Whenever I tell the story of how my husband and I ended up together, people inevitably say, “You should write the story of that!”
I haven’t written in detail about our love story, but in all the romances and other fiction I’ve written since 2009, there are bits of us and our journey to where we are today. As an author, I freely admit that small pieces of my life and the people in it slip into my work. I have a sticker on my file cabinet, which should be tattooed on my forehead. “Be careful what you tell me or you might end up in my next novel.”
So for this Valentine’s Day, here’s the story of Robert and Patricia Zick, edited to protect those who didn’t ask to be a part of our reuniting.
To begin, we go to Michigan in 1972, when Robert was twenty-two, and I was beginning my senior year of high school. My brother Don and Robert were good friends so I began hanging around my brother’s apartment whenever I knew the handsome Robert would be there as well. Within a few months, we discovered we were falling in love. But Robert had an opportunity to move to Pittsburgh, and I needed to finish high school. He left, and we both remember a profound sadness at our parting. But there was no drama. Both of us knew there was no future for us. He married someone else in 1973, and I married my first husband and moved to Florida in 1980. We had children and lived our lives, but we never forgot one another.
Sadly, in 2008, my brother Don committed suicide. It devastated me. I had no one with whom to share my grief because the rest of my family had severed ties to Don years before. For months, I kept thinking about Robert and remembering the happy times we had spent with Don all those years ago. When I received an ad for Classmates.com for a free trial period in April 2009, I decided to try it. The first person I searched for? Yep, that’s right. The young guy I’d fallen in love with when I was seventeen. And surprisingly, there he was. He, too, had received the same ad and decided to give the site a try, which is amazing in and of itself. Robert is not that savvy on the computer, and he never joins anything. He still refuses to have anything to do with Facebook. Yet, for some reason, we both joined Classmates.com in the same month.
“Where are you these days, Bob?” my message to him read. Nothing more. I wanted to keep it simple because I wasn’t certain he’d even remember me after thirty-six years. Within twenty-four hours, I had a long response filling me in on his life. For days, we exchanged our stories and found we had many things in common.
One day in early May, he called. I knew his voice immediately. Within ten minutes, we were sharing our beliefs on spirituality, politics, and life in general. We clicked, and there was no hesitation in our sharing. During our second phone call, he ended it by saying, “I love you.” It shocked me. On the next call, the first thing I asked was why had he told me he loved me.
“I don’t know, except that it felt right, and I always regretted I never told you that all those years ago.” I turned to mush at the confession.
Daily calls for a month led to the decision that I would fly to Pittsburgh for a meeting. Nerves jangling and expectations high, I went, telling myself that if nothing else, I’d reconnect with a good friend. We would share stories about my brother, and I’d feel better about his death. And all of that happened. But there was one more thing. When we met in person, all the feelings from thirty-six years before were still there. The attraction, the connection, and the love surfaced, and we knew our lives were about to change forever.
By July, we were together, and I made arrangements to move to Pittsburgh. We married the following year. And now almost eight years later, our rekindled love still flames and burns brightly. It feels as if we’ve always been together.
We celebrated our first Valentine’s Day together in 2010, and seven years later, we celebrate once again. We celebrate finding one another, and we celebrate love. Has it always been smooth? Of course not. We were two people in their fifties fairly set in our own ways of doing things. But we adjusted–still adjust–because we know that there must be something that ties us together. I don’t have the answers as to why, but I know I’d rather travel with him than without him. Since he’s still hanging around, I assume he feels the same way.
Before I reconnected with Robert, I’d been a lonely divorcee in her fifties. I struggled with my loneliness. I tried online dating, and I hated it. I longed for love but felt at my age, it was over for me in that department.
For those of you who might feel the same, never give up. And the best way to draw love is to live a life of love. It will come back to you tenfold.
Happy Day of Love to you all and a couple of gifts.
Click here to download a free copy of Odyssey to Myself, a collection of essays about the decade between 2000-2010 and how travel helped me recover and stand again.
Click here to download a free copy of my first romance, Behind the Altar, and the first book in the Behind the Love series.
Click on the images below to check out the rest of the Behind the Love series.