A little window into our life. From falling in love, to breaking up, to becoming parents and saying “I do”. This is the story of us.
Every few days or every week i’ll be adding another chapter to this post until it’s complete. All I ask is that you are kind. I’m writing from a very sensitive place in my heart and sharing something vulnerable. My hope is that I can help make just one person feel less alone during a hard time. We are all imperfect. We are living and experiencing all the good and the bad that life has to offer. Everyone is going through something. Let’s never forget that.
BECOMING THE ROSSETTI’S
I. IT’S NICE TO MEET YOU
II. FALLING APART
IV. HERE COMES LANDON
V. LIFE WITH LANDON AS A SINGLE MOM
VII. MOVING IN TOGETHER
VIII. “I DO”
IX. IN LOVE TODAY
I. IT’S NICE TO MEET YOU
I was 20 years old and attending Ole Miss. Like most 20 year old girls in college, I had no idea who I was. I was somewhat of a free spirit that was trying to keep up with the fast paced college lifestyle. I was a different person at 20 years old. I was that girl dancing alone on the dance floor and getting down with myself at parties. I didn’t care who watched, I felt free. I felt powerful in the most out of control way. I was enjoying life without thinking about the consequences. I was enamored with poetry, art, music, and anything that spoke my love language. I had a soul full of passion and a huge heart that had a lot of love to give. I was having fun during this time in my life, but I also had this huge hole my heart. I was lost and felt alone in my thoughts most of the time. That year, I recently had an ex boyfriend take his own life…and the boy I liked at the time wasn’t treating me right. My parents were also right in the middle of a divorce. I was fragile and my bones were slowly breaking with sadness. It’s no secret that my soul felt quite dark at this moment in time. It was like my whole world was crashing down around me. I was the furthest thing from “okay” and desperately needed something good to happen in my life. Then he came into the picture. The medicine I never knew my heart needed…Clay Rossetti.
It was late in the summer of 2014 when I met Clay. I must admit, my first impression of Clay was not the best. I met him at a friends house in the front lawn at midnight. I remember it clear as day even though I was a little drunk. The house we were at was only a short walk from “The Square”, where all the bars were located in Oxford. After the bars closed, a couple of my close friends and I walked to this house. I was talking in a circle of a few people when Clay walked up. One by one, Clay introduced himself to everyone in the circle. I could already tell by his wobbly knees and slurred speech that Clay was wasted. He looked at me in a drunken stance and said something all too stupid to repeat. Regardless of the words spoken, it was the worst first impression I had ever encountered. After the introductions, he then took his wobbly knees and jumped into a car with some of his friends and headed out. In that moment, I would have been fine with never seeing Clay Rossetti ever again. He struck me as everything I didn’t want in my life. I dated my fair share of assholes in college and needed someone that wasn’t going to screw me over.
A week or so passed by and somehow we kept running into each other. One thing led to another and Clay ended up Facebook messaging me one night after the bars closed. For the record, Clay has no game. I’m still confused as to how he managed to pull me in. Somehow this booty call of a Facebook message wooed me and I went over to his house. I don’t know if it was the alcohol, or my own 20 year old stupidity that lead me over to Clay’s house that night… but i’m so glad I went.
From that night forward, we ended up spending every day together for the next year. In those few first weeks of getting to know each other, we fell fast and hard. “I love you” was spoken in just a couple short weeks and I basically was a new roommate in his house. We were so deeply and unapologetically in love. The kind of love you get lost in. Clay was nothing like the boy I had met on that lawn at midnight. He was sweet, kind, loyal and full of passion. He had his scars, like all of us do. His parents happened to be going through a divorce the same time my parents were. He lost people he loved, and so did I. We connected. We connected on such a deep level I truly believed I could see a future with him. Like any relationship, it had it’s ups and downs. We we’re young and stupid and wore our hearts on our sleeve. No relationship is perfect and I strongly believe that. Through all the ups and downs, there was always one constant…we could both see each other together down the road. Oddly enough, that thought never scared me. I think that’s the moment when you know you found someone good.
Three months into our relationship I ended up going to see an Obgyn in Oxford. I hadn’t gotten my period in almost a year at that point. I was always irregular so it didn’t worry me too much. After hours at the doctor and getting my ovaries looked at, the doctor came to a conclusion. I had Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. I had large cysts on my ovaries that could possibly become dangerous some day. This was also the reason my period hadn’t come in so long. He told me when I was ready to have babies in the future it might be very difficult for me. I cried in that office that day. I cried on the way home and I cried to Clay. Although it was so early in our relationship he was still there to comfort me while I was sad. In my mind I thought, “What if I can never have babies?”. I always knew I wanted to be a mom, and after that doctors visit I felt like that dream got ripped away from me. Well after that news, Clay and I were not super careful…I wasn’t worried about getting pregnant and kind of became numb to the thought of never being able to have children. Sure, I should have gotten another opinion and not settled with what that one doctor told me. But I didn’t. Looking back now, I’m so glad I took his diagnosis seriously… Because he’s the reason we stopped being careful, and he’s the reason we have Landon in our lives. Somehow, in a very twisted kind of thought process, I think I was supposed to meet that idiot of a doctor. Those chain of events were meant to happen just the way they had… so that one day I could give life to Landon.
