I met Heather in 2000. I had just come out of a series of relationship body-slams that left me emotionally winded. I was not looking for something new. And Heather was in a relationship that was going through its own death throes. But in one weekend, we knew we were meant to be together.
Our relationship was marred by bad timing. There was an international move involved, a breakup, some dramatic turns in health, and even a late night hospital trip or two. There was the recession, the internet bubble burst, an uncomfortably long bout of joblessness, and visa worries. There were planes crashing into buildings and the loss of a member of the family. There was more bad news than anyone should have to stand.
We dated and lived together for four years, and we still carried a lot of baggage from past relationships. We were passionate people who sometimes disagreed passionately. And our differences sometimes outnumbered our similarities. I drank coffee, she drank tee. Red wine, white wine. Late sleeper, early riser. Hell, she wasn’t even Jewish. There were a million reasons to be unsure.
But there was never anyone I’d rather come home to. Never anyone I’d rather be with. Never anyone I loved more than Heather.
And then I remembered the story of Jacob and the angel. I realized I’d been waiting for clarity. Waiting for a sure thing. And if I kept waiting for certainty, I’d be waiting forever.
On the eve of 2004, I asked her to marry me. Doubt is as much a part of love as questioning is part of faith. I’m just lucky she waited so long for me to come around.
She said yes.
Back in the flower market, with the stress of the impending wedding making the flowers blur around me in psychedelic swirls, and some stranger asking inappropriate questions, I did what I always do. I reached out for the person I love most.
I took Heather in my arms and whispered in her ear, “hug me.”
We hugged in that swirl of flowers until they stopped spinning. When I looked up, the man was gone.
Later, when I asked Heather if she saw that guy talking to me, she looked at me blankly.
“Never mind,” I said. “Just wrestling with an angel.”