In August of 2013 I was in the middle of a divorce and my attorney at the time was Dorothy Gillespie. She was/is amazing and I felt that I had been led to her and knew that she was the right person to represent me. I also had told my mom and Dayna on multiple occasions that when this entire process was complete, that I felt that Dorothy and I would be great friends. We just clicked.
Anyway, one morning while at work in August 2013, I was notified that Dorothy had unexpectedly passed away while hiking with her husband in southern Utah. I was devastated and my heart ached for her family. In the weeks that following I bought a sympathy card to send and had the thought that I needed to write a letter to the family and share an experience Dorothy and I had had prior to a hearing just a few weeks eariler. One evening I was home alone and decided that I needed to get this letter complete, so I said a prayer that somehow the words would come and in the minutes that followed, this is what poured out of my heart:
August 30, 2013
Dear Gillespie Family,
You do not know who I am, but I wanted to take some time to let you know how much I appreciated your wife and what am impact she had on my life. She was my attorney for a divorce that I have been going through (and am continuing to try to finalize with Shirl LeBaron since Dorothy’s passing) and I have no doubt that I was led to her as she was truly an angel to me.
Last March, while searching for an attorney, my sister saw her name on a list of attorneys with the Utah State Bar and asked me to look at her profile. I did, and as soon as I read about her I knew she was who was supposed to represent me. I got in touch with her and thankfully, she accepted my case. During the past few months I came to know her better and learned to admire and love her.
I wanted to share with you a special experience I had with her that touched me deeply and one that I will never forget. Last July we attended a hearing to try to get some temporary orders in place. Specifically, we were asking for physical custody of my 14 year old daughter. Before the hearing we stepped into a small room off the courtroom to discuss a few items. While in this room I felt impressed to ask Dorothy if we could have a prayer. I knew it was not orthodox, but also felt that I needed all the help I could get. She agreed, and I offered the prayer and both of us cried while I plead with our Heavenly Father that this hearing would work out so that my daughter’s needs could be met. I will never forget that moment and the love and support that I felt from her. She was simply amazing and the spirit in that room was extremely strong and powerful. Thankfully, the hearing turned out as we had hoped and looking back I know that that prayer was a large reason why. Although I spoke, emailed and texted Dorothy many times throughout the following weeks, that was the last time I saw her in person.
Having known her for just a few short months and knowing how she impacted my life, it makes it even harder for me to comprehend the loss you must be feeling. My prayers are with you and your family and I pray that somehow you will find comfort in knowing that she provided me with a large amount of peace during a very difficult time. I miss her but will always remember her as someone who touched my life in a very powerful, positive way and I will also always hold that experience in that small room as an impressive reminder of her goodness and love.
I sealed the letter, addressed it, placed a stamp on it and sent it on it's way-- never to think of it again. At least that is what I initially thought.
Time went on and last April as I was going on in my life, John (Dorothy's widowed husband) was having a rather difficult day. At the end of that particular day he was feeling quite depressed and went to bed feeling very down. He woke in the middle of the night and began to "talk" to his wife, Dorothy. During the "conversation" Dorothy told him that he needed to look up Dawna. He got onto Dorothy's laptop the next day and found my contact information. The only thing that really stood out to him was that I worked at MissionaryMall. He tucked the information away and didn't really think about it again.
Anyway, more time passed and we both were just going on with our lives, neither one of us having any desire to remarry as we had plans of our own that included our children and did not include marriage to anyone for many, many years. In mid-July John ended up visiting his sister in law and her husband who were serving in the Rochester New York mission, which includes Palmyra and upon returning home went to work on a sprinkler head at the 4-plex. He decided that he needed a part and began to drive to south Orem to BJ Plumbing. While driving he heard a voice say that he needed to stop at MissionaryMall. He immediately knew what that prompting was about, and said "No...I am going to BJ Plumbing." Once again he heard the voice and then decided that he would go to BJ Plumbing and then to MissionaryMall. He finished his errand and turned his car to head home when again, the voice came saying "You said you were going to MissionaryMall!". He repented, turned his car into the correct direction, and then drove to MissionaryMall.
