About two years ago I looked him up on Facebook. There he was. I sent him a friend request. He sent me a message. "How are you? I think of you often, and hope you are doing well." He passed through town sometime that summer, and asked if he and his son could meet me for dinner, and I did. I walked into that encounter with a hope, and I got what I'd hoped for: Luke had a stable life, was working hard, had resolved many of his problems. He thought of me over the years not because he thought we were meant to be or he wanted to get back together, but because we mattered to each other, and we mattered in the course of the other's life. We took something from our experiences together, and that something informed who we had become.
Luke and I said good-bye with a friendly hug. We remain friends on Facebook. My last message from him was a kind congratulations on Eden's birth, sent on Mother's Day.
Despite my fervent wishes, Ben has never really had it in him to wish me a happy Mother's Day. I've always wondered why, and think it cruel that he can't muster those three words, but I guess the real question is why I want to hear or read those words from him so badly. I've put my finger on the answer: I want to know that I mattered to him. He mattered to me. I want to know that our child was the product of mutual love and respect. I want a reason to believe that our son was not broken because we were broken. I want to know that I was special enough that ten-plus years down the road he'll still think of me and our son, and our brief moment in time.
Last night as I ran a knife through leaves of basil in a chiffonade, creating ribbons of green, I recalled my cooking lessons with Ben and learning classic knife cuts. I thought of the words incorporated into my vocabulary and the songs in my library and the tools in my kitchen which are the result of my relationship with Ben. His influence and his memory peppers my life.
He is one of the dips in my broken road, ranking the most noteable because of the level of our commitment. We stood before God and promised each other our lives, and now our vows have made a liar of me and I have become a promise-breaker. My words don't seem to mean much anymore.
As I stand on the precipice of making that same commitment to Marcos, I wonder if I am to be believed. I wonder if I can believe in him. I wonder if I've finally come to the end of the broken road.
Over the duration of my maternity leave I have been watching the television series "How I Met Your Mother," the 9-season story of one man's quest for love. Ted Mosby is perhaps the most relateable character I have ever encountered on TV. A man after my own heart, he has searched high and low for love, allowing himself to fall deeply and sometimes carelessly. Every time he was in love, it was genuine, even if it wasn't meant to be. I am approaching the final two seasons, and as I do I know that they will result in Ted finding his future wife under a yellow umbrella.
How fitting that Ted, my television parallel, would find love under an umbrella, with rain pouring down around the two of them. Won't there always be rain? And wouldn't it be so much more bearable to have someone to face the rain with?
Marcos must be what waits for me under the umbrella, but I find myself more guarded with him than I have ever been in my own search for love. He is probably the least-risky investment my heart has ever had to make. The same is true of Eden. But I am callused from having loved and lost and I am still scarred by the depth of those losses which have me questioning who I am, whether I am worthy of love, and whether I have it in me to return that love.
I think of our close encounter, the night we met at Charly's 8 years ago, and what has filled those interim years, and I wonder why that couldn't have been our beginning. Why couldn't we start right then? It's not fair. Life's not fair.
I am sometimes ashamed of the extent of my past, of the number of dysfunctional relationships and the number of times I have permitted my heart to be broken. I feel that each of those events have stripped the woman that Marcos deserves. Still, he seems to love me anyway. He seems to be unafraid of my scars. He seems to be willing to stay. It seems I matter to him now, and I will always matter to him, which leads me to believe that maybe God has indeed blessed the broken road that led me straight to Marcos Lopez.