Chapter 43: Engaged to be married to a pirate at Border of Crazy
My head is down on the kitchen counter, buried in the crook of my arm as I cry inconsolably. Mr. Pizza and MSP attempt to comfort me, to no avail.
MSP implores, “Mama, what’s wrong? Why are you so sad?”
I try to catch my breath so I can answer her. Gathering myself, I walk into the bathroom to get a tissue and blow my nose. I sit back down and, through fresh tears, share, “I have everything I could ever want, and I can’t stop crying!” laughing a little as I realize how ridiculous this sounds. I go on to explain, “I know this sounds crazy, but you are attending school in Westfield, and you are happy; Mr. Pizza just moved in, and I just got promoted at work. I’m so delighted, and yet I’m so afraid it will all being taken from me.”
This was a regular Thursday night. My promotion was just announced to the organization I’ve worked at for 11 ½ years, and Mr. Pizza had moved in a couple of weeks prior. MSP had a great week at school and made friends, which was one of her biggest worries. It was working; I was succeeding at the work-from-home, teach-from-home, partner-at-home pandemic shelter-at-home thing. Regardless of the difficulties the pandemic brought, I was happier than I’ve ever been, and I simply couldn’t allow myself to enjoy this stage of my life.
It was so alien to finally get to a place where I felt content and safe; to feel this loved and joyous. I couldn’t wrap my head around it. It was uncomfortable, and I didn’t trust this joy for one second.
Yes, I know this sounds insane. Truth be told, I’m 46 years old, and my life was finally in sync. Everything I have yearned for since I was a little girl was delivered to me. Everything I fought to have was brilliantly and beautifully present in my life…and all I could do was wait for the bottom to fall out.
The next night, we drove MSP to her father’s house in Brooklyn for the weekend.
Later that evening, Mr. Pizza made reservations at one of our favorite Westfield restaurants called Limani. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend it. They offer some of the best seafood in a relaxed, romantic environment. You can enjoy a home-cooked meal with friendly service without picking up a pot or turning on the stove.
We were going to celebrate my promotion, and I couldn’t wait for that first sip of wine accompanied by some fresh oyster and grilled octopus. My mouth watered as we got closer to the restaurant on our way back to Westfield. There is no better way to commemorate this accomplishment, 25 years in the making, than good wine, good food, and the best company.
Mr. Pizza generously expresses his pride to me. He says that he is blown away by what I’ve achieved and couldn’t wait to properly celebrate.
When we got to the restaurant, they brought us to the best table by the window. Not many people were in the restaurant due to the COVID limitations, and we were right near the door, which was open to ensure proper ventilation.
As I looked at the table, I noticed a bottle of champagne and immediately turned to Mr. Pizza and said, “Babe, there’s a bottle of champagne on the table! What’s that for?” He said, “Well, we didn’t celebrate our 1st anniversary or your promotion yet, so I thought it would be nice to pop a bottle!”
I turned and swiftly planted a kiss on his sweet face. “You always think of everything! Thank you, baby, that’s so thoughtful.”
We proceed to order our meal, a dozen oysters, spanakopita, and 2 lb. lobster smothered in pesto sauce. A total feast and I couldn’t wait to dig in.
We relish every bite and talk about how far we’ve come in just a year. Even though we faced tremendous life challenges and changes, our friendship and partnership helped both of us not only survive but thrive.
We begin to detail everything we’ve been through this year, starting with MSP getting the flu in January, followed by me getting the stomach flu and an ear infection. My mother had emergency surgery, and then the ultimate challenge… quarantine.
Like many couples, Mr. Pizza and I had to decide whether he would stay at his place or shelter-at-home with us. This was not an easy decision. We were together for six months, and our relationship was getting stronger every day.
We had to choose whether he would stay at his apartment with his roommate or board up in my house. I couldn’t take the risk of him going back and forth since I share custody with MSP’s father.
Mr. Pizza was so confident; it was a no brainer. Yet I was concerned that living together this early in our relationship could either bring us closer or break us up. I mean 24-7 together? This would no doubt be the best test for a prospective future together.
