Happy Birthday, Zachary
What better gift could be given than a best friend? I’m talking about someone you can fully rely on, someone who chases your dreams with you, someone who does everything in their power to give you the means to do what you love…
I’ve never fully told the story of how Zach and I met, how we decided to be more than friends, or when we became “official.” I don’t know that I ever will share that whole story. I’ve written it all out before, but when it comes time to share it, it just feels like something I want to keep for us. That time was really special for us. Zach and I were both navigating a new relationship in a way that neither of us had ever done before. Sure, at the beginning of our relationship it was just fun and games, but as we realized that it was more, we slowly started having to face what life was going to look like if we continued to pursue each other. I was coming out of a marriage that didn’t end by choice. Not only was that hard for me to navigate, but I cannot imagine the thoughts going on in Zach’s head during that time. For me, I was trying to make sure that Zach never felt like he was being pressured or compared. For Zach, he was trying to figure out how to be fully committed to this relationship while still respecting the relationship that came before him. All of this was going on while we were both trying to be aware of what we allowed to be public and what we kept private. Ultimately, we didn’t want to hurt people outside of our relationship and we didn’t want to hurt each other. To say that it was a balancing act would be an understatement, but let me just paint you a picture of how Zach handled it.
If you know Zach, then you know that he is really outgoing, outspoken, and hard to tie down. He is incredibly independent and does not hide who he is. These were the things that I initially loved about him. However, these were also the things about Zach that really intimidated me. I knew that I had feelings for him, but I wasn’t sure that someone with such a big personality would be able to give a relationship with me the attention that it would need to survive. I don’t say that as a shot at him, but actually as one at me. I knew that a relationship with me at that point in my life would be really high maintenance and I didn’t think he (or anyone really) would be up for that. I was afraid that I was falling for someone who wouldn’t want to put up with my needs.
I say all of that to tell you that I have never met a man so incredibly patient, understanding, and compassionate. I had been head over heels for him for months and he knew it, but because of my fears of rejection, I often tried to push him away or pretend that there wasn’t something more. The more I did those things, the more patient Zach was. Overtime, Zach made it feel safe to let me guard down. He nurtured our friendship first. We spent time together in large groups. Then we started hanging out in small groups. Next we started grabbing lunches together. Finally, during one of our lunch dates he mentioned “us,” and when I questioned what he meant by that, he called me out. That was when I really knew that it was okay for me to be honest about my feelings. In that moment, he made it very clear that he knew we were more than friends, no matter how many times I denied it. You get the point. When I tell you that this went on for months, I mean months! Ultimately we all know the end of the story – we lived happily ever after, but the road we took to get here was a long one!
It is completely by God’s power and Zach’s perseverance that we are where we are today. I did not make the pursuit an easy one, but Zach didn’t bat an eye at anything I threw at him. Zach will be the first one to tell you that there isn’t a rule book to follow when it comes to dating a widow. He’ll tell you that it isn’t easy and that everything really is trial and error, but I’ll be the first to tell you that I could not have asked for someone better. He never gave up when things weren’t easy. He pursued me harder on the days that I pulled away.
Zach has been the husband to a widow and he has done it far better than I could have ever imagined. Of course, he does all of the normal husband things – provides for us, does the handy work, leaves his dishes in the sink and laundry on the floor– but, he also does the extra jobs that come with this role. He comforts me when I need comforting. He celebrates with me when I want to celebrate.
I honestly am still really hesitant to share any of this. This feels like a lot to put out there and really shows off a lot of my past and current insecurities, but I feel like it also shows the person that Zach is. His selflessness and understanding amazes me more and more each day. Zach should be celebrated today and every day for being the person that he is. I’m so thankful that he came into this world 25 years ago.
Happy Birthday, Zachary Ryan. You are so easy to love.