II. FALLING APART
A year passed by and it was now the summer of 2015. We both spent the summer in Oxford that year. It was a slow hot few months with not much excitement. I had an 8am class in the mornings. The afternoons were most likely spent by the pool with Clay. I wasn’t feeling like myself for the past few months. It’s hard to put into words what I was feeling. I guess you could say I was in a funk. Pregnancy wasn’t even on my mind at that point. I had only had one period since seeing the gynecologist that past year. “There’s NO WAY I could be pregnant”, I thought. I had some nausea here and there but I boiled it down to being hungover. When July rolled around, I started to notice this small bloat in my lower stomach. I let a couple weeks go by and it wouldn’t go away. My heart started racing at this point and my anxiety started to get the best of me.
I’ll never forget the morning I decided to take a pregnancy test. It was 6am. I drove to Kroger down the street and bought a pack of two tests. I just wanted to ease my mind…because after all I couldn’t get pregnant, right? I drove back to Clay’s house and locked the bathroom door. Clay was still fast asleep. I peed on the stick and sat there for what seemed like 10 minutes before the results appeared. Then it appeared in the biggest and boldest letters. PREGNANT. My heart dropped…and my whole body began to shake. Everything went silent around me and all I could hear was the sound of my tears rolling down my face. I walked outside and the tears got heavier. I hate saying it now, but my first thought was abortion. That was my only option right? I was 21 years old, how could I raise a child? No way. Not a chance. Not me. Those thoughts I had still cripple me to this day and I hate myself for thinking that was my only option. I can’t believe it was ever even a thought in my mind.
I sat outside and called my mom that morning. You should know…my mom is my best friend and the person I go to for anything. She of course was the most understanding in this situation as I sobbed to her over the phone. She let me know that I was fully capable of being a mother and that she would support me no matter what decision I made. What a saint right? I feel so lucky to have a mother like her. She is the most supportive and kind soul I know. So I took a breath and I went inside and woke up Clay… that’s when the real nightmare began. He freaked out, just like any boy would at 22 years old. I don’t blame him for his feelings. We both decided on an abortion that day. I sat in Clay’s bed from morning till night. I didn’t go to class or even walk outside that room. A wave of sadness came over me. The decision of an abortion weighed heavy on my heart. I think in the back of my mind the thought never sat right with me. That night I fell asleep thinking about ending this child’s life. I felt cold knowing this wasn’t the right choice. I woke up the next morning and knew I couldn’t do it. It may seem like a quick decision but in my heart I knew this child was mine and that I wanted to be a mother.
Clay didn’t agree and I tried my best to see his point of view. Worry and anxiety filled his face. He wanted to abort the baby and would’t take no for an answer. I stood by what I wanted. We fought back and forth for what seemed like hours on end. We yelled so loud and cried together like we never had before. Clay didn’t have the family support like I did and he didn’t have friends to turn to that would understand. He felt alone and I totally understand how horrible that could have been for him. At the end of the day I could see a future with him and he could see a future with me. In my mind I pondered, “What if I abort this baby and Clay and I end up getting married one day? What if I always have to live with the guilt of aborting our first child?” I couldn’t do it… I wouldn’t do it. Maybe, just maybe, if I got Clay to see a sonogram.. then he would change his mind. Maybe he would see that this is a real child growing inside of me and that killing the baby was not an option.