So, we went all in.
In addition to the pandemic pressure cooker, Mr. Pizza was going through the mediation for his divorce and selling his house. I dealt with the visitation battle with MSP’s father as she decided to attend Middle School in Westfield, NJ so we needed to revise the guidelines.
If that wasn’t enough, Mr. Pizza’s mother’s health took a turn for the worse. She was sick for a long time with rare blood cancer, and it was finally taking its toll.
I am truly blessed to have met her twice before she died. During our brief conversations, I thanked her for gifting the world with such an extraordinary person and promised I would take care of him forever. She generously gave me her blessing to marry her son in the future (Mr. Pizza told her his plans the week before she passed).
No matter how strong she was or how hard she fought, she sadly lost her cancer battle on July 24. May she rest in eternal peace.
After all that, plus three canceled vacations (Italy, Delaware, and South Carolina), we were at our wits’ end. We yelled at the universe, is that all you got?
And then, somehow, things started to shift.
Mr. Pizza and I were utterly amazed as we went through this laundry list of memories. As we held hands, we acknowledged that our friendship, respect, trust, and love grew by leaps and bounds while we faced all those trials and tribulations. We succeeded despite the odds.
Even more, MSP and Mr. Pizza’s love grew as well; they became best buddies. They were and are thick as thieves, inciting the most profound joy in my heart. We adopted a wonderful dog named Bella, and our little family became a cocoon of laughter, love, strength, and support.
No matter how bad things got, we “batton’d down the hatches” and relied on each other. We were ready to ride the waves of the most tumultuous storms with our favorite “matey’s.”
All this conversation made my heart swell. It ached with the happiness I’d dreamed of my whole life, the joy that often slipped through my fingers like sand. Now I was ready to receive it because I forgave myself.
I let go of my past transgressions and poor decisions. Forgave all my trespasses and missteps. It was time to live for today, in the present with this beautiful human in my life. My eyes welled with tears AGAIN! Filled with the most sumptuous, delicious bliss that I wish upon every single human being.
As we finished dinner, practically licking the plate clean, Mr. Pizza pulls out a folded letter from his jacket pocket. He turns to me as he begins to unfold it and says, “So, I wrote this the other night for you cause I wanted to express how happy I am in my life. Can you please read it and let me know what you think?”
This was not unusual because he often showers me with little love notes, cards, and letters. I said, “Of course, baby, I’d love to, but I don’t have my glasses. Can you please read it for me?”
He let out a deep breath and began to read.
My One and Only True Love
When our eyes first locked and I gazed deeper into them, I did not know that we would be where we are today. All I knew, for some unknown reason, was that I felt love for you on that beautiful day.
I was in a lonely place, but as soon as you came into my life, you became my beacon of light. Love can sometimes be a complicated thing, but it does not have to be work, as our passion can attest to, and why it feels so right.
You are the first beautiful vision my eyes look upon when I wake and the last when I close my eyes at night. The calm that runs through me each time makes it feel comforting and right.
The love that I feel for you makes butterflies shutter in my inner core, and they set fireworks in motion.
You inspire and motivate me to a depth I had never realized or felt. I am once again whole and more determined in my life because of you, the one that makes me melt.
Your loving words, caring, unselfishness, and compassion are a few things that I adore.
We became best friends. First, you taught me the true meaning of empathy. You are my beautiful person and showed me true love does exist, and for these reasons, I could not ask for more.
I cannot imagine anyone else that I would cherish to spend the rest of my life with and everything that awaits us. You are my lover, partner, and soulmate, and I adore you from the depth of my heart and someone I can always count on and trust.
Bella, I am so deeply in love with you; I would do anything for you and will always treat you the way you deserve to be loved and treated. I love the life and family we have created and a home full of joy. _____________________________________________________________________
His hand trembles as I hold it firmly in mine. Tears are flowing once again as I realize what is about to happen.
Getting toward the end of the letter, I notice that the bottom of the page is folded.
Before he unfolds it, he directs me to turn around and look behind me. And what to my wondering eyes should appear, but the entire wait staff holding a vinyl sign and a dozen red roses.
