Finding true love the first time wasn’t hard, I just had to look in the seat behind me in Bible Class. My best friend became my boyfriend in the eleventh grade, after two years of friendship. We were two of a kind, inseparable and, even for a pair of teenagers, very much in love. I would start each morning by jumping in his car and into his lap and singing, “You Are My Sunshine.” Cheesy, but it was our thing.
On December 10 1986, a car accident took my sunshine away. He was eighteen, and had just finished the first quarter of his freshman year of college. I remember my mother telling his mother that she knew some adults who weren’t as connected as we had been. I don’t know about that, I just knew I was alone and devastated.
But time moved on, and I had to as well. I met a very sweet man a few years later who I married. I did my best to make him the love of my life, my partner, and my soul mate … but you can’t make someone those things. We had children, and they filled my heart with a love and joy I never expected.
Still, something was missing. A counselor would describe me as having an aura of sadness that hung over me. My brother once said it seemed I was always searching for something. I only knew that I was deeply lonely. I remember having dreams where someone would have their arms wrapped around me and I felt loved so deeply. I wanted that, but felt guilty for the children, and the man I had married, and that he wasn’t that man. It took seventeen years for me to realize that I had to give my heart a chance to find what it was searching for in my dreams. I really didn’t believe it was possible. I believed my soul mate was gone forever.
Just as music had been a part of filling my heart before, it would again, pull me toward the man who I was supposed to be with for the rest of my life. More than twenty years after I lost my first love, I turned a corner at The Gaylord Hotel in Nashville while attending a country music festival and locked eyes with the love of my life. I literally felt my heart melt, and I knew the man standing in front of me was my soul mate. It didn’t matter that he was a complete stranger—it was love at first sight.
Looking back, there were so many God winks (as my future mother-in-law calls them) that lead me to that spot in the Gaylord Hotel: my best friend won that trip to Nashville, that was the last night and the only one we went out, the first bar we went to closed as we walked up and the manager sent us to the one we were en route to when we walked around that faithful corner. I was meant to run into my soul mate that night. He, too, had many things that lead him to that spot as well. It is one of those things that was just meant to be.
I am amazed and humbled when I look at God’s plan in my life. It was a long wait, some might say too long, but I know it was the right amount of time to bring me standing face to face with my soul mate. It was the right time in both of our lives. I don’t feel lonely anymore or exude an aura of sadness. People remember my smile and talk about the love I share with an amazing man. I still mourn the boy who never got to grow up, get married or have children, but I know he would finally be happy knowing I am truly living a life of love and happiness with a man who makes me laugh and smile and even sing again.