November 23, 2015

Love In a Red Cup

It all started with a cup of coffee.

He came into Starbucks a few weeks ago. He came in with a friend – a very darling cutie pie of a girl whom I assumed he was dating. I took his order, and he told me what he really wanted more than anything was some almond milk for his coffee. As I’ve been trained, I apologized that we didn’t have exactly what he wanted, and I offered him every other kind of milk to make his drink complete.

His friend, the cutie pie, leaned into our dialogue with a stage whisper, “Don’t let him fool you. He’s a former Starbucks partner, and he knows you don’t have Almond Milk. He’s just giving you a hard time.”

Well, in that case… Game. On.Kuala Lumpur -Malaysia,November 12, 2015: The new paper cup of S

He says that he was captivated by me from that very first conversation, when I engaged with eye contact and a smile, when I kept up with his witty banter. I thought it was merely a great customer connection, just me doing my job really well. After all, remember, he was with Cutie Pie. Or so I thought. Turns out, sometimes friends-who-aren’t-dating just meet for coffee on occasion.

He was intrigued, and he wanted more of these interactions. So he began his pursuit. He came back the next day to see if I was working. When I wasn’t there, he came by the next day. And then the next. Always with a playful banter, a very witty, flirty approach to getting his cup of coffee.

He has such a gentle, disarming approach to life, and he talked me right out from behind the counter. Everything was on my terms, on my timing, and whenever I was ready. He just kept showing up for more coffee, waiting for me to take the next step. As it turns out, even a girl whose heart has been shattered can learn to trust again with enough time and courage.

He started coming at the end of my shift, sitting at the bar at the end of the counter, waiting for me to finish working so I might join him. One day, he said, “So, tell me your story.”

It was profound, the realization in that moment that he knew nothing about me, the author-blogger-speaker-teacher-widow with an internet presence. He hadn’t studied me on the internet, read my blog, googled me, or facebook stalked. He just liked what he knew, and he wanted more. And I cannot tell you how unbelievably attractive that was to me.

I tilted my head and settled my gaze, a vulnerable gesture he still talks about. I said, “I have a story. It’s a sad one, but it’s a good one.”

One conversation led to another, as the best conversations do.

One day he said, “Trish, I know Starbucks is your safe place, and I’ll keep coming here for as long as you want. But when you’re ready to come out of your cocoon, I’d like to see if we can continue this conversation in other places.”

He and I began to learn each other’s stories. I learned that he does impeccable accents and cartoon voices, from Kermit the Frog to Mrs. Doubtfire’s perfect Scottish brogue. (He has come through the drive-thru at Starbucks to flirt with me via the microphone when I was taking orders. And let me tell you, one never knows who might show up if he is behind the wheel.)

I learned that he’s a recruiter, the CEO of his own company, and a networking genius. He partners with corporate businesses’ hiring processes to place employees in the most effective positions. He’s known widely as the guy to call if you’re looking for a job or the perfect employee. He’s an old fashioned guy, and he’s unapologetically attached to his core values. He prioritizes things like eye contact and thank you notes, learning people’s names and creating significant conversations in the briefest moments.

He learned my story. When he learned I’m a writer, he bought my books and plowed through 400 pages in a weekend. He took notes and asked questions, setting another date and opportunity to talk about what he’d read. He turned me into a walking book report. (Be still my heart.)

After many, many cups of coffee, he took me out for dinner. He sat across from me and took my hand at the table, and he said —

“I can’t imagine why you’d want to do life with me, but I want you to know, I’d like to give this a try. I love every single thing I know about you, and I only want more. If you’ll have me, I’d like to let the book Wild At Heart play out before you… I’d like to woo the maiden, fight for her, and protect her. I’m not perfect, but I’m a really good tryer. If you’ll let me, I’d like to give this a try.”

He took my hand in his. He said, “What do you think? Would you let this man have a shot at loving you?”

Oh, for crying out loud. They could have brought out a mop to clean me up off the floor. Yes, yes, I believe I’d like to let you give that a try, Peter.