I honestly don’t know how many days passed before we ended up in Memphis at Planned Parenthood. These first few days and weeks all faded into each other. The sun would rise and set but a new day never seemed to emerge. It was like the same day was repeating itself over and over without end. Our emotions were all over the place at this point and I hadn’t been able to sleep much. I laid awake at night heartbroken knowing that Clay and I didn’t want the same thing. Although we both agreed that we wanted to see a sonogram of the baby. I can’t tell you the horror I still feel about that day at Planned Parenthood. Walking in.. the air instantly sucks the life out of you. The waiting room was filled with heavy hearts and awkward silences. The staff was emotionless and it sent shivers down my spine. This wasn’t a happy place. After a big $500 fee for an abortion and a stack of paperwork later.. they finally called me back to do a sonogram to measure how far along I was. Clay began to walk behind me when they stopped him. “He can’t come in”. I begged them, “Please let him come back with me, please!.” I needed him to see the sonogram… I needed him to see our baby. That was the only reason I was there. The nurse wouldn’t budge. I ran outside as my eyes flooded once again. I locked myself in the car and sank into the seat. My heart physically felt like it could burst. I never had any intentions of getting an abortion that day… but the only way to see a sonogram was to go through the whole process. I’m still shocked they were going to make me go back into that dark disgusting hallway all by myself. They were going to preform a sonogram and then an abortion on me. They were going to make me do all of that alone without anyone by my side. I was scared and vulnerable and they treated me like a lab rat. I cried all the way back to Oxford as I looked out the window thinking, “I wanted to burn Planned Parenthood to the ground”.
A week passed by and I finally had found a place to give me a sonogram. It was a small clinic in the bible belt of Mississippi that listened to my story and wanted to help. They were the sweetest women that dealt with young girls like me who were unsure if they wanted to keep their baby. After filling out some forms and answering some questions, I finally laid down to have the sonogram. We began to hear the heart beat. “bump bump, bump bump.” There he was… my baby. His face, arms, body, legs, even his toes. He was so real and so perfect. Seeing it was all too much to handle. It was almost like an out of body experience as I watched myself come to terms with becoming a mother. I wasn’t sad or scared or worried any more. I was amazed because it was all so beautiful. I was creating a life inside me and that was pretty incredible to me. They asked me, “How far along do you think you are?” I said, “I don’t know honestly, maybe 6-9 weeks, maybe less?”. How could I be sure? After all I only had one period in the past year. As she moved the machine over my tummy… she began to look confused. She said softly, “You are much further along than that sweetie, the baby is measuring about 18-19 weeks.” My heart actually dropped to the floor. I was nearly 5 months pregnant. But how? I wasn’t even showing! My mind couldn’t process this. Clay shot out of the room as the nurses tried to console him. He had a full on panic attack. I remember crying harder as I watched Clay sprint across the highway to lay his body in a field somewhere. He was screaming and cursing at the sky as if this was a curse I put on him. As if I was the devil. While this sonogram gave me so much hope, it did the opposite with Clay.
This was the point where I felt our relationship was really over. Even though Clay had just seen our baby and heard his heart beat, he still wanted me to get an abortion. He found a place in Arkansas that would do it and wanted to drive me there.
Needless to say, I said no. Not much happened after that as he knew my mind had been made up. I remember the last kiss we had before I left on a plane to go home to Corpus Christi. That kiss felt like goodbye… and it was.
I never wanted Clay to marry me back then or even expect him to stay with me. I didn’t ask for any of that and I don’t blame him for anything that he said or did. We were so young and so unsure of life. We were both still in college and didn’t know who we were in the world just yet. I was lost and so was he. So I don’t blame him. Instead i’m grateful for how everything turned out. I’m grateful because this is our story regardless of how fucked up and awkward it may be. We wouldn’t be a family today if he hadn’t left. With that said, life is hard and finding our way is even harder.
Once I left Oxford, reality crept in when I moved into my moms house. I got an obgyn in Corpus and began to go to my pregnancy check-ups alone. I didn’t give up hope on Clay just yet. We hadn’t talked since we broke up when I left Oxford. I tried to call…no answer. I texted.. no answer. I wrote letters. Letters that I sent and some that I didn’t. No answer. A month passed and my faith in him diminished. He got a new girlfriend at this point and I realized I was totally and fully on my own. We didn’t talk the entire time I was pregnant. He didn’t reach out and I wasn’t expecting him to.
I won’t sugar coat it for you, it was hard. I woke up every day for months hoping this was all one horrible nightmare. I woke up in tears and crippling anxiety. Not to mention the horrible nausea and heartburn that never seemed to stop. I was more terrified than I had been in my entire life. I never expected my life to turn out this way. Pregnant at 21 and going into parenthood alone. I was still so in love with Clay and it took some time to push that feeling aside. I cried every day for quite a while. Weeks turned into months and somewhere along the way I stopped crying. I started to smile again. I began to look at my life and accept and embrace what was. I was going to be a mom, and that was pretty fucking awesome. It’s like a huge storm had passed and the sun started to shine again. As cheesy as that sounds, it’s true.
