The story of us goes back to 1994.
I can’t tell you the whole story, so I’ll just tell you one story.
Back in 1994, we met and got to know each other at a conference in Ireland and Scotland. I was there with my family and Mr. French came with several male friends from his church in North Carolina.
Years later, when it was all over (the conference and the relationship) several friends of mine from the conference told me (separately) of a rumor going around about one of the guys in Mr. French’s group. The rumor was that one of them had been married previously and that their wife had died. Most people thought it was Mr. French. I thought it must have been one of the other guys because I was sure that Mr. French would have told me. It did make me wonder, but since the relationship was over, I simply filed it away.
Fast forward a few years and we meet again, in Kansas City. After several months of attending the same church we started getting to know each other again and I remembered that “fact” that I had filed away.
Now, I really wanted to know. It seemed like pertinent information, even though we weren’t really dating. But he never mentioned it, nor hinted about it. It was a pretty awkward subject to bring up. If it was true, then I’d be bringing up painful memories that maybe he wasn’t ready to share and if it wasn’t true, then I was just repeating gossip, which was also awkward.
We were coming into Kansas City from Minneola (I had been visiting my family and he had visited some of his old friends, who happened to live there at the time) after a long, but enjoyable car trip, when I decided I needed to know, right now, before this got any further.
“So, remember at the conference when there were all these rumors about you guys?”
“Yeah. People always have to talk.” he said.
Oh. Good. Great time to bring this up. “Yeah, people.” I paused.
“So there was this rumor that you…were…uh…”
I took a deep breath and let it all out.
“Thatyouweremarriedbeforeandyourwifedied.” I exhaled.
I watched him closely, hoping the answer would be obvious.
His shoulders slumped. “That was a really hard time.” he said in a quiet voice.
I was horrified. What had I just done! Why couldn’t I have just waited for him to bring it up?
“I’m sorry, I just…”
His mouth turned up ever so slightly.
“Are you…?” Was he pulling my leg?
He started laughing.
“Oh, you! You were never married!”
He didn’t say anything.
“Tell me the truth!” I said, hitting him in the arm. “Were you ever married before?!”
He got serious. Even though he was driving, he looked at me.
“No, I was never married.”
That was almost nine years ago.
I still sometimes bring up his first wife.
It’s not as awkward now.