92: The Second Time Around

92: The Second Time Around

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

The Second Time Around

Come, let’s be a comfortable couple and take care of each other! How glad we shall be, that we have somebody we are fond of always, to talk to and sit with.

~Charles Dickens

I’ve been to a wonderful wedding. It was not one of those June extravaganzas in a hotel ballroom with a bride done up in lace, a cast of thousands, and a six-course feast.

This wedding was carried off in a dauntingly small living room. The bride wore a navy dress that was not even close to the coveted size six or eight. The groom had a receding hairline, a visible paunch, and crinkly lines around his blue eyes that spoke of a thousand smiles.

Most of us had come to this midweek wedding straight from work, notified not by an engraved invitation on ivory stock, but by a breathless, last-minute phone call. “We’re doing it!” was the message, a study in brevity if not wit.

I had known this woman in an entirely different life, back when she had shared her name with a fine and funny man who died at forty-one on a street corner — a sudden, unmerciful death from a massive stroke.

I had watched her move through the terrible, agonizing shock of loss, then pick herself up and turn to the business at hand: raising three children without the man with whom she’d expected to share old age.

Her groom had a similar tale of love and loss. Cancer. A blur of treatments and hospitals. And then the not-so-sudden death of his wife and soul mate.

In adjoining suburbs, unknown to one another for years, these two had struggled. Neither was the sort for mixers or singles cruises.

Then, last year, someone had said, “Why not?” and arranged for a middle-aged widow and a widower on the far side of fifty to meet at a party.

No trumpets blared. No cymbals clashed.

But one night, my friend told me that this new man in her life had a fine sense of humor, and that when they’d talked about movies, they’d discovered that they both loved the same ones.

By fall, they’d arranged the intricate process of meeting one another’s adult children, and, in his case, grandchildren. It wasn’t quite like in the storybooks. Her middle son found her beau tedious; his oldest daughter wondered whether they’d talked about a pre-nup, and had reviewed one another’s economic interests and limits.

But this widow and widower heeded something their presumably wise kids didn’t factor in: the rekindling of hope. Maybe there truly could be a Chapter Two. Perhaps two lonely people could blend their lives and grab a second chance at happiness.

There was inevitably a certain caution, born of pain on both sides.

There was a certain reserve about making that ultimate commitment. Loving, they both knew, could cost a lot.

But it still came to pass that on an ordinary Wednesday night, two people who would never make the pages of romantic bridal magazines stood ready and willing to take that vast leap of faith that is marriage. The mood was definitely mellower than passionate and wildly romantic.

I cried so many tears at that wonderful wedding that my eyes were puffy and swollen. Even the rabbi wept.

The wedding toasts had a certain intensity about them that you don’t see at the weddings of breathless twenty-somethings.

The one I’ll remember best came from the middle-aged groom to the bride in her sensible navy dress: “I’ll warm your feet when they’re cold, my darling,” he said with a gallant smile.

And at least some of us understood just how much that promise means.

~Sally Friedman

You are currently enjoying a preview of this book.

Sign up here to get a Chicken Soup for the Soul story emailed to you every day for free!

Please note: Our premium story access has been discontinued (see more info).

view counter

More stories from our partners