Now, for just a moment, let’s take a step away from that story to talk about what’s probably weighing on your mind, dear readers and fierce protectors who love me so generously even though you’ve perhaps never met me, you invisible community who have kept me from drowning. You may be wondering, Are we sure about this guy? Can we trust him? Can she trust him? Should she? Who’s asking the hard questions? What if she’s swept up in a love story that’s going to come crashing down? And how can she possibly handle a heartbreak like that?

The truth of the matter is that I have a nonnegotiable list of approvals that must take place for major decisions in my life. I have a deeply entrenched network of people around me, individuals who look me in the eye and ask the hard questions, who aren’t afraid of hurting me in the short term if it means protecting me in the long run. I was very honest with Peter about this process, about the many people who have kept me safe from any curveballs I might miss in the blindness of my own enthusiasm.

Peter so graciously responded, “You can take me through the gauntlet of a hundred interviews. I just want to show them all that I’m going to do this right. I am a very patient man, and I’m in no hurry to rush this. I love watching every piece fall into place as you get one green light after another about me. Every time someone approves, I will be reminded of how loved you are.”

So many of you have so many questions, and some of you have the right to ask them. But please know, while I live my life out there on this page, a great many someones are walking through this with me on a private, intimate level. I won’t give an ear of discernment to everyone who asks, but that doesn’t mean I’m not operating with a fierce level of righteous discernment and holy wisdom.

God gives wisdom to those who ask, and I’ve been asking for a long time. I believe he’s answering. After all, he said he would.

Back to the story at hand… after that delicious dinner with my hand in his, Peter called my dad on the phone the next day. As I’ve heard from both of them, the conversation went something like this:

“Doyle, as a dad, I bet you’d like to know my intentions with your daughter, so I want to be above board and tell you straight from the top: I’d like to honor and cherish your daughter. I want to come alongside her and support everything she’s already doing, She’s been so strong for so long, and I’d like to carry that world on her shoulders. Truly, I just want to love her. With your blessing, I’d like to date your daughter.”

You guys, I’m 36 years old. No man needs to ask my dad’s permission for anything. It was such an unnecessary honor to my dad.

I said to Peter, “Nobody would have ever asked you to do that.”

He said, “I’m a man of honor, Tricia. Nobody should have to ask me to do the right thing.”

As you all know so well, my parents have been the lifeline for my boys and me from the very moment Robb died. They are our greatest support system, and they’ve walked this very fine line of supporting me as I rebuilt my life, yet somehow never overstepping into my roles of parenting my boys. They’ve loved me with open hands, with fierce support and readiness to set me free when I could fly again. Peter recognized that intuitively, and he wanted his own relationship with them so they might trust him to be the one to hold this healing mess.

My dad, having never expected the honor of a voice in my dating life again, said, “Yes. Yes, of course, Peter. You have my blessing.”

One day soon after, Peter came over for dinner with me and the boys. Well, I should say that I was a frazzled mess at the end of a very long day, and I texted him truly just to complain that my day was endlessly long from morning business meetings with my literary agent, a day of serving coffee, an afternoon of parent-teacher conferences, followed by a trip to the grocery store and now me fumbling to get hot dogs on the table for dinner. I was honestly just complaining. But he said, “I’m on my way. Put me to work.”

See, the thing is, I’m used to doing it all on my own. By necessity, I’ve had to. And now, along has come Peter, who says to me at least once a day, “I’m here, Tricia. Help is on the way.”

Over my pieced-together dinner of hot dogs and Doritos, Peter asked my sons to tell him the most important things about them. Tuck said he loves football, and his favorite parts of school are recess and lunch; Tyler said he was born with six fingers on his left hand, and he hates to be teased or tickled.

Peter said, “These are so important for me to know, you guys. See, the reason I’m asking is because I came into Starbucks a few weeks ago, and I met your mom. And I really like her. I just really like-like her. And so I’d like to spend some time with your family, and when I’m with someone, I like to know what matters to them, what they want me to know about them. So this is really good for me to know. I want to know about you.”

Then he said, “What would you think if I spent some time with your mom? How would you feel about me dating her?”

Tucker’s face lit up and he threw his arms up like he’d scored a touchdown. “Yes! Someone finally wants to date my mom!”

(Nice, Tuck. Thanks, kiddo.)

