be, and that even though we both have a past, we have learned from it and from each other. I even get along with his ex-wife and she is even invited to our wedding. She is a part of his family and now she’s a part of our new family.
While Don is only 2 years younger than my mama, she treats him just like one of her kids. Age is relative. She is happy that we both found someone who treats us like we deserve, and is happy that we are happy and loved. Isn’t that all that matters?
So here we are engaged for a little over 3 years and finally our wedding is happening on November 10, 2018. It’s now 6 months away and I cannot wait. I am so excited that it is finally happening. Don and I complete each other. I know it sounds corny and cliché, but it’s true. When I’m with him or even thinking about him I am smiling and I feel whole. He is my opposite, my rock, and my biggest supporter.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lyndsay Melancon, 34, of Gibson, Louisiana. Submit your own story here, and subscribe to our best stories in our free newsletter here.
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