This post is a bit long but worth the read. It’ll put the above photos into context and paint a picture of loss, life, and loving again.
Two weeks after Laura passed away, I was perusing Facebook late at night when I scrolled past a page recommendation for Jeremy Camp, an award-winning Christian rock musician. I clicked on it and immediately learned that he had written a book called, “I Still Believe.” This memoir chronicled his life, but most importantly went into great depth about several aspects of his life – the loss of his first wife to ovarian cancer; his struggles with his faith because of the loss; and ultimately finding love again. I ordered the book without hesitation and finished it within a week.
After I finished the book, I told “Alexa” to shuffle Jeremy Camp since I had never listened to his music before, and by the third song I was literally on my knees in the kitchen, a crumpled mass of a human being trying to wrestle with all of the feelings that overcame me as I listened to the lyrics. The lyrics were powerful and profound, they cut to the core of my soul and spoke to me directly. Everything I was questioning about God and why he would allow such pain was being answered and flowing from the lyrics. From that point forward, his music was on a continuous loop in my house for easily five months. During that time, I continued to struggle with loss and my faith, but as the months went on my faith continued to strengthen along with the possibility of finding love again.
Almost 14 months after Laura’s passing, I decided to dip my toe into the online dating pool. While I met many great women, I never truly connected with any of them… until my eye caught one person in particular. I was hesitant at first because of how far we lived from one another, but I was drawn to her in a way that I still can’t describe to this day. It literally felt like we were meant to be together, so I scrapped the notion of dating someone who lived in my area and went with my heart. My heart didn’t let me down.
I remember our first date vividly. Up until that point, Chrissy and I had been chatting via text and were already hitting it off. While we weren’t going into tremendous detail about our personal lives, I feel like I had already connected with her and was looking forward to our first date that warm June night. Dinner was amazing, and the conversation was easy, so easy that hours had passed without either of us ever looking at our phones to check the time. Since it was a Tuesday night, a lot of places were closing at 10 pm, but we came upon an empty Bar Napoli and proceeded to sit down and talk more. At one point in the evening, the topic turned to loss – specifically Laura’s passing and her brother Dave being killed by a drunk driver. We spoke openly and candidly about all of it. She listened, I listened, and we both empathized with one another over the loss of someone important in our lives.
As the conversation progressed, I told her how much the music of Jeremy Camp helped me during those dark, lonely moments. How it strengthened my faith and gave me the will and the way to move forward. She proclaimed how much she loved his music and how it also got her through some very tough times. We both even pulled out our phones to show one another that we had his music on our playlists. I guess in this day and age of online dating; you can’t be too sure that some whacko isn’t just feeding you a line. Our date eventually came to an end, but not before what we still talk about being the most amazing and last first kiss ever. It seemed as if time had stood still and we were the only two people on this planet. The only two who mattered.
Throughout our relationship, we would regularly talk about how badly we wanted to see Jeremy Camp together, but he was never within driving distance, or our hectic schedules couldn’t make it happen. It wasn’t until a last-minute tour was thrown into the mix headlining both Jeremy Camp and Matthew West that we were finally able to see him locally here in St. Louis. It’s almost as if God said, “You’ve waited long enough, you’ve been through enough, so here you go.”
Attending the Jeremy Camp concert last night and getting to meet him was an extraordinary moment for both of us. I had to pull myself together as I walked up there with Chrissy by my side. We were both finally getting the chance to meet someone who not only helped us through our struggles and brought us together but who also served as a conduit for God’s love.
As I walked up to speak with Jeremy, I first went to Matthew West and shook his hand, and we chatted briefly, and I humorously told him, “I’ll be honest, I’m here to see that guy next to you.” He laughed, and at that point, Chrissy reaches over while talking to Jeremy and grabs me saying, “You two really need to talk.” We grasped hands, and I looked him in the eye and said, “You and I share a very similar tragedy. Your music helped me through a very difficult period in my life, and it ultimately helped me find love again.” I’ll never forget the look in his eyes at that moment, and then he said, “That made my night, just made my night” and then he hugged me, a hug that could only come from someone who suffered a similar loss. Chrissy then came over, and I told Jeremy how we both suffered loss in our lives and how his music brought us together on our first date. It was a very emotional moment for all of us that we’ll remember forever.
This past year and a half has been amazing, and our love continues to grow. Chrissy’s patience to understand a widower has only increased my love for her exponentially. I sometimes think back to that day when the Jeremy Camp page recommendation popped up in my feed, and I know it wasn’t just chance or luck. It was a nudge from God to tell me that despite all the pain I was in, he had bigger and better things in store for me down the road. Even though I couldn’t see it, or even comprehend it at the time, this difficult period of my life would allow me to turn my struggles into something positive for others. It would inevitably open my heart and allow me to love again.
My faith may have faltered during the most challenging period of my life, but His faith and love for me never ended. I found love again on June 13, 2017. A love more powerful than I could have ever imagined. It was an evening where God brought two individuals together from different backgrounds, who both suffered through great loss, lived the life they were given and found a love they never knew existed.
As Jeremy Camp so eloquently stated, “I still believe,”
…and for that, I’m forever blessed in this life and the next.