Peter said, “Yes, someone sure does. I do. Guys, we have something in common: I didn’t have my dad when I was growing up either. My dad didn’t die, but he just wasn't around. So I grew up without him, and I know what it’s like to just want to have your dad around.

“Tyler, I bet you’d really like to have your dad at your shows and musicals. And Tucker, I bet you’d really like to have your dad at your football games, just like the other guys on your team. Boys, I can’t bring your dad back, and I’m so sorry you don’t have him. But I’ll tell you what… I’d like to be the man in the audience who’s there just for you. What do you think about that?”

Tyler smiled. “I’m okay with that.”

Tucker said, “I’ve waited five years for you, Peter. Finally you’re here. Finally, someone can help me take care of my mom.”

Peter said, “It’s a big responsibility, Tuck. And I understand how you feel – I felt that way about my mom, like I had to look out for her all the time because nobody else was. So I promise you, from this day forward, I will never, ever hurt her. If you’ll trust me, I’d like to be on your team. I’d like to take care of her, so you can work on just being ten years old.”

Peter builds Legos with Tyler; he throws the football with Tucker. He listens to them and laughs with them. We are all pretty smitten with him. When everybody is in bed or at school, I get Peter to myself. And I’ll tell you what… somewhere along the way, I fell in love with this man.

I’ve fallen in love only once before, and that was seventeen years ago. Since you might recall it happened fast and furious, you may be wondering if I’m going to rush into this. I might. Stay tuned.

Someone asked, “So, are you going to take this slow and easy? Or do you just feel like, when you know you know and so why wait?”

Peter said, “Tricia, this is a both/and situation. I know this is it, and I’m also not in a hurry. I’ve waited many years for you, and I’m a very, very patient man. You take all the time you need to be sure and to be ready. Meanwhile, I’m going to give you 100% of me every single day I have the chance, and I’d like to do that for the rest of my life.”

I’ve guarded the story from the eye of Facebook and blog readers, because even the greatest oak trees need some fierce protection while they’re taking root. But I do believe it’s time to tell this story. This is beauty from ashes, the next chapter, a story of redemption, and the grandest miracle I’ve known.

He split the sea so I could walk right through it; my fears were drowned in perfect love.

It’s time to let you in, my dear friends who have lived this story with me, cried your sweet and bitter tears on my behalf, and waited with longing for joy to come in the morning.

A new day is dawning.

And as they say on Facebook, Tricia Lott Williford is in a relationship.

Peter

 

53 comments on “Love In a Red Cup”

  1. Hi Tricia, I've been following you for about a year now (that sounds way creepier than I want it to) and love your writing. Your honesty and depth and hope encourage me. A lot of your posts touch me but I wanted to let you know that this post reminded me of the longing I have inside to be pursued by a strong man and delighted in in a really deep way. Like so deep that it's bigger than any man on earth can ever fill. I think new love has a way of being exciting and huge like that. Thanks for keeping your heart alive through pain, sorrow, anger and hope and writing about it all.

  2. This is SO exciting!!! SO much happens when I don't visit here for a while!!! Can this really be happening?!? He must be really special for you to go public about this relationship to all of your readers....and boy, is he a lucky man!
    (My husband's name is Peter, by the way!) 😉
    Love and hugs (and maybe a giddy squeal or two!) from PA,
    Kim A.

  3. Thank you for sharing this, Tricia. I've been following this story right along from the start, though I've been much more a reader than a commentor over the years. But I couldn't stay quiet this time. This has been a prayer (almost, at times, on an unconscious level, like an ever-present breath prayer) for so long that I find myself surprised at the sense of RELIEF that came with this news. So thrilled for you and the boys.

  4. Yahoooooooooooooooooooooooo!! Answered prayer!

    Love in Christ,

    Evelyn Lambie Hamilton Ontario Canada

  5. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaahoooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!

    Answered prayer!

    Love in Christ,

    Evelyn from Hamilton Ontario Canada.

  6. Tricia, Your stories and life lessons have encouraged and blessed me and many others. So thankful for this beautiful new chapter in your life.

