In 1754 Horace Walpole coined the word “serendipity” in a letter to friend in which he wrote of a Persian fairy tale The Three Princes Of Serendip. The princes in the book, he explained, were always making discoveries by accident about things that they were not in quest of. Serendipity is a fortunate happenstance, a pleasant surprise.
In polar opposite, the word zemblanity means an unfortunate unsurprise. But, despite the fact my life has held many zemblanity moments, (and days, months, even years) this blog is not about any of that. This blog is about my very own little serendipity. The pleasant surprise I stumbled upon when I was not even looking. The fortunate happenstance smack dab in the middle of my unfortunate unsurprises.
In 1993, Justin Beard was 8 years old. And at dinner in a Chinese restaurant he choked to death.
No, literally. Choked to death. While eating beef and broccoli, he choked on a bite of food and died. Had to be revived.
At the age of 8 he almost died and I would never have found him.
Five years earlier I myself was also 8 years old. And while eating steak at a cookout I choked. On a piece of steak.
Beef seems to be the pattern here. It’s enough to make a person become a vegetarian.
Anyway, when I was 8, I also choked on a piece of food. Choked long enough with no one noticing that I nearly blacked out before finally an adult noticed and did the heimlich maneuver and I shot the chunk of masicated cow flesh out of the depths of my throat and across the table.
Are you with me, here?
Both of us choked on food at age 8. It could have been the end of any possibility of us. Back in 1988 or 1993. But it wasn’t.
In the beginning of 2001 my first son was born and I got married to my first husband. Justin, meanwhile, was a sophmore in high school. In 2003 my second son was born 2 months before Justin graduated from high school. The following year I battled deep Postpartum Depression and my marriage began to unravel. At the same time, halfway across the country, Justin met who would eventually become his fiance. A beautiful girl named Amber. It was 2004. They were happy, doing the college thing and the partying thing in Texas while I clung to my precarious marriage through another son. Until June 25th, 2006 when my husband finally left me. Left me for a younger girl because he “didn’t want the stress of family life anymore.” He wanted to have fun and party. So, he left. And the life I knew fell apart for a time. I fell apart. But never unraveled all of the way because I had my sons to raise. Alone now.
For a short time, he came back And we made a ridiculous attempt to fix things. But I found out he was full of crap so he was gone again. But not before I got pregnant again. My 4th son was born exactly a year after to the very day that my husband had left me the first time. By that point I had found my footing, my courage, my will to get my life straight. June 25th, 2007. I was in a hospital in a small North Carolina town giving birth to my son Creed Judah-Ishmael. And I sat in that hospital room contemplating the path I had been trekking thus far and where God had taken me and where I was going. I held on fiercely to my hope and my faith. Brighter days were coming.
During that exact same time Justin was in Texas, equally as determined to get his life on track, off the drugs, and headed onward and upward. He held on fiercely to his hope and his faith. Brighter days were coming.
Until, two months later, on August 24th of 2007, his fiance and love of his life died suddenly and tragically in a car accident. It was a result of her addiction. Maybe her demons were bigger than his. Maybe he was stronger than she had been. It doesn’t really matter WHY. It only matters that it happened. It broke his resolve and his heart. He fell, spiralled, found himself in a situation as a result of escapism and stupidity, a judge sentenced him to possession and a thus resulting broken probation. He spent some time in prison while I spent some time in an abusive relationship. Basically the same thing.
In April of 2009 we both simultaneously were granted our freedom. He was let back out into the free world. I began a relationship with the man who would eventually become my fiance. A wonderful man whom I loved deeply named Ken.
There was Justin, in Texas, picking up the pieces and moving forward once again. Hopeful.
There was I, in North Carolina, picking up the pieces and moving forward again. Hopeful.
On January 29th, 2011 tragedy struck again. This time it was MY fiance who died suddenly and unexpectedly in an accident. Drowned. Gone. Also a victim of addiction.
While my life was falling apart and I was spiralling down, halfway across the country, Justin was being introduced to the girl who would someday introduce him to me. Jesse Roberts. Jesse was the ex wife of Justins best friends boyfriend. A little confusing perhaps but the point is, when I thought there was no hope, things were being put into place. While I was sobbing in my empty bed, breathing in the scent of my fiances body from an old shirt he had worn the day before he had died, Justin was on his way to me.
