After a few JDate emails in late 2004, “Guitar Dave” asked me “Marilyn” to call him. I called David and we spoke for over an hour. Both of us enjoyed the light, easy conversation when we shared our real names (Brenda and David). During the conversation, we learned we were both divorced, although my wounds were fresher, having recently finalized mine. David said, “You sound nice, but I’ve been through a divorce and I know it takes a couple of years to go through the phases”. In two years, let’s talk. David and I spoke a few more times, but by January 2005, halted communication.
On Feb. 13, however, David said he could only think of me. Driving from Baltimore to his home in Havre de Grace, MD, he knew he had to talk to me. It was 10 p.m. and he hoped it wasn’t too late to call. (He later confessed that he had been on a date with another woman that had gone so badly that it made him long to meet me in person!).
David invited me out for the next night, which was Valentine’s Day. Despite my initial reluctance – given how late he called and the short notice – my then 14-year-old daughter encouraged me and so I agreed. She knew if it didn’t work out with David, I was probably going to ditch the whole internet dating idea.
We met in Chesapeake City, halfway between Havre de Grace and my native Dover, DE. David presented me with a heart-shaped box of hand-picked conversational heart candy. We shared a side table and closed down the restaurant. We kissed goodnight in the parking lot in the rain for quite some time. Then I met Princess, David’s dog, who waited intently in his car. Princess accompanies him everywhere, including his dermatology office. During our first date, David asked me out for both a second and a third date.
We had off-the-charts chemistry. As we sat in the car, continuing to smooch, David romantically sang “I Will” by the Beatles to me. Then he invited me on his office trip to Punta Cana that March. I acknowledged his invitation: “If you still feel this way tomorrow, ask me again,” I said. By the time I (a mental health therapist) got to work, David had already emailed. “It’s the next day. I want you to go to Punta Cana with me.” Suffice it to say, staying focused and present with my clients was no easy task that day.
Both of us dove into the relationship completely, but were cautious of bringing our children into the mix. David’s two boys and my son and daughter all knew about their parents’ budding relationship, but it was four months before they met the object of their parents’ affections. It wasn’t until September that year that we professed our love for each other. Both of us knew how we were feeling long before, but were afraid to say it. We blended our families slowly. David accompanied me to marching band performances and school plays, and I joined along with him to elementary school awards ceremonies.
David proposed on the two-year anniversary of our first date. But first, he wanted the blessing of my kids, and he needed to know my ring size. He asked them to think about it. Days later, my daughter texted David that “all was cool” and she delivered the ring size. At Chesapeake City restaurant, I opened my menu. Inside was a romantic love letter from David, asking me to marry him. He was on his knee with a ring and the entire dining room applauded while the piano man played “The Nearness of You.”
We exchanged personally-written vows during an intimate ceremony at the Stepping Stone Museum at Susquehanna State Park in Havre de Grace on September 7, 2008. Our four children carried their own hand-painted poles to hold the chuppah made from both of our fathers’ tallitot.
Sixty-five friends and family members witnessed what some have called “the joining of two Jewish souls who are dedicated to tikkun olam.” We chose to draw heavily from Jewish tradition for our reception. Our guests entertained us with stories, poems and songs; we were king and queen. In lieu of gifts, guests were asked to make donations to the Jewish National Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center or American Jewish World Service.
We have long been committed to social and environmental action. At David’s son’s Bar Mitzvah, we presented him with a certificate from the Jewish National Fund stating that more than 300 trees were planted in his honor to offset the carbon footprint we made traveling back and forth from Dover to Havre de Grace during our courtship.
Today, we credit divine intervention through JDate for our pairing. It’s much bigger than us. We are grateful to have the chance, every day, to live life in ways that continue to make us worthy of our many blessings.
Brenda & David
Havre de Grace, Maryland