  7. So happy for you and everything, but...
    you have a DRIVE-THROUGH at your Starbucks?
    😉

  8. A few months ago I commented on your blog, and you just happened to email me back. It sort of meant the world to me because I'm just a step behind you in life...5 years, to be exact. I've not walked through loss like you have, but I'm raising babies and sitting in God's presence and watching those who are doing it all one step ahead of me....cousins, friends at church, and one stranger (you). Thanks for kind of mentoring me without knowing it. I really can't say how happy I am for you, and I'm secretly so glad you posted a picture because for some reason that makes it all a million times more exciting. He seems and looks like the best fit for you. I hope God makes this even better than you imagined. I'm truly, truly happy for you.

  9. Oh my goodness! I am sooooo happy for you and your precious boys! You have my prayers!

  10. What a blessing for your boys. God is good all the time. And we know that in ALL things God works for the goodof those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28.

  11. So very happy for you and the boys. Thank you for sharing your new beginning with all of us. I have followed you for a very long time and said many prayers that you would find someone to share your life with and help guide the boys into manhood. Peter also seems to be a romantic/poetic fellow - bet he could end up being a writer too!! Happy new beginning!

  12. My face is sopping wet with tears of joy for you both! Tricia, Peter is an awesome, wonderful, funny man (that is when he isn't Mrs. Doubtfire!) that is a loyal as a bloodhound and as manly as William Wallace! So, so very happy for you both!
    Love, Hilly

  13. Oh Tricia, What a wonderful story of love and confident yet gentle pursuit that you are getting to experience with this man Peter. Such a blessing from the Lord! Praying for you as you move forward trusting and asking the hard questions about what life looks like together. Hugs, Denise

  14. This makes my heart smile. And I'm sure my longtime handsome prince feels the same way.

    And, Tricia? I know you know this, but--it all started LONG before the red cup.

    Hugs! Prayers! Multiplied joy!

  15. Tricia-
    It's crazy how I barely remember you from growing up on Byron drive but I feel like you have been a big part of my life for the past three years. Reading your blog everyday/ week and your books I feel connected to you. Your life is real to me not just something I am reading on the Internet. I have cried and laughed and this post made me do both! Your boys are amazing and I am so happy for you. God has groomed you for this and I believe Peter will change your families lives forever! You are a hero to me- I hope you realize how God has turned your story into a blessing for so many!

  16. I read almost all the words you write on here because of a variety of reasons, but one primary reason is because you tell stories - narratives and sometimes opinion pieces that have a beginning, middle, and end. It's quite different out there these days where more people would rather give advice than tell stories, and I miss the storytellers I used to be able to read (and have since quit writing/blogging).
    So, recently one of the bloggers I read (ihategreenbeans.com) lamented about how there are so few good love stories on TV anymore - where have they gone?? And I'd like to say that I'm *pumped* to read your story here. Even if this is all you post for a while about Peter (real name?), I'm glad to have read it and look forward to what else will come our way.

  17. Trish, I've never met you but I have heard your name countless times. I remember praying for you the week your husband died cause someone in your church asked me too. I've heard countless times, oh this woman's books are good! I am even a great friend of Lisa, a gal you work with at Starbucks. This is the first time I've ever read anything you wrote and OH. MY. WORD. I am crying and SOOOOO happy for you. Some day I will get the honor of actually meeting you and it will be a cool priviledge. May our Loving Lord bless you and Peter's socks off as you walk through this exciting path. Go God! And Go Tricia Lott Williford!

  18. Oh, sweet Tricia. My husband is in the same room where I'm reading this, but he's on a business call. I just said to him, "When you get off the phone, I have to read you a true-life love story. The man in this story? He sounds almost as romantic as you."

    We've been married nearly 40 years, Tricia, and my husband still takes care of me and our kids and grandkids with the heart of a tender gentleman. I pray you're receiving this same blessing, and from the sounds of it, you are! This is the best story I will read in a very long time. Maybe ever. I love you, friend.

  19. Oh Tricia, my heart is so full for you today.....look at you "doing this thing". I was just reminded by FB that it had been 4 years and Ive watched you grow from that girl who couldnt leave her home.....my, my. If there is any doubt that God wasn't in control of your life, this settles that. And to find Peter right under your nose in the very place you've called your safe place.......You've blessed all your fans and supporters today and we are so very humbled and happy for you.