Since I only had 5 months left after leaving Oxford, I was quickly growing bigger each and every day. I passed my time by laying on the sand at the beach and letting my body float with the current of the waves. I walked up and down the shoreline pondering what life would be like when my son arrived. “My son…” How crazy is that? I was going to have a son. Even the sound of it just made me feel whole again. It was pretty warm year round in Corpus, so I was able to enjoy the sunshine until Landon was born in December. The walks on the beach became my therapy and my thinking space. I would pack picnics and drive out there just to sit some days. I would listen to music, write poetry and watch the waves crash over and over. As dumb as it sounds, the ocean helped me process everything; and for that i’m grateful.
I don’t think I would have been able to go through this pregnancy without my family and friends. Both my parents were so incredibly supportive from the very beginning. Landon was their grandchild after all, and they couldn’t have been more excited. They didn’t care if I was doing this alone, they believed in me and the kind of person I was. They believed in my strength and my heart. I can’t thank them enough for helping me find my way. My friends were also such rockstars and the best support system a girl could ask for. They held my hand through that tough time and I have never been so grateful to have such a tight group of girls in my life. They were my lifeline and I hope they know that.
There was one thing constantly on my mind throughout my pregnancy. That was, “Will I ever find love again? Who will love me and also love Landon?”. I had little faith that I would find someone again after becoming a mom. Whoever I dated had to be okay with not only dating me but also becoming a father figure. I understood that was a hard pill to swallow for most men. It was sometime in November when a ghost of my past popped back into my life. It was a boy. A boy I was kind of seeing at Ole Miss before meeting Clay. He reached out to me when I was pregnant just letting me know he still cared about me. It wasn’t anything big but it made me smile and gave me hope. It made me realize that there might still be someone out there for me.
IV. HERE COMES LANDON
Labor was long and it was hard. It was as painful as I expected and more emotional than I ever thought possible. It was like the past five months were all leading up to this one moment in time. “It was finally here, I was finally becoming a mom”, I thought. Clay entered my mind again the morning I went into labor, but I did my best to push the thought aside. It was around 8:30pm when Landon decided it was time to make an appearance. For the next 30 minutes I pushed. It took all the strength I had to get through that next half hour. Breath in, breath out, push hard. I remember almost passing out but I had to keep going. Then finally… there was a tiny little cry and I saw him. Landon Matthew Bass. The most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Dark hair, blue eyes, 6 pounds 9 ounces. He was… perfect. Tears quickly began to form. I don’t think I have ever felt so much love in my life than in that very moment. My mom was by my side the entire time, along with her best friend. My mom cut the umbilical cord and the nurses quickly handed Landon to me. He physically took my breath away. 10 fingers, 10 toes, two bright blue eyes… I was in heaven with how much my heart overflowed for him. In that moment, I never knew my soul could love someone that much. Never knew I was capable of that kind of love. It was like a wave of gratitude came over my entire body. I was so proud. So happy. So content. You always hear parents talk about the love they have for their kids.. but until you’re there in that moment… you just won’t understand.
I wasn’t planning on telling Clay that his son was born that night. After all, we hadn’t spoken in five months, so why should I bother?
It was around 11:30pm that night when I got a text. It was him, Clay. I guess word finally got to him that Landon was born. I didn’t read it until the next day. I’m glad I didn’t because there was no congratulations in that text. There was no apology or soft spoken kind words. There was anger and ignorance and spitefulness. I wanted nothing to do with it. I didn’t respond. Life kept on moving.
It was like I was running a marathon for the past 5 months. I was tired. I was ready to give up but I knew I had to keep running. I had to keep running for him. For Landon. Labor was like the final stretch. It was like everything I had fought for through my pregnancy was finally coming to an end. The love I lost, the pride I swallowed, the life I left behind, the boy who shattered my heart and left me bleeding. Finally, a new chapter was beginning. The best chapter of all… Life with Landon.
V. LIFE WITH LANDON AS A SINGLE MOM
It was February and Landon was about two months old at this point. My heart was spilling over with happiness and admiration. I made a perfect child despite not knowing he was there for 5 months. I felt so proud to be a woman, knowing my body protected and grew this tiny thing inside me. (Three years later… and science is still blowing my mind). Lan was the brightest light in such a dark time in my life. He was my guardian angel and the reason I was able to smile again. I’ll be honest, the first few months with Landon were a blur. I was physically and mentally exhausted most of the time. Although my parents were supportive, I was on my own when it came to taking care of Landon. As it should be. I wouldn’t expect anyone to stay up most of the night with me while Landon was awake. That was what I signed up for when I brought him into this world. He wasn’t one of those magical babies that slept 12 hours through the night as a newborn. He was awake every hour and so was I. I was changing him and breastfeeding him at all hours of the night just like any normal parent. Sometimes I cried because I wish I could share those precious moments with someone. And sometimes I cried because I was just so damn proud of myself for what I was doing. The emotions were different day to day.
