Natalie stood on the deck watching the Mediterranean Sea. It was a beautiful morning and it was the first day at sea. She was on her second honeymoon. For twenty-five years she was married to her first husband, Richard, a truly wonderful man. They had started out as friends and then their relationship developed into something they hadn’t expected but felt was a blessing.
Together they raised two remarkable kids—Josh and Annie. Those years with Richard were the happiest for her. So, it was devastating when he died. It was so sudden. He was on his way home from the office when he collided with another vehicle which ran a red light. The other driver escaped with scrapes and scratches but Richard’s injuries were severe. He died at the hospital. It was her faith and the consolation of family and friends that got Natalie through those horrific years after Richard was gone.
In time the pain grew less and she was able to think of Richard without breaking down. She slowly began adjust to life without him. Her kids now grown encouraged her to go out and enjoy herself. She attended dinner parties, operas, ballets, concerts and even went on a cruise with a group of single friends. It was on that cruise where she met Mark. He was travelling with some friends too. They shared the same dinner table and while the others went off either to the casino or to watch the live entertainment, she opted to go to the deck where she stood, enjoying the cool night air. He joined her. They spoke and she found that she enjoyed his company though she couldn’t get past the fact that he was much younger than her. Still, he was really nice and she was so relaxed around him. They spent a lot of time together and when the cruise was over, they exchanged phone numbers, promising to keep in touch.
Life returned to its old routine when she returned home but the highlight of her evenings was speaking to Mark on the phone for hours. They made plans to see each other over the summer. She introduced him to her family and they seemed to like him although her mother didn’t seem too pleased. She didn’t know exactly when it happened but she knew that she had fallen in love with Mark. One night when they were sitting on the sofa, having tea, Mark confessed that her. He asked her to marry him and she accepted but after he left, she worried about her family’s reaction.
She waited until they were at her mother’s house to make the announcement. You could have heard a pin drop. Her news had knocked them all for a loop. It was some time before someone said something. Josh spoke up. “I can’t say that I am happy that you are marrying a man in my age group but I won’t stand in your way.”
Annie hugged her and said, “Yes, Mom. You deserve to be happy again. And I don’t see why it’s okay for a man to marry a woman much younger than him but a woman can’t marry a younger man.” She said that for her grand-mother’s benefit.
Natalie looked at her mother whose expression was thunderous. “How could you seriously be thinking of marrying a man half your age?” she demanded.
Natalie drew a deep breath. “I didn’t plan to fall in love with a man younger than me but it happened. Like you, I had a problem with our age difference in the beginning but I remembered that father was considerably older than you and yet, you were so happy together. Mother, I am sorry that you don’t approve but God has given me another chance at happiness and I am going to take it. We haven’t decided on a wedding date as yet but I will let you know as soon as we do.”
Her mother pursed her lips. “Well, don’t expect me to be there,” she said.
And true to her word, she didn’t attend the wedding. Nor did Mark’s parents which came as no surprise to her. Still, she had hoped they make an appearance for their son’s sake. She met them once when she was invited to dinner at their home in Long Island but that meeting didn’t go well. They raised the same objections as her mother. Mark’s mother had remarked that Natalie was a lot older than she expected.
It was a beautiful and simple wedding with some family and friends in attendance. Her son gave her away and her daughter was the bridesmaid. It was a day she would always remember. And here she was now, basking in the joy she didn’t imagine she would experience again. She had twice been blessed with two great men and she was thankful to God who had been her Anchor during those dark moments. He had brought Mark into her life.
Mark. He must be awake by now and wondering where she was. She turned away from the rail and walked back to their cabin with its scenic view of the ocean, her steps quickening in anticipation.