  20. Yay!!! I am so incredibly happy for you. I can't stop these tears from coming out of my face. Thank you Jesus, for sending this special man into this beautiful family's life!

  21. Congratulations! There are more thoughts, but no words worthy... very happy for you all, he sounds like a custom-designed fit, and God gives no less. Bring on the "happily ever after."

  22. It's about time! I love how your love story is playing out. I love that you are in love. And I love love. Yay!

  23. I am sitting here with tears running down my face. SO incredibly happy for you and the boys.

  24. You mean this happened without there being any snowflakes or Christmas decorations on that red cup?! God was still there??

    "Merry, merry Christmas!" to Tricia from Starbucks! Sans snowflakes.

    How like God. Sovereign over all.

    Love the story. Warm blessings to you and all your guys.

  25. Oh.my.goodness! My heart is dancing right now! Talk about crying before finishing the first paragraph!!!

  26. Tricia,
    Oh my golly I could not be happier for you! I have cried and laughed with you the past five years having not ever met you. But, I feel like I most certainly do.
    I just spent the past 5 or so minutes in the waiting room at my doctor's office weeping years of joy for you! I am so happy for you and your boys and your family.
    It sounds to me like Peter is everything you need in your life now. God bless you both. Wishing you continued happiness!

  27. One of the best love stories ever! God is good, and I'm crying happy tears with all the rest. Welcome, Peter!

  28. Well....I have been patiently and anxiously waiting to hear "this" story. (I ran into Tricia and Peter a couple of weeks ago and since I wasn't expecting this, I was all thumbs in my words with Tricia and Peter).
    What a beautiful beginning - this special man to love a beautiful, special woman.
    Words cannot express the joy of my tears at this moment......I love God's timing!!! His Provision and His Power!
    Starbucks of all places!!!! LOVE IT!!!

  29. I cannot stop the tears of joy! What happiness! So so happy for you and the boys. Peter is so blessed to have found you.

  30. I'm one of the silent readers! Your story has touched my heart since I read your post about Robb's passing. This post has blessed my heart. As I read it through tears in my eyes I can honestly say that I am over the moon thrilled for you and your precious boys. Many blessings on this new love!

  31. God is good!!!!! I have followed your story. Admired your strength. Cried and laughed over your writing. This morning I am just so happy for all of you. Go and grab the rest of your lives. God bless!

  32. I LOVE this! I'm so excited for you and thank you so much for sharing the joy that has been prayed your way. Beauty for ashes indeed!!

  33. Can't help but smile so BIG at this post...I have been waiting to hear about Peter as your previous posts have been eluding to him! Being a 3 year old widow myself, I truly am living this journey with you and I have nothing but sweet joy in my heart for the beauty God is giving you for your ashes! Praise be to HIM!!

  34. Oh Tricia, I'm trying to hold back tears. What a beautiful story. I believe Peter was sent from God, and your reward for all you have been though. May you all have a great future together! <3

  35. This makes me cry happy tears! I have prayed that God would bring just the right man as he has done for me; beauty from ashes! Praise Him for his perfect timing! He has accomplished so much through you.

  36. Well, now ! I never knew Ty was born with 6 fingers on his left hand 🙂 I am thrilled for you Tricia and Peter. I love a good love story and this one is the best. I've read it twice. My love and very best wishes to both of you. Lord knows, you deserve it.

  37. Yep, way to make me bawl. I love Peter already, and can't wait to hear more of the story unfolding!

    My friend Isobel lost her husband to a snowmobile accident when her daughter was 6 and her son was 3. She dated a couple of times, but nothing serious, until Mahlon came along. She told me that if, on that first date, he'd said "Let's go get married,", she would have, with NO reservations. She just knew.

    The first time her son met Mahlon, he asked, "Do you love my mom?"

    Mahlon didn't skip a beat. He responded, "Doesn't everybody?" 😀

    Hugs to you and yours.

  38. Yeah, what an amazing story. So happy to hear that Peter is "dating you." Enjoy every moment.

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