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Long Distance Relationship
Our story started in Minnesota on May 21st of 2001 when we first met. I worked as a cashier/Supervisor for a major grocery store in Duluth. Jeff, my significant other, his brother and father were on their way to Bemidji, Mn to go fishing (Cass Lake). He and his family are from Stevens Point to Green Bay area. As they crossed the bridge from Superior, Jeff's father got off the wrong exit. They were supposed to be on Hwy 2 Exit instead of Hwy 53 N. Jeff was taking a catnap as he awoke and realized they were on the wrong highway. He jokingly called his father and brother a couple of eggheads and so they decided to buy groceries and get some directions. I was working on that morning checking out customers. I had been recently separated and divorced for 5 months. This is a hard stage and I have three children, at that time they were my daughter 4,and my two boys 6, and 10.
My ex-spouse and I had been married 11 1/2 years and our love just dissipated.I had moved to a trailer park from our country home and was feeling some lonely times and my adjustments were tough. My ex-husband and I shared custody of our three children but the children felt more comfortable and secure at their homestead. Anyways I hadn't been dating, just going out on occasions with friends.
Jeff, his dad and brother bought their groceries and he admitted later, he noticed me from the time he walked in the door. They came through my checkout area and we had quite the discussion at the counter. There was definitely an attraction and a flicker in our eyes.He confessed that he noticed I didn't have a wedding ring on and asked if I was married in which I proceeded to tell him no and was divorced but it was difficult with my children. He too then went on to tell he also was recently divorced for 9 months and too had two girls, ages 7 and 9. He had been married 11 years and we both agreed on how hard it is with our children to cope. We then went on to a lighter note and started talking about their fishing plans to Cass Lake where they had rented a cabin for four days. I told him I grew up on a lake nearby and loved to fish for walleyes. His eyes grew alit me he thought I had a beautiful smile and gave me his cell phone number and asked me to call him. I was pretty nervous but I couldn't deny the feeling I had about him. I called that evening after talking to a few of my friends. I am very shy usually, but there was something inside that made me want to call. He was so excited when I called and we seemed to have so much to talk about. He was fishing in his boat at the time and he asked again if I'd like to come for a day. I did have the next couple of days off and I did it.
My family and friends were taken in awe by my actions. I've always been so cautious but I gave everyone my opinion that I just had to go meet him anand with a flirting note in his voice he asked if I'd like to come along. I played along and said I had to work but it sounded like fun. At this time I was getting a little nervous and his father just kind of rolled his eyes as he wrote his check and we ended our conversation. As he left, I felt a little flutter in my stomach and a little sadness he was leaving. Well, low and behold two minutes later, he was in my line with a newspaper and a small sheet of paper. He smiled and proceeded to tell d his father and brother seemed quite harmless. I ended up spending two days with them at the cabin and we couln't seem to get enough of each other.
But then this is where the hard part came in, when we had to depart. We lived 4 1/2 hours away from each other. This did not seem fair.He sent a dozen roses the next day after our depart with a note saying, "I know the distance is over a mile, it's your style and beautiful smile that will keep me around a long while! A very happy person, Jeff. I still have this card and a picture of him in my purse.My younger son was there when I received my roses and I had showed him a couple of gifts Jeff had given me at the cabin. His comment to me was, "Mom, he must be the nicest guy in the whole world!" Of course he saw my reaction to the flowers and note and this was the first man I had seen since the divorce and I was trying to be protective of their reaction to someone entering my life besides their father.Jeff and I continued to talk on the phone daily and our challenges ahead, especially in the reactions to our children. Somehow, we had make this work. First, we arranged a meeting two weeks later with his family at their family cottage. Jeff is from a family of nine children, he is second to the youngest. It was wonderful.
They were all wonderful to me. I met his two girls and they were fishing, so we had something in common. He showed me his newer home in the country in Stevens Point and it was a beatiful area. Jeff and I realized we were falling in love and we couldn't seem to stop it. We decided to have our kids meet each other at my trailer in Minnesota and they played well together. Things were great, we'd go to the Lake Superior together with our children who got along so well. But how could we do this. I was getting impatient. Maybe this was a crazy time for me, my kids had fun when we were all together but had no interest in moving. Their father was very good to them and they enjoyed their own home and familiarity. I had a break-in at the trailer park I lived in and someone broke into my car. I no longer felt safe and Jeff seemed to want to protect me and I wanted so desperately to be with him.There are so many questions and sometimes not enough answers.Our phone calls were getting more painful and I found it hard to hang up.
After three months of our original meeting I decided I wanted to move to Wisconsin and I discussed it with my children's father. This is something I don't recommend because I suffered dearly without my children. We still shared custody but I would visit any time, but he would have permanant residence during the school year and this was understandable because my children needed stability. My children seemed okay with this arrangement too, but I really wasn't realizing how hard it would really be. My visitation would be on any weekends and summmertime visits. This is where your mind starts playing tricks on you.
And the common saying of easier said than done comes to play. I moved and left my job of 15 years.I had a job lined up in cell phone sales in which Jeff helped me get into and I loved where I lived. I was with the man I wanted to be with and talked to my children daily. I got along with his children and ex-spouse. This startled everybody, my family, friends and co-workers. It did not take long for us to realize that this was not probably the solution because I did alot of driving and stayed with family in Minnesota. I believe soon after reality had hit us and that even though Jeff and I were together and we made our visits,it just wasn't right that I did all this traveling back and forth. I was struggling with my job to get off early and make the trip.I had to see my kids. I did alot of soul searching there and even though Jeff and I were still in love it was so tough cause he had his children part-time and he said too so many times it just wasn't fair.Many times we talked of my leaving and going back home with my children.I would talk to my children about this and they did not want me to leave because they too would miss everyone. I was a good mother and we always did special things with our times together but that wasn't enough, but we kept doing it. My children were doing well but the emotional impact it had was a loss for me.