As I turn back to answer the questions printed on the sign, Mr. Pizza is on his knees with THE ring in hand and proceeds to read the end of the letter…
What I am trying to say to you now and forever, “Christine, will you marry me and make me the happiest man alive?” Love always, Mr. Pizza
The tears that pour from my eyes contrast with the ear-to-ear smile on my face.
Taking a deep cleansing breath, I answer him very clearly, “Yes, Mr. Pizza. YES, I will marry you today, tomorrow, and always!!!”
The three couples present in the restaurant cheer and toast to our engagement. One of them shares their love story. They are a second-time around marriage and married for over three decades. I take this as a good omen.
The fucking ring is spectacular. He got it custom-designed by his jeweler, inspired by a ring I saw and fell in love with from St. John. This man knows me so well, and this stunning piece of jewelry confirms that he just gets me.
Breath-taken and dazed, I look at him and am just blown away.
The words aren’t coming because I am utterly stunned. “Mr. Pizza, this is too much! I can’t believe you did this!” He gently says, “I love you, my Bella, and I want to spend my life with you. It’s that simple. I know everything isn’t perfect, but we are perfect together.”
My eyes meet his, and with one eyebrow raised, I passionately say, “Let’s go home.”
We beeline out of the restaurant, hop into the car, and take the five-minute ride home. Clearly, I want to demonstrate my gratitude in the only way I can at this moment.
As we pull into the driveway, the house is dark, and I jump out of the car before he gets to a full stop. We walk up the steps, and I open the door, turn on the light and hear the loud screech of the word,
Some of our closest friends and family were waiting inside for us to celebrate! My best friend decorated the house and had champagne and dessert across every table in the place. Pre-COVID type of hugs, laughs, and toasts ensue; we party until 2am.
What can I say? This man knows me. He knows that while I would want the proposal to be more private, he also knows that I want to share it with those we love and who are an integral part of our story.
Sadly, the only one that missed this celebration was MSP. Her absence weighed on my heart. Because Mr. Pizza and I aren’t just getting married, we are coming together as a family, and she is the other third of our whole. The residue and complications of divorce once again threaten to invade my joy…
On top of that, I haven’t met Mr. Pizza’s children as they are also struggling with the circumstances of divorce. But I am optimistic that once things settle, it will all fall into place.
Before I let the wave of sadness overwhelm me, I turn to my love and commit to never letting the bottom fall out, to always be his net as he is mine. To be his first mate, a partner in crime, and forever love.
Later that night, one of our friends asked about the plans for the wedding…I joked that it was a little soon to ask as we literally just got engaged! However, I already knew the answer, we are getting married on a Pirate ship in St. John, paying homage to the night we met. As I wrote back in January, six years later, after 50 first dates, I finally found true love at a Pirate party.
I started blogging for The Daily Feels on April 3rd, 2018 as a single divorced career mom. Starting this journey with my first blog Welcome to the Border of Crazy.
It’s been quite a roller coaster ride transporting me finally to steady ground. The TDF community has graciously read and supported a very messy, clunky, raw, and emotional voyage to this monumental moment in my life. My heart is full of gratitude for all the times you cheered me on and showed support.
This is not the end but a new beginning and one I hope to continue to share our story with TDF readers and friends. My hope is to provide inspiration to those going through a breakup or divorce or for those seeking love, and confirm that there is hope, love, and light. Do the work, believe in your truth, and be willing to open your eyes and your heart.
Walk over that Border of Crazy proudly, confidently, honestly, and authentically knowing that the other side could hold your happily ever after.
Cherry Maggiore is the proud single mom of her 10-year-old super-sassy daughter (aka Miss Sassy Pants or MSP); in addition to being an award-winning senior marketing executive at a major media company.
Beside her side hustle as the Freak of Nurture, she also started a home design company after being inspired by renovating and designing her 1880’s home in NJ.
This insanely curious and passionate “multi-potentialite” can be found dancing the Argentinan tango, swing and Hustle every Saturday, cooking her family an Italian Sunday dinner, singing and air drumming at concerts or searching for her next adventure