Clay had texted me again when Landon was 2 months old. I didn’t respond. I wish I had though.. I wish I had let him in sooner. That way maybe he wouldn’t have missed much. He missed Landon’s first bath and the first time he held his head up on his own. He missed the small details of the morning when Landon would yawn as I rocked him back to sleep. He missed the doctors visits and Landon’s first Christmas. Most importantly, he missed the day Landon was born, and that’s something that Clay will never get back. It almost hurts letting those words trickle off my tongue….Clay missed the day his son came into this world. The way Clay acted during those 8 months we were apart is something i’ll never understand, and over time we’ve both stopped trying to make sense of it all. I wish we all had those memories together.. but i’ve come to terms with it. It will only make the birth of our next child that much more special.
My birthday was coming up soon and my friends in Oxford were dying to meet Landon. I decided to make a trip to Oxford to see my friends and introduce Landon to everyone. I hadn’t been to Oxford since leaving 8 months ago. I was still in contact with the boy who reached out to me while I was pregnant. He also lived in Oxford and we had plans to see each other. I was excited to visit but also nervous because I didn’t want to run into Clay. I hoped he wouldn’t find out I was there, but since word travels fast in a small town..Clay found out. He texted me. Through a heated conversation, I told him to stay away. To not come close to us, that his son deserved better. I was so cold and mean and I wish so badly now that I could take it all back. I’m not perfect and as much as I want to say I wasn’t angry.. there’s a small part of me that still was. He didn’t deserve my anger or me keeping him from his son.
For the short time I was in Oxford, the boy i’d been talking to stayed with me and Landon each day. We talked, we laughed and we played house for those two weeks. He held Landon like I wished he would, and looked at me the way I had been longing to be looked at for quite some time. He was good and nice and promised me the world. He was the guy I liked before Clay, so there was history there. It was like we picked things up right where we left off. One of the first nights he stayed with me I remember he said, “If Landon was my baby, If I was the one who got you pregnant a long time ago, there would be a ring on your finger.” It sent shivers down my spine. I should be happy right? There was this guy in front of me that actually cared, yet something was wrong. Those words made me want to run faster than I had ever run before. I mean, who says that to a girl you haven’t spoken to in years? Yes he was passionate, driven, and so many things I looked for in a partner… But no matter what he promised me or how good he appeared to be on paper, there was always something missing. It was almost as if he liked the idea of being with me more than actually being with me. It sounds stupid I know, but I felt like I barely knew him.. like there was this whole other side to him he didn’t show me. Being with him made me realize what I didn’t want and what I deserved. There’s one thing I knew back then, and that was that I could never love him some day the way I loved Clay. No one could measure up to that “I can’t get enough of you” kind of love I had for Clay.
It was the second week I was in Oxford that I decided I’d let Clay meet Landon. It was a lot of push and pull and fighting to get to that point. I didn’t know if I was making the right decision, but I went for it. I remember my heart was racing before Clay came to my house. My nerves were at an all time high. I was the only one home that afternoon. I wanted to do this alone. I remember him walking in the door and my heart dropped. It was like looking into the eyes of a ghost of my past life. The heartbreak shot back into my mind and all the pain I swallowed came back up. I sat there with Clay for 30 minutes. I put on a smile, told him a few things about Landon, and watched as tears sprung into Clay’s eyes. My God if you could have seen his face as he watched his son. His eyes curled and tears swelled, and I swear I have never seen such love in his eyes. My heart overflowed that day because it was in that moment that I knew Clay was going to be the best Dad regardless of how we felt about each other. Our hands met as I passed Landon to him. Our legs touched as the couch caved in slightly. It was a weird feeling… to be so close to him again. “What is he thinking?”, I wondered. We didn’t talk about the past or what had happened in the last 8 months. We didn’t talk about much at all, really. It was silent for most of that 30 minutes. It was a silence I’ll never forget.
I left Oxford a day or so later. When I left this small town, I also left behind the boy who promised me the world. Although I didn’t want to admit it back then, my heart always belonged to someone else during that time. It belonged to Clay Rossetti.
It was a couple weeks after I came home from Oxford that Clay and his mother came to visit Corpus. Clay and I had been in contact after I got home. We had texted a couple times as he asked if he could come visit Landon with his mom. I could have turned my cheek. I could have ignored him. I could have said no, but I said yes. Again, I didn’t know if I was making the right decision. But who was I to stand in the way? What if Lan ended up resenting me someday because I kept him from his dad? Would it fuck him up? Would it tear us apart? My head and my heart were at war. I didn’t know what to do. I was down on my knees begging God for answers, but I never received any. I decided that if Clay wanted to make the trip to spend time with Landon, then I would let him. After all, I honestly didn’t think he would come…but he did.
