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As the story goes, up until 23-and-a-half years ago, I had been looking for love in all the wrong places. Then one snowy winter night in the Midwest, I came to an impasse.

Standing on a street corner beneath the glow of a streetlamp, stood a tall man in a black coat. My head was inside a tied hood under a baseball cap to keep the sleet from stinging my squinting eyes. Even so, he recognized me, he said my name. I stopped. I looked. I said his, “Todd?”

Twenty-two years ago, we drove to the Little Chapel by the Sea, but it didn’t go according to plan. The Chapel wasn’t like the one in the photos. It was more like a miniature golf replica set on astroturf with a place for the bride and groom to stand in front of the preacher. I guess a lot of people wanted to get married by the sea.

We passed on that, had a good laugh and headed to the courthouse. Judge Waldo married us on the boardwalk. There was one moment I missed having a traditional wedding with music and just as the thought came, the birds sang. When we said our “I Dos” a church bell rang.

Now, 22 years later, our love has grown like the song we played in the car on the way to a restaurant on the water after our vows, “Truly Madly Deeply.” As I recall, there had been a fire and it was closed. There weren’t a lot of choices on Pawley’s Island that day, so we headed back to our place on the ocean—a work mate’s family cabin, $50 for the week—ate leftover stir fry and opened a bottle of champagne on the beach.

It was the second marriage for both of us. We wanted to do it quietly. But our love has grown as loud and lovely as the noonday sun sparkling over the water that day.

Today, we sit drinking our morning coffee with our dog, Fannie. T was willing to drive the 776 miles to see my (our) son and his wife so Fannie could come along. And Fannie is very happy about that.

See, love knows things other things don’t. Love sees and hears things other things can’t. Todd saw me on that snowy winter evening when anyone else on the street may have only seen a slumped over, sad divorcee. He saw me and he heard me say his name.

Now, I look at my son and his wife and I know my prayers were answered. This hasn’t been an easy time for any of us. It would be easy to fall into the pandemic “blahs” as the morning paper describes it. But love is worth fighting for—the kind of love that sees, that hears, that heals.

(And darling? I’m looking forward to the next 22 years with you. Happy Anniversary Sweetheart. TMD0499.)

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