Well, it’s official: Headed Into Overtime has received its first guest post. I hope this is a sign of things to come. Even if it isn’t, at the pressure’s off me for another month or two to publish!!
This post is by my “goodfriend” “partner” “boyfriend” “manfriend”…..honestly there is no good word to describe him or what he means to me.
It’s from the British guy I’ve been casually referring to for the past two years, Robbie.
From the day I saw his eyes well up with tears at a tiny pub in New Hope when he tried to explain how horribly he felt that I had lost my husband(knowing full-well that if Jamey hadn’t died, he and I wouldn’t be sitting at that tiny pub in New Hope) I knew that this was no cold, unaffected Englishman.
I knew he was warm, and tender and caring. I continued to date him anyway!
So, for this Valentine’s Day, I’d like you to hear my current Valentine speak in that same warm, tender and caring way about my other Valentine.
(Please note: I was going to start off with a rant about how the core theme of this blog is related to “soccer” (as you, and pretty much only you Americans, call it). I was then going to vent my frustrations over how absolutely illogical it is to call it soccer, and how the remaining fanbase of, oh, I don’t know, about 3.5 billion football fans worldwide (there, I said it—football!!!fans) refer to it by its proper, logical name, the game where you foot strikes the ball…see how that works?
So I was going to start off like that. I’ve chosen not to, however)
So I’ll start off like this: I’m the Brit chap Kim has referred to a number of times in recent blogs related to “moving on”. I’m the one who has slowly (very slowly I might add) become a regular fixture in her life and, by association, the life of her daughter, Cael.
It has been a slow process, to be sure and will continue to be as we balance our needs and aspirations with the responsibilities to the kids. And it hasn’t always been an easy. In fact, at times it’s been pretty difficult and we know we have more challenges ahead.
When two people meet later in life things are different than when you were young.
Age brings experience.
At 50-ish, I’m not a wide-eyed kid anymore.
I’m older (oh, for sure!) and wiser? I can only hope so.
Those 50 something years have seen many things, good and bad: the birth of three great kids, the transitioning of those kids from England, the only home they’d known, to the tall skylines and strange accents of the good ol’ US of A.
We traveled here as a family of 5 (me and their mum—my wife at the time) with plans for a brief 2 year stay in the United States.
I was only supposed to be here on temporary assignment.
Over a decade later I am typing this as my application for US citizenship makes ponderous progress through the Government.
I had no plans to become an American citizen, but now it’s (hopefully) going to happen.
I also never planned that the relationship I had with my wife, the mother of our three children, would end, but that also happened along the way.
When I met Kim over two years ago I was carrying some baggage. So many big life changes in a short period of time, it was somewhat overwhelming.
As the story goes (and in my case was entirely true), I wasn’t ready for or looking for a serious relationship. I was tired and relationship-weary and just wanted to have some casual fun—get back “into the game” and meet interesting new people.
And then I went and found bloody Kim.
I mean, she wasn’t actually covered in blood or anything, but she did throw a bit of a wrench (or “spanner”, for my British folks back home) into my plan of “casually dating”.
What I found in Kim was someone with incredible wit, intelligence, and, sorry to sound shallow, but someone who I found frankly “gorgeous” (a word I use to refer to her a lot.)
And I know exactly the face she’ll pull when reading this description:
She’ll stick out her tongue in disgust, cross her eyes and tip her head to the side in a vain attempt to disprove my claim.
Compliments, in general, make her feel uncomfortable.
Why? Because she’s also modest and self-effacing (which, frankly, only further proves my point that she is…”Gorgeous”. QED. And this time with a capital G for effect).
Kim and I became acquainted the old-fashioned way—through the online dating site, Match.com. Ok, fine, it’s a “new” way of meeting, but the development of a relationship online can actually be very “old school” in that you get to know the person behind the picture before you even meet the person in person, if you get my drift.
We emailed back and forth for close to a month before ever meeting face-to-face. And we emailed a LOT!
I think like over 500 emails in one month.
After a while Kim explained she was actually widowed, not separated as she’d described herself online (apparently, she didn’t want any “pity” dates that may occur if she told people she was widowed).