Now keep in mind that we had never met. The only thing he knew about me was that I had sent the letter and where I worked. He was dressed in work clothes and has since said that he felt very conscious of his attire. Rather funny, because I did not even notice. Anyway, he came into the store and asked one of the salesman if Dawna Williamson worked there. He said yes and then John asked if he could speak to me. The young man back peddled a bit, trying to protect me, stating that he did not know if I was there and that he needed to go check. Lucas (the salesman) came back to my desk and told me that a "John Gillespie" was here to see me. It took me a minute to register who "John Gillespie" was, but I soon remembered that was the name of Dorothy's widowed husband. I was excited to meet someone who knew Dorothy and quickly found him out on the salesfloor. He was quite nice and we talked a bit (I honestly do not even remember much of the conversation -just that he was extremely tall and I was extremely short) but it ended with John asking if he could take me to lunch. I told him I would like that and then he left - without my contact information.
A few days passed and out of the blue I received an email from him asking if this was a valid email address for Dawna Williamson. I replied that yes, it was, and provided my phone number, which was a good thing because the phone number Dorothy had listed was not in use anymore. Evidentally, John had sent a text message to that old phone and never received a reply. Good thing he is tenacious :) We set up a date for July 24th to have lunch. The day arrived and we had our lunch. John felt that things had gone well and I did not. I felt that things were just a bit "off" and was not interested in having another date. Thankfully, once again, John did not give up. He emailed and texted me in the days that followed and finally convinced me to meet him one more time in person. I decided that I could do that - so we set up a date for the following Wednesday evening at the park across from the Alpine Tabernacle. Wednesday evening came and I had every intention to say goodbye, but something shifted as he spoke. As I sat across from him just listening to what he was saying, I felt myself being pulled in.
Some background: A few weeks prior to meeting John, I had had a conversation with my mom and she had asked me what would be my number one quality that I would look for in a possible future husband. After some thought I had said "He would need to have a close, personal relationship with the Savior". Well, as I sat there I began to see that was indeed to case with John. I could see that he had a lot of spiritual depth and that really intrigued me. He then asked if I would be willing to go for a drive. I sat there and thought for a minute and then agreed. He took me to his 4-plex and showed me some of the concrete work he had been working on. He also took me into the back yard and showed me his garden, part of which consisted of apple trees. I could clearly see that the trees had been tended too and that they were pruned and had the beginnings of producing good fruit, and that impressed me. He then asked if we could go one more place. I agreed and within a few minutes found myself sitting in front of his home.
The feeling I had while looking at the front of that home is something that is hard for me to explain. The closest words that I can think of are peaceful and reverent. It was quite an emotional view as I sat in his truck and I wasn't sure how to react to what I was feeling. John then lead me to the back yard and then I really knew I was in trouble. I felt as if I was entering hallowed ground and in the corner of the yard was a small chicken coop (complete with chickens!). Crazy as that sounds, those chickens brought tears to my eyes. Thankfully, it was getting dark at this point so John had no idea how those animals affected me. I still do not really understand why the chickens pulled at my heart so much, but nevertheless, they did. As I was in that back yard I felt like I was "home", everything had changed and I knew I needed to give John another chance.
I still do not know why I had the feelings I did on our initial date, but I do know that John and I have been led to each other. Too many miracles have transpired for either of us to deny that Heavenly Father (and Dorothy) has had a hand in our coming together. And while neither of us had any intention of re-marrying for at least a few years, we have fallen in love and have been sufficiently humbled to the point that we were married on September 18, 2014.
John tells me all the time that all of this is "my fault" and I guess there really is some truth to that. If I had not felt impressed to send that letter over a year ago, none of this would ever have happened. I am so grateful that I listened and obeyed and that he in turn listened and obeyed while driving to BJ Plumbing. It really is true that by "...small and simple things, great things come to pass..."