3 years ago, this weekend.

My first date with Winni was on January 16th, 2019.

We met for drinks at bar at Wiregrass mall, she ordered a seltzer… it was a really inexpensive first date!

We talked about how we both felt lonely, how Winni had lost her husband to a tragic heart attack just 18 months before… I told her about my 20 year marriage and subsequent divorce….

It was cold that night, I walked her back to her car and we briefly kissed.

That kiss was when I started to fall in love with her, there was just something special about her.

Something luminous, that came from within.

A few days later we met at the movie theater with her three kids and saw a movie together (one of the Transformers movies)… I remember her daughter sat in my lap halfway through the movie. Her teen boys were more shy, they sat in the row behind us.

In the next few weeks we saw each other frequently, and one weekend I took Winni and the kids for a weekend in St. Augustine. We rented a little beach house, played frisbee with the kids on the beach, saw the tourist sites in St. Augustine… we were growing closer, falling in love, and for the first time since my divorce I felt less lonely… in just a short span of time I began to see myself as Winni’s partner, and her little girl began to feel like my daughter. Loving Winni in 2019 helped me heal, it helped me move past the heartbreak of my failed marriage.

Winni’s daughter joined us on most of our dates, and we really grew close.

Her sons were more distant, to them I was just “Mom’s boyfriend” and I tried to find common ground with the boys, but we had very different personalities. Over time I began to love her boys, but it was a slow process. I can imagine it was awkward for them as well. I think of her boys often.

In April of 2019 I went on a week long mission trip to Honduras, and I missed Winni keenly. I think it was during that time that I realized I had fallen in love with her. I believe she felt the same as well. I remember how Winni picked me up from the airport when I came home, I could tell she was in love with me that night, I could tell she really missed me.

After six months with Winni I told her I’d like to marry her, but she did not feel the same. In September of 2019 she was helping me paint the dining room in my house and out of the blue she suggested we break up! She would put distance between us over the next few months, but I would always circle back to her, and she would let me in her life again. I guess I was just persistent, perhaps foolishly so.

Typical salesman, right?

I stayed with her… there was always a connection between us, but her love for me was not enough to overcome her perception of my flaws.

I loved her unconditionally, totally, and without hesitation…

I saw myself sharing a life with her, growing old with her, being there for her.

We became good friends, she joined the solar business, I thought we could have a great future together.

We had great conversations, about everything. Winni is very bright, and she was always reading and improving herself. I loved how we would debate stuff.

We kept dating through 2019, and then 2020 hit with the pandemic and we broke up again from March to June of 2020. During that time we both dated again, but we were back together in June of 2020, until she broke up with me again in 2020, just after Christmas.

On again, off again, certainly not by my choice. I loved her unconditionally, fully and completely.

We both shared Christmas’s of 2019 and 2020, am I’m grateful for that.

I’m grateful for the many nights we fell asleep together and the many mornings she woke up in my arms.

I’m grateful for every kiss we shared, every hug, every laugh.

I’m grateful that I grew to know and love her children.

In 2021 both Winni and I went out and dated other people. In November of 2021 we were both single and I invited Winni to go with me on a six day vacation in New Mexico. We went as friends, her daughter joined us… and I fell in love with her all over again, knowing she did NOT feel the same about me.

We had a really nice time together in New Mexico… we hiked in the mountains, rode the cable car to Sandia Peak, saw WhiteSands, paid $15 to go deep into Carlsbad Caverns… I wrote about the trip in a blog post in November.

After the NM trip W started dating someone else, again.

It broke my heart, all over again.

Maybe I’m a fool for loving Winni and her family, it really defies all logical thought.

She broke my heart, so many times, but I loved her so much I kept coming back for more.

A part of me wishes that Winni had loved me MORE than my flaws, that she had seen my heart, and let me be her husband, let me be a loving father to her kids.

The love was always there.

Summer, 2019.

I went to therapy, and tried to sort out this stuff. I don’t know if it worked.

Maybe all along I was a fool for loving her, but the heart wants what the heart wants, ya know?

Ben Alexander

January 20th :::: 2022