Lightning Strike

By Susan Traugh

I’d already kissed a thousand frogs. But no one had turned into a prince. One by one, I’d watched my friends find love and marry. One by one they’d moved on while I stood alone and rejected. I was thirty-three; craving marriage; dreaming of happily ever after. Yet, a national woman’s magazine that year said a woman my age had a greater chance of being struck by lightning.

And, then, I was.

The irony was: I’d given up. I’d moved in with my brother so I wouldn’t have to be alone. My cats cuddled next to me at night so I wouldn’t notice the cold emptiness on the other side of the bed. Teaching in the inner city provided the babies I longed for and the world-saving service that made me feel needed in the world and not just that eternal fifth wheel that showed up at married friends’ dinner parties. I’d created order and service out of my loss and moved my life along in a measured, if dully predictable, step.

Then Heaven interceded.

I was the music expert at school. I coordinated the plays, wrote the curriculum and planned the festivals. So, when “he” was supposed to come to the school to teach the teachers a whole new music system, I was unimpressed – so unimpressed that I didn’t show up for the workshop. I’d had the flu and was just coming back to school. I needed to get back to my students and dreaded spending the day with this artist-in-residence. I already had my music program nailed and didn’t need guidance from some so-called expert. So, I stayed home another day and skipped his workshop.

When I returned, “Mr. Tra-la-la” was the talk of the school. The teachers were all atwitter with the funny, clever, talented Mr. Traugh. I wanted to gag.

Glad to have missed the workshop, I got back to work with my kids and forgot about the near miss. But, he returned.

Every week for six weeks, he’d come back for a workshop. Every week for five weeks, I avoided seeing him. And then a fellow teacher grabbed me. “You’ve got to meet him!” Lynne cooed. “He’s so good at what he does. But, you have to see his book. It’s self-published curriculum. You could do that. Come on, I’ll introduce you.”

Later, she confessed she knew it was a lure I’d lunge at, and that, really, she just thought it was a match. But, back then, I just wanted to learn how to publish the books that floated in my head. So, I followed her.

He was bending over his MGB when we got to the parking lot. His black trench coat obscured his body, and his head was deep in the trunk as he arranged his books. Lynne caught his attention and asked to introduce us. Mr. Traugh straightened up and turned around.

Have you ever seen those movie special effects where the boom zooms in at break-neck speed, like the eye of God coming from the universe to the center of your iris? That’s where we were as the electricity between us actually made Lynne take a step back. “Oh, there you are,” whispered the knowing voice in my head. All those silly movie clichés about rainbows and shooting stars and lightning strikes suddenly weren’t silly, suddenly weren’t cliché. Our souls instantly knew each other and, in that moment, they proposed and accepted. I shook his hand and, then and there, the deal was sealed.

Our first date was the day after Valentine’s Day. Always-a-bridesmaid, I would be the Maid of Honor at my kid sister’s wedding the day before our date.

I would be the bride in October.

I’ve been Mrs. Traugh for twenty-three years now. We still have the china we picked out on our first date. We also have dozens of published books between us, having learned to coordinate our talents to a whole greater than the sum of its parts. And, despite dire predictions from infertility specialists, we have three of the most precious children to ever walk the planet.

But, happily-ever-after doesn’t mean fade to black. Happily-ever-after is about life’s adventures. It’s about infertility and miscarriages, and tragic accidents and financial ruin. It’s about wonderful triumphs and devastating defeats. It’s about holding each other up as we tread water as fast as we can. And, it’s about knowing where the port is during life’s most tumultuous storms.

Just when I thought there were no more men left for the taking, I took the best. Steven is loving, spiritual, funny, intelligent and self-deprecating. We’re that old couple on the beach, holding hands, looking more and more alike each year. He’s strong where I’m weak and weak where I’m strong. We hold each other up, kick each other’s butts, kiss each other’s wounds, stroke each other’s cheek.

Now, my bed is never cold – those babies I wanted are nearly grown, but we five still cuddle and kiss and talk in that big family cocoon And, working with my husband, I have the creative, service oriented career I’d always dreamed of and the happily ever after that felt so elusive.

I suppose the magazine was right. I was old. I needed to be struck by lightning. And I was. On our wedding day, I gave Steven a ring with five diamonds. Inside the ring an inscription reads: Worth waiting for. Amen.

About this writer

  • Susan Traugh Susan Traugh is an award-winning author of both commercial and educational books for children and adults. She lives in California with her husband and three teenagers.

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One Response to “Lightning Strike”

  1. monica says:

    i’ll keep kissing those frogs because my prince is still waiting. this was a great article! keeping them coming!!!!

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