Lan and I went to the beach the morning Clay and his mom got to town. I held Landon as we walked miles down the beach and back. My mind was spinning with anxiety. The thought of Clay in town for an entire week made me sweat. We were the furthest thing from friends but I was willing to put on a smile and be kind. The day went by slow. I paced back and forth waiting for their flight to land in the late afternoon. Finally, Clay texted and said he was on his way over. I instantly regretted letting him come into my home. I wished in that moment I could take it all back. Soon enough the door opened and there he was with his mom. We smiled at each other as he walked straight to Landon. “Can I hold him?”, he asked kindly. “Of course”, I replied. I swear it was like night and day… the way Clay was that day. His words and his actions were both so genuine and honest. He wanted to help in any way possible and be present in the moment with me and Landon. He flew over four states to see him and I realized just how much he had already taken on the roll of “Dad”. It’s like Landon had flipped his world upside-down and changed him back into the guy I fell in love with. Seeing him like this instantly had me melting inside. We sat there together all week. Hanging out and not doing much of anything really. I was mom, he was dad, and we were a team for the first time in a long time. The conversation flowed. It was never hard talking to Clay. From the very beginning, we just clicked. No awkward pauses or weird silences. It was comfortable. “Don’t fall in love with him again, don’t do it…” I repeated this in my head so many times. I thought maybe if I say it enough I’ll actually believe it. But who was I kidding? There was no tricking my head when my heart had already spoken. I was falling.. falling hard.
After a few days with Clay in town, we started talking about us. Tears flowed and voices were raised. My feelings for Clay were coming back and I fell asleep each night wondering if he was thinking about me at his hotel down the road. In my heart, I knew he was. It was Clay’s last night in town when things took a turn for us. There was a tropical storm coming in that night so we ordered takeout from down the road. Clay’s mom went back to her hotel around 7 or so that night and Clay stayed behind. Landon was tired so we put him to sleep in his bassinet. For the first time in Landon’s life, both his parents were tucking him in and giving him a goodnight kiss. We were a team and it felt so right. It felt like we went back in time and rewrote history. It felt like Clay had always been there all along.
We laid down on my bed after Lan fell asleep. I swear my hands were shaking at that point. I hadn’t been this close to him for so long. There was a storm outside that we heard growing stronger by the minute. No one was home except for us. It was just me, Clay and baby Lan. Clay was looking at me like he used to look at me. Like I was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen. He was looking at me like he loved me…but I couldn’t be sure. He looked past the shallows of my eyes and into my soul. I remember asking him, “If you could take it all back, would you?”. He said, “I would take all of it back if I could, every last horrible detail. I’d take it back.” I started to cry. How could I believe him? After all this time, how could I believe he was good? He promised me he wasn’t the same. He promised me he had changed since meeting Landon. Then he promised to fight for me..to truly fight for me every day. “Do you still love me, Clay?” I asked as tears flowed like rivers down my face. He looked through my eyes and into my heart and said, “ I never stopped loving you Tina.” I swear my heart stopped beating and I realized words were useless at this point. Our bodies came closer and our lips locked together. From the top of my head to the tip of my toes…my whole body felt that kiss. It sent shockwaves through my veins. Then I felt my heart give in and become weak for him. There was no noise except for the wind relentlessly howling outside my windows. I could feel our souls melting and becoming one as we fell into each other. It was like everything that had happened before that moment all came crashing down. Everything that happened before that kiss didn’t matter. The door to my balcony ripped open suddenly and the storm pushed its way inside. The metaphor could not be more fitting for that moment. The kiss, much like the storm, was so powerful it broke down walls I thought were indestructible. The wind physically broke the lock open on that door while clay broke his way into my heart. He shattered the walls I built and told me exactly what I didn’t know I needed to hear. Although I didn’t want to admit it back then, I knew I had never stopped loving him either. He was my soulmate, my best friend, and the deepest love of my life.
He left that night carrying my heart in his pocket. He went back to his hotel after we kissed and left back to Oxford early the next morning. I knew that night that I would forever be his and no one else’s.
Two weeks later, I moved to Oxford to begin our lives together. To begin a life as a family.