In September of that same year I made two discoveries about myself. One, I found my tribe. The Rainbow Family. I had always felt I didn’t fit into this world. I stumbled on a documentary about the Rainbow Gathering and realized I had found my people. It was like coming home without realizing until that very moment that you even HAD a home. I had always thought I was born in the wrong era and was the last hippie on earth. Now I realized I had been wrong and it was a delicious discovery.This led to my second discovery about myself. I wanted to move to Texas.
I didn’t really know WHY. Why Texas? I knew not a single solitary soul in Texas. All I knew about it was it was probably hot there and maybe had a lot of cattle ranches and country singers and tumbleweeds. Something in me just began to tug at my heart. Texas was calling to me. Funds were not available at that time in my life to up and move across America with 5 sons. So, I browsed the internet, looking at jobs and houses and dreaming of a someday.
In May of 2012 Justin sat in a doctors office and was told point blank that the chance of him ever fathering children was at very best slim to none.
He took this news hard. He had always had a dream of a large family within his heart. He loved children. He was the designated babysitter for his friends who had kids. Kids flocked to him and adored him. That day, a huge piece of his future was washed away and he grieved it. Grieved what he never had had.
Around that same time, I met Jesse Roberts. Online. I had begun a FaceBook page called The Snarky Hippie. In the same month that Justin had that doctors visit, I met a fellow page owner. Jesse. I fell in love with her blogs, her personality, her spirit and tenacity. Little did I know I would someday be indebted to her for not only being one of my dearest friends, but also being the reason I found Justin.
Step by step, Serendipity was drawing us closer, drawing me home.
On October 26th of 2013 I sent a friend request to Justin Beard. He and I had both been commenting on a post Jesse had made on Facebook that day. Witty banter was exchanged. I made jokes about being a crazy ax murderer. His typical game of impressing girls by acting all arrogant and ego-obsessed was a turn of but he was quick with the snarky retort so I put up with it. I didn’t hesitate to call him on his shit. He didn’t hesitate to tell me I was beautiful.
I met Justin for the very first time On march 3rd of 2014. Being in his arms was right. I fit. Perfectly. He was my best friend by that point. So, we loaded up the kids and my giant pregnant self and headed to Texas. A long road trip with 6 boys, 2 cats and 2 dogs. It took ten trillion potty breaks, at one point I lost it and yelled at all of the kids which then resulted in me peeing my pants in my oh-so-sexy pregnant state. It didn’t even phase Justin though. Mainly because he was vombified by that point what with all of the driving. Our very first kiss happened on our first full day in our new home. He hates onions. I had just shoved a giant bite of burger loaded with a pound of onions into my face hole. (Playing it risky with the damn beef.) I don;t know what came over me. I had all these lofty plans of a super romantic first kiss. Instead, on a whim I leaned in and planted one on him. A big ol onion-y kiss. In front of his mother. Midway through leaning in my brain went “AGGHHH!!!! NO! YOU CAN’T DO YOUR FIRST KISS THIS WAY!!!STOOOOPPPP!” But what was I going to do? Jump back and run away? Yeah, that would have boosted his confidence real nicely. So, we kissed. And it wasn’t perfection. But it was.
And when I labored in our bathtub while birthing
my our daughter, he stayed right there at my side, holding my hand and telling me over and over how strong I was, how beautiful I was, what a good job I was doing. And when she slipped out of my body he proclaimed loud and proud “It’s a GIRL!” And I sobbed. And he was so proud he looked like he might burst and not a person in the room would have known he wasn’t her biological father if they were not told so.
And here we are. Seven children. The big family he and I always wanted. Neither one of us got that dream fulfilled in the way we expected or planned. But here it is.
And happiness. Oh God, there is so much happiness.
Are there stresses and disagreements and chaos and the busyness of life ad living it? Of COURSE there is.How dull would life be if there wasn’t any of that? But life is so fucking incredible these days. Perfect. Beautiful. He planned my proposal on the day I planned his surprise birthday party. He turned 30 and got engaged.
It was ridiculous how many twists and turns our paths had to take to lead us to this place. I think maybe that says an awful lot about the solidity of fate. And perhaps also of the stubbornness in our hearts. Even in the midst of grief and loss and near death beef attacks, we knew there was a meant-to-be out there waiting for us. Plans go awry. Dreams get set aside. Zemblanity happens. Sometimes over and over until finally you find your serendipity. Your silver lining. Your reason. and then, only then, will it all make perfect sense.