You can google just about anything and find an answer. However, “pursuing your best friend’s widow” is a search that probably will not yield many answers. Questions such as “Is it okay to feel this way? Is she going to think I’m crazy? Will this hurt people?” are what you wrestle with when you realize you are falling in love with the wife of a dear friend you lost.
Jordan died on March 20, 2014. I have never known a man so brave. He wrestled through his second battle of cancer alongside his wife, Cady, for 9 months. If you have not read their story, you can here. Getting the phone call that Jordan was gone still seems surreal to me. Doing life without him here on this earth is incredibly difficult- even to this day.
When Jordan and Cady were married, I did not have the chance to know Cady as well as I knew Jordan. I knew that she seemed like the woman for him from day one, and I was so thankful that such a strong and godly woman was marrying one of my closest friends. Cady came to visit my parents’ home on July 20th, Jordan’s first birthday after he left this earth to be with Jesus. One of her closest friends arranged the trip as a getaway for her. I happened to be staying there before I moved to Minneapolis for seminary. My family prayed that she would be ministered to during her time on the trip. Well, if you know Cady (or have followed her story), you know that she actually ended up doing the ministering to our family. She got out of the car with a massive suitcase to give clothes to me, as a way to honor husband’s close friend. Looking back, this is a visual of who Cady is- no matter what season of life she is in she looks for ways to give and serve others.
That weekend, a new type of friendship started between Cady and me. I found that I wanted to be around her often. I perceived this desire to be around her at that time as a deep care and respect for this amazing widow.
Not to be sappy, but I experienced what can only be described as a kind of “love at first sight” that weekend. Oh, it wasn’t at first literal sight. It was immediate love when I saw her with new eyes.
My Dad, as he likes to do, was giving us a tour of the Charleston area on his boat. I was talking to Cady, and she began to ask me questions that related to theology and my life aspirations with a certain intentionality that impressed me.
When I looked at her, it was as if a veil was lifted off of my eyes to change how I saw Cady. My view of her shifted from my friend’s wife to a woman I could have feelings for…. and it was scary. Scary in that I had no idea if anyone- including her- would be okay with me having those feelings. In all honesty, I wasn’t even sure if I was okay with having these feelings. But when I saw her in this new light, it was love at first sight for me.
I knew at that moment that I would wait as long as it took to pursue this beautiful woman. I finally understood the kind of fondness Jacob had for Rachel, who worked for his uncle for 14 years to have Rachel as his bride. I understood how it did not even feel that long for him because she was worth it (Gen. 29:15–30).
After her trip to Charleston, we stayed in touch. We texted often and enjoyed a wonderful friendship with one another. I spent countless hours in prayer the first month after her trip. I didn’t know how to talk to anyone about how I felt.
One month later, I talked to my parents about my feelings for Cady. They encouraged me and actually affirmed that they had seen God’s hand in our interactions that weekend she was staying with us (thank the Lord for wise and good parents). I then began communicating to my accountability partners and mentors from seminary about my processing and prayers about Cady. Finally, I let some of my (and Jordan’s) close friends in on my process.
I came to terms relatively quickly about my feelings. The biggest aspect I had to accept is that this pursuit would honor Jordan. Deuteronomy 25:5 instructs a single man to marry his own brother’s wife should she be widowed. While this situation did not exactly line up with that law and Christians are not technically under that law anymore, the practical wisdom of this precept stood out to me. When you both know and love the one who has passed away, it is something you share in your relationship. I do not know how I could have walked through this season without knowing Jordan. Cady and I get the chance to reminisce about this amazing man, and when Jordan is discussed at family gatherings I have the opportunity to not only appreciate the memories of him, but also contribute.
After several months of growing in our friendship and seeking counsel of wise men and women in my life, I decided that our “friendship” had gotten to the point where we needed to address what was happening. I realized this conversation was necessary after after a phone call that lasted late and was more than a few hours. (Dudes, if you have a “friendship” like this, it is time to address it.) We just happened to be in the same town several months later for a friend’s wedding. I was beyond nervous to talk to her about my feelings. I had no idea how she would react. Would she think I was crazy? Was I majorly off and simply misinterpreting the development of our relationship? Nevertheless, we went to breakfast the next morning, and I told her how I felt.
She was beyond gracious. I did not use the “L” word (and would not for about 5–6 months for wisdom’s sake). But I told her that I had developed strong feelings for her. I told her that I knew the timing was not good, but I wanted to address what was happening between us. I also asked her for permission to move forward in our friendship knowing how I felt. I told her I would wait for as long as it took. My primary concern was that she could continue the healing process with as much time and space as she needed. She told me she thought I was the right fit for her, but she would need time. She encouraged me in our relationship, and she too was excited to grow in our intentional friendship. I told her that Jordan would always be a part of our lives. We would celebrate him together and tell his story together. She bravely agreed to begin this journey with me, and she has been incredible. Never has a woman so gracefully navigated such a difficult situation. She has so carefully appreciated her and Jordan’s marriage, and not let that keep her from having a new relationship with me.
Now we are in a place where we are public (obviously) about our relationship. We are excited to continue our journey together, and are thankful to share this part of our lives with the entire community around us.