VII. MOVING IN TOGETHER
I’d be lying if I said it was easy to forgive him. It was incredibly hard adjusting to a life with the man who broke me and bruised me the hardest. I went back and forth in the first couple weeks wondering why I was putting my heart on the line again. But it’s true what they say…love is a sweet addictive poison you can’t deny. Your heart wants what it wants and there’s no convincing yourself otherwise. My heart wanted Clay and Clay’s heart wanted me. After everything that happened, I found myself in an overwhelmingly beautiful place inside my mind. I finally realized, if we were going to make it work then we had to put it all behind us. I couldn’t keep bringing up old scars. I couldn’t rehash the same argument for the rest of our lives. If we really wanted to be together for the rest of forever, then I had to forgive and let go of the heartbreak. SO I DID. I let go and I drank that sweet addictive poison of love. I drank the whole cup and didn’t leave a drop behind. Our love is something that I still struggle to put into words, because I don’t think words can fully describe the immense and overwhelming feeling I have for him. He’s my person and I was finally done denying it. For the first time in a long time my body felt at peace and I was ready to scream it to the world. I LOVE CLAY ROSSETTI.
For that whole next year and a half, we lived together in a small condo off the square in Oxford. Clay had a few more semesters of school he needed to finish so we were stuck in Mississippi for the time being. That whole next year was filled with so much joy. My happily ever after was now my reality. I was able to watch Clay grow up and transform into the most respectable man and father figure. He carried Landon wherever we went and held him close if he cried. We laughed, we cried, and we didn’t look back at the past. Clay put his whole heart into being a Dad to Landon and a boyfriend to me. He was genuine and kind and slowly made things right again. We essentially got to see each other grow up together. As Landon grew up, so did we.
Clay is the type of man that does things just because he knows how happy it will make me. He chooses to do the work and puts in the time to let us know just how much he loves us. He would do the dishes without me asking, give Landon a bath, feed him in the middle of the night, bring me flowers, drive to get me Starbucks when i’m whiny, run errands when i’m too tired or too lazy to do so. He would do it all without complaining. He’s been our superman since the day he came back into our lives and I’m so lucky to call him mine.
Some my most treasured memories were in that condo in Oxford. So much happens in a babies first year of life. Although Clay missed the beginning, he made sure not to miss anything else. The first steps, the first crawl, the first word… I can remember having a permanent smile on my face that year. To be able to experience those “firsts” with the love of my life was something I always dreamt of. We were both figuring things out and continuing to learn about each other with every step. There was one thing that was always evident in those 18 months in Oxford, and that was that someday we were going to get married.
VIII. “I DO”
There’s really not much else to say except we did it. We found love after a hard time. We found our way back to each other and he got down on one knee on the top of a gorgeous mountain top. The wind was howling that day as tears popped into my eyes and Clay said those four words every girl wants to hear. “Will you marry me?” My body shook with happiness as we kissed and toasted to our future with two cold Dos Equis. The view was one of kind and the only noise heard was the sound of the wind wishing us congratulations. I swear it was like we were in a movie up there on that mountain all alone. There was a guitar strumming in my head as I saw a 360 degree view shot of us embracing in that “Yes I’ll marry you!” moment. It was an out of body experience. It was the best day. It was finally the beginning to the rest of forever as a family. After years of dating and one baby later… it was about damn time!
That year of being engaged…we moved in with Clay’s mother. His mom, Helen, is such a saint and has done so much for Landon and I throughout the years. She took me into her home and treated me like her own daughter. I’m so grateful and so blessed to have such a caring and generous mother in law. She gives us so much love and never expects anything in return. She is truly such an incredible woman.
I’m not going to lie to you and say that year or any year with Clay has been perfect. We had some super high highs and some super low lows. Relationships are hard and they only get harder when you throw a child into the mix. We fight and disagree and sometimes we drive each other insane. But there’s nothing that could break us. I think going through what we did and falling apart so dramatically…then somehow finding it in our hearts to love again and restart our relationship… I think that has been the ultimate test of our relationship and how strong our bond is. We have something so powerful between the two of us. Sometimes I think it’s too good to be true. So regardless if we fight or disagree, our love is still there at the end of the day. Love is what holds us together when shit hits the wall. Love is our constant in a very unpredictable life.
Landon and I are so lucky to have a man in our lives that isn’t afraid to own up to his mistakes. He’s not ashamed to say he fucked up. When it comes down to it, there’s nothing more admirable to me that someone who can stand up and admit fault then turn around to make things right again. He did just that. I admire him so much for so many different reasons and this is only just one. To put it simply, he showed up. He showed up in the best way possible and put us first for the rest of his life.