How could I make this choice. Believe it or not I stayed there for 2 1/2 years,we couldn't seem to end this. I changed jobs into homecare to which was more flexible but it was tough.In January of 2002,Jeff had left his job of twelve years and decided to finish school for Special Education. He was 40 years old and went full-time and he had some investment troubles along the way, costing him plenty. He had to use his 401k to get through his schooling, our finances were getting to be a struggle but we kept trying.Jeff graduated in January of 2004 with a 3.7. I was very happy for him.But inside I struggled for my own career path,our situation with the travel, and I was looking into areas for dental school but knew in my heart the only way I could do this was to go back to Minnesota, work, go to school, and still see my children. We had a birthday party for our kids in Wisconsin the end of February and talked about discussing it with them then. This was not easy, they did not want this but we explained it just was too hard this way.We didn't dir ectly tell them it was for sure but no one else could come up with a better solution.Jeff's oldest daughter was not feeling well one day shortly after. She was feeling really tired and was drinking alot of fluids. Jeff and I started to become concerned so we arranged to take her into the doctor. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. It was another trial in our lives.We learned the education and she has shots twice a day.How could I leave now, but I knew she had her mother and father and that we could still maintain our relationships in having our kids see one another.In the end of March 2004, I finally was coming to the decision that no matter how much I loved Jeff, his girls, and his family I would need to go back. We discussed it with his sister and a few other family members with sadness but with much understanding. I talked to my boss about working nights at my old job. This really did not feel right either. I talked to my ex-husband about it and he was skeptical as to why I'd want to do this. Naturally I needed to because of my children and this was the only way. On March 31st it was my 35th birthday and I had a good discussion with my ex-spouse and the boy's next wrestling tournament. He wished me a happy birthday and that was it. Jeff and I spent a nice evening together but it was very hard. This is when our story took another turn, On April 1st, I received a phone call from my mother with a cry in her voice that Bruce (my ex-husband) was dead. He had died that morning with a massive heart attack in his sleep. I was devastated beyond belief! How could this be, he was only 47! All I could think about was my kids and how we were going to handle this. Jeff and I drove to Minnesota, which seemed to be the longest trip of my life. My mom and Bruce's mother had picked up the kids at school and told them what happened. My mom said it was one of the worst things she's ever had to do. I moved into Bruce's home with my kids so I could take care of all the financial needs and the probate process of his estate which will go to my children. I am happy to be with my children full-time again and Jeffhas been with me through the whole process,although I am very sad it happened this way.
I still took CPR and first aid training and oOur initial thoughts were we'd bring my children back to Wisconsin but this was timeto put my kids first and time could only tell. I was very fortunate to get a job through a very special friend of mine right away working with kids and adults with disabilities. I am able to work at home and take my kids with me. I am happy I read alot of Jeff's college papers for spelling errors and critiques because it gave me the preparation for understanding my own new job. I took CPR and First Aid training and find it very rewarding that we're in good health. Jeff's children and my children have spent a good summer together. Through the summer they still wanted me to marry Jeff but they wanted to stay here. We've managed to explain to them alot of things over our arrangement and long distance. Also the financial responsibility of two homes. My children have acquired a small farm of animals which include three emus (ostrich-like birds), rabbits, chickens, 2 dogs and 4 cats (2 of which Jeff and I had given them from a litter of one of his cats). My children are currently 7,9, and 12. They are great children and have survived well through everything. We've talked about moving to Wisconsin after this school year as there are still things needed to be done with the current home we're in and estate issues that need to be resolved. Jeff needs to do some things also with his home to prepare for the animals and more rooms in his house. Now they are so excited about moving that they want to go now. They even got to go to orientation with Jeff's daughters to their schools. I have to say even though my decision in moving there was too hasty and not well planned, I wouldn't change a thing. I've experienced much more than sometimes I thought I could handle over the past three years and alot was painful but you learn to grow stronger and realize life has many ups and downs and I've always kept my love and hope that somehow we'll be together. We've had to reassess everything and it's still hard. There's family here that are going to find it hard in letting us go. And Jeff is still looking for a teaching job and it is hard financially. As much as we wish'd we could do this now it will take time. The new school year has started and we've been trying to figure our times on the holidays. His brother has a cabin 1/2 way and that will have to be our meeting point on the short weekends. Our love is still very strong and we have been through so much together. We miss each other so much and our last meeting when he came here was the hardest. Sometimes it seems we're both so sad the last day and our children are trying to get in as much as possible before they depart. We keep reminding each other that the school year will go by fast and hopefully everything will fall into place. We want the story where you live happily ever after. It's just getting to that point.
We know we have a big job ahead in raising a family of five but we are determined to make it work, pets and all. Thank you for your time. I emailed Jeff yesterday in telling him how much I miss him and the girls and my next internet search would be in surviving long distance relationships. This is how I reached this sight. I am looking forward to reading the books I ordered. Sherri
Sherri, Minnesota, USA
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