This was one of a number of deceits in her online profile designed to scare the ‘wrong type’ of suitor away.
Others included :
- making herself 4 years older than she actually was
- posting a really creepy picture of herself
- warning potential suitors that if they had specific grammatical errors in their emails (think; they’re, their, there) AND/OR
- if they were too lazy to spell out a word (think “U” instead of you), she would refuse to respond back!
This bird had gone out of her way NOT to meet men!
And, honestly, at first, I was a bit put off.
I looked at her profile. Her picture was spooky and strange. But, her self-description was so funny and witty and I was drawn back to it time and again until eventually, I reached out.
Finding out about Kim’s journey, leading up to the point where we finally met, was humbling.
Any baggage stuffed with self-pity I brought with me related to my relationship breakdown got tossed in the trash after hearing about her journey with Jamey and Cael and one SOB brain tumor—the tumor that slowly stripped Kim and Cael of the man who loved them both above all else.
In one of our earliest emails, Kim asked me (as most Americans do) what “football” (soccer) team I supported. She assumed that since I was British, I must be an avid fan, as most are.
This was before I knew any details about Jamey and his passion for the sport. I made some offhanded comments about how I didn’t like the game, how I preferred rugby over football, explaining that “Rugby’s a thug’s game played by gentleman, whereas, football is a gentleman’s game played by thugs.” (gasp!, I know!).
She responded by sending me to the Headed Into Overtime blog.
And I was completely, absolutely horrified!
THE ENTIRE BLOG CENTERED AROUND JAMEY’S LOVE FOR SOCCER!!!
I had just unknowingly offended the character of this poor woman’s recently deceased husband!
Mortified, I actually contemplated not responding back. Luckily, heart and apologies in hand, I did.
And then I learned about Jamey—the man, the husband, the father, the teammate, the brother.
And the more I learned, the more I liked him.
I’ll never have the good fortune to know Jamey, to really understand what he was like, but I do feel, through hearing all of the stories about him from Kim and reading the blog, that I have a sense of who he was.
I think I would have liked him very much.
He seemed to be a quiet, thoughtful, smart, hardworking man.
A man who loved his football and was loved and respected by those he played with.
A man with a subtle, but sharp sense of humor (which, I’m sure he’d agree is kind of essential for anyone to survive a few minutes in the ring with Kim!)
A chap who was always busy; always doing something around the house (a house I’ve gotten to know pretty well, helping Kim chip away at the task of updating and restoring, in some small way respecting what Jamey had planned for it).
He’s a man who I feel a deep sense of sorrow for and powerful, conflicting emotions about.
Part of me feels a sense of guilt related to Jamey… If his story didn’t play out in the way it did, if he’d never died, I would have never met ‘my’ Kim and fallen in love.
The happiness I feel now with Kim was born out of a gravely sad situation. My life with Kim is only possible because his life with her ended.
That’s some pretty deep shite.
Initially, this felt like a burden; it was a tough thing to get my head around.
And I can, hand on heart, tell you this:
I live my life with Kim always knowing that I would give it all up if I could bring him back and return her dad to Cael.
If, by some magical power, Jamey could come back from the dead, I would bow out gracefully and take a knee.
But, in the absence of that I’m moving forward in a relationship with Kim, with Cael, but also in a way with Jamey.
Jamey is a man I never met, and never will but this man has left me with two wonderful someones.
He’s a man who has gone but has not gone.
He lives in the warped floorboards and sanded plaster of the house he left behind.
He resides in the occasional smile I get from an age-appropriately grumpy teenage daughter.
His comforting, protective shadow casts a positive shade on Kim, on Cael and even me in our daily lives.
His memory and presence serves to remind me of my responsibility in loving Kim and being as supportive of Cael as she wants me to be.
Yes, Jamey is gone in a physical sense, but I will always feel that somehow, over two years ago he drafted me to join his team.
He passed me the ball, his final assist, and it’s my job to defend and protect it as closely as I can. It’s just what good teammates–soccer, football and rugby–do for one another.