So somewhere along the first couple months of our engagement, we decided to wanted to get married with the sound of waves in the background. We wanted to dip our feet into the pacific ocean and party all weekend in our swimsuits and bare feet. We wanted to see the palm trees blow with the breeze and take shots of tequila in celebration. So we flew down to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico for the week with 60 of our closest friends and family and said “I do” with the sun shining above us. It was one of the best fucking weeks of my life. I was a wreck on my wedding day and cried from the moment I woke up. I cried while I laughed and I cried while I smiled. I cried because I was nervous and I cried because I was happy. The day was pure chaos… but somewhere underneath the pile of anxiety and nerves… there was this clear as day moment that I still get chills about. That moment was when I finally had my dress on and all my bridesmaids surrounding me. My wedding planner knocked on the door to let us know it was time to head to the ceremony. I tipped back a glass of champagne and a wave of calmness came over my body. We walked together, the 8 of us, all dolled up with Landon in tow. My nerves were gone and all I could feel was this jolt of energy and complete awareness that I was about to marry the love of my life. I could see him standing there in my mind.. at the end of the isle waiting for me. All I could think about is how lucky I got with him. He takes care of me. He looks at me as if I carry the moon and all the stars above. He makes me laugh and he makes me feel beautiful even if I haven’t washed my hair in 5 days. He tells me day in and day out how talented I am. How lucky Landon is to have a mother like me. How much he loves me “more”.
…I think that’s what you need to look for in a partner, someone who respects the hell out of you. Who is on your team no matter what. That person should be your best friend and know you better than you know yourself. Someone who would take a bullet for you. That’s who you need to marry. That’s who you need to say forever to. Luckily, I found that person…his name is Clay Rossetti.
Although the past was dark, I wouldn’t change a damn thing. We both needed that time apart. Before Landon, I was lost and had no respect for the woman I was. I needed that time alone to find love for myself. I needed that time to find strength and realize who I was in this world. Through it all, I found that love and that deep respect some people search lifetime for. I love myself — and that feels so uplifting to be able to say after years of the opposite feeling. While I needed those months alone to look within, Clay needed that time to realize what he didn’t want in his life and what kind of man he needed to be. Through avoiding the present, he found what he wanted to be in the future. Those months apart changed him into the man he is today. I don’t know if things would be the same today if we hadn’t broken up. I would always be questioning our love and relationship. Maybe we would be together…maybe we wouldn’t? I’ll never know. Because we parted ways and came back together, I think that speaks volumes. I think finding our way back to each other through the darkness signifies how real our bond is. For eight months, Clay fucked up. He dug himself a grave and he laid in it. But for almost three years now, Clay has been the most incredible Dad and husband to Landon and I. I have seen him grow into the most respectable man in the past few years. I have seen him climb mountains and defeat devils inside his soul. I have witnessed his love for his family and his devotion to provide for us. So don’t judge him because he made a mistake years ago. Because making mistakes just means he’s human…just like the rest of us. At the end of the day, we’re all just walking through life hoping we don’t fuck up too bad, right? It’s important to always remember that you’re mistakes do not define you, what defines you is what you do to make up for those mistakes. What defines you is what kind of person you are after those mistakes are made. I’m not saying I’m perfect in this relationship either. I’m quick to anger at times and not as kind as I know I should be. But thats OK. Clay and I are both constantly working on ourselves and trying to be better at this whole “love thing”. It’s hard and it gets twisted at times, but it’s real and it’s worth working at.
Looking back and writing down our every step and every feeling… It’s only more evident that the past does not matter. I loved him then, I love him now, and I’ll love him forever. I don’t care if my bones once shattered at the sound of his name. I don’t care if he made me bleed. I fucking love that man with all I have in my soul. You know what…life is hard. It’s not some fairytale happily every after. Bad shit will happen. People make mistakes and they hurt you in the process. Your days of heartbreak might be unbearably cold at some points in time. So cold that your heart will shiver with sadness. Keep going because things will get better. So after it all, I don’t look back in anger – I look back in gratitude. I have a man in front of me that loves me more than I ever thought I could be loved. He put a roof over our heads and food on our table. I have a son who is happy, healthy and full of life…and has two parents who love him endlessly. And I think that’s pretty fucking cool.
So here’s my message to you — Your world might be falling to your feet for months, maybe years. You might ask yourself, “why me?”. Don’t lose yourself in a bad day or a bad year. If you keep going and keep thinking positive, things will get better. I swear to you, they get better. I’m living fucking proof. Find your voice, know your worth and discover an outlet to express what you’re feeling. Don’t give a fuck about what “they” think. Don’t waste your time thinking about all the bullshit that won’t matter tomorrow. Live in the moment, say “fuck off” to the assholes who ignorantly judge you, and follow your heart. Most importantly, keep moving. Keep finding light in the darkness. Read cheesy uplifting quotes to brighten your day. Do things that tear you away from the all the bad stuff. Don’t give up.
…And if that man who broke you comes back to you on his knees. Begging for your heart to be his once again. If you feel it is right…then forgive. Let your anger leave with the wind and let him back in. But only if he means it and only if he deserves your heart. Only if he’s a man like the one I lovingly call MINE.