Twenty-two years ago, my first love and high school sweetheart and I broke up. I was devastated.
Don’t we all have that moment and that person who the whole rest of our romantic lives is measured up against? Jeremiah was that person for me. I was a mess.
So much so that I actually moved from California where I was living to Montana and then later migrated to Seattle. It was a pivotal time in my life and being before the days of social media or subtle stalking on Facebook, I completely lost touch with him. He faded but was never forgotten.
I never saw him again, but over the years, always thought about him and hoped and prayed that he was doing well.
I married in 2000, had two beautiful children, moved to Haiti, adopted two more, started a business with a mission of orphan prevention, went through an earthquake, my world fell apart, and as many know, my divorce finalized in 2014. It was not what I ever imagined my story would be. The fall from the “missions” pedestal I found myself on was long and hard. The rawness, honesty, and humility of the fall, however, left me in such a better spot. It is so good to be transparent in my failures. I found myself in a place that I could just be myself. Broken, human, and still wanting to make a change in the world. I kept on.
But I was lonely.
I thought about online dating. I created a profile. It went something like this:
“Single mother of four with cancer (at the time) who lives in Haiti and runs a business and is too busy to pay attention to anyone seeks eligible man for a meaningful relationship.Must be willing to give up their career and join me in mine.”
Dream profile really. You can imagine how many hits I got. (sound of crickets chirping)
Somewhere in the back of my mind in those moments I remembered Jeremiah.
And I found him.
Long story short. He was single, no kids, was looking for a career change, his mom and sister had moved up to Washington and lived only a few miles from my family, and we started to text. We texted for several months. It started with a sentence a week. And then a sentence a day. And then last summer, we were both headed to Washington for the 4th of July to the same town in Washington state where our families lived.
We decided to meet for coffee.
I saw him park his car and walk across the street towards me. Twenty-two years later and he still looked just the same. A warm and hearty embrace and a day of catching up sparked a new friendship that was clearly unexpected and confusing. What did this mean? What are the chances? What the hell is going on? That night there was a Coke in my mom’s fridge with the name Jeremiah on it. I don’t believe in signs and I was not looking for a serious anything and certainly wasn’t wanting to get hurt again anytime soon, still reeling from a failed marriage. I determined to go back to Haiti and forget about our coffee date.
But, over the past year, we have continued to pursue a friendship, and then a relationship, exploring whether or not this crazy connection that we rekindled was supposed to be more. It was a great six months of long conversations over the phone and getting to know each other again. In February he visited me in Haiti for the first time. In May, he visited again and we both got held up and robbed at gunpoint. It wasn’t the best PR for the life he was thinking about joining. But he still didn’t get scared off. I reminded him of my dating profile and told him he was crazy and didn’t expect him to stay. He stayed.
This summer I have been out in Florida most of the summer and he came to visit me again. I still hadn’t scared him off apparently.
We decided to go do something fun yesterday and went kayaking out in the lagoon near Cocoa Beach. It was a beautiful evening kayak trip and dolphins were everywhere around our kayaks. Our guide said they had never seen that many dolphins in the lagoon ever. We were so happy, a sense of peace and blessing and joy settling over us as we pulled our kayaks up on the beach. Jeremiah looked at me and asked if we could go walk on the beach. About 20 feet into the walk, he turned around and got down on his knee and asked me if I would marry him. He was shaking like a leaf.
I could never have imagined what has developed over the last year between us. We have a deep care for each other, a depth from knowing each other as teenagers, and a somberness at knowing how hard relationships and marriage is. We have both failed in so many ways.
I said yes.
I am getting married!
I am honored to have Jeremiah by my side and with humility we look to the future knowing that it won’t always be easy and we have many obstacles in the way.
But what is amazing, is that this man loves me. In spite of my crazy life, my emotional baggage, and what he will be taking on to be with me, he is willing.
I am excited to finally be able to be public about what has been going on with me behind the scenes for the past year. It comes at an awkward time as a documentary that was filmed several years ago while I was married before is just now introducing me and the work that I do in Haiti. But my life is something that I can’t help but live. In real time.
Today I choose to live it as wholeheartedly and honestly with Jeremiah Cameron. I hope that in reading this you can join with me in my joy of finding love again in a most unexpected way. We are both so grateful and I am so happy to finally be able to introduce him!
Source: Shelley In Haiti