I thought I would be alone this Valentine’s. And the truth is, I panicked. I was a 44-year-old woman, with two special needs kids, living in the middle of central Pennsylvania – without a partner or my family, but always surrounded by friends.

I would be lying if I said I never panicked. I would be lying if I said I thought it would be easy. That’s what I told everyone. I didn’t want them to panic too. I think I thought if I just forged ahead, no looking back, fierce and unafraid, the stars would align and all things would be OK in the world. I am confident – but always realistic.

I got lucky.

Someone stepped up and accepted the challenge.

This is a ‘thank you from the very bottom of my heart’ message to all the people out there unafraid, well – undaunted, by the challenges that come with dating someone faced with additional challenges like mine.

My friends are, hands down, the most supportive group of people on the planet. But they can’t be here at 7AM when a 75lb child needs to be carried down the stairs to catch the bus.

They can’t be here to bring the car around, warm it up and take my eldest son to school until there is a formal custody agreement in place.

Not everyone would think to record the local radio station’s ‘Stupid Criminal of the Day’ on their cellphone because my son was running a few minutes behind and hates to miss it on his way to school.

They can’t be expected to hold my 10-year-old son’s legs back when I have to change his diaper and actually get poop on their hands – without gagging!

They can’t be expected to help me take them out to dinner. Find a manageable booth, while lugging around the most cumbersome of ‘safety chairs’, transferring his adorable but lanky body, and then plopping down next to him without an ounce of noticeable ‘exasperation’.

They can’t be expected to take them trick-o-treating in a town where easily maneuvered sidewalks are often ‘an option’, pushing a wheelchair mindfully over every awkward speed bump and obstacle.

Not everyone can be there to watch them when a paying (and much needed) photoshoot comes up unexpectedly.

Not everyone would happily volunteer to drive my kid’s back pack BACK to school when it was left in the backseat of his car after gladly shoveling the walk so that a wheelchair can make it to my front door and then chop wood incessantly while we wait for the new furnace to be installed, so that we have acceptable heat when the boys get home.

Not everyone could hug the crap out of me while I sob like a baby every damn time my boys leave my custody and then deal with the sometimes debilitating depression that follows…

Not everyone.

But he will.

I am lucky.