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Life’s Magical Adventure: Aurora Wife of Convicted Ponzi Schemer Shares Her Story, Part III

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Editor’s note: Almost two years ago, Denver was caught up in a scandal when it was revealed Shawn Merriman was involved in a $20 million Ponzi scheme. There were many victims but no one was more blindsided by his betrayal than his own wife and four children. In our three-part series, Shawn’s now-ex-wife Andrea shares how she learned the horrible truth, the day the Feds came to confiscate everything and where she is today.

“Adventure: the pursuit of life.” (Daniel Roy Wiarda)

I still can’t imagine what life in prison is like (Shawn Merriman was sentenced to 12 1/2 years). I imagine there is a lot of down time, time to think, and sometimes my children get letters filled with the musings of a lonely man with time on his hands for thinking deep thoughts. Most recently, it was regarding one of my ex-husband’s favorite memories. At the time, he was very angry with me because of it, so it was gratifying he has finally seen it for what it was. Here’s what happened.

Years ago my family went to Disneyworld. We paid an extra fee to stay in the park until midnight. However, that night it rained. A lot. For some reason, not many people wanted a wet adventure in the twilight hours. The park started emptying.

My former husband was one of those who wanted to give up on the magic. But I didn’t. I told him we could make memories in the rain as easily as fair weather, so I thought we should stay. So we stayed, although my children’s dad was mad at me and my unwillingness to leave the park for a good part of the evening.

What a night! Water poured from the sky, and ran, like small rivers, down the streets of the Magic Kingdom. It was so wet, paint from the rides dyed my clothing and our shoes squished when we walked. Our hair was plastered to our heads making us look more like drowned rats than the Colorado residents we were. We even got stuck on one ride when it broke down, on our backs facing the ceiling, with rain and water pouring on us…for almost 40 minutes!

We had so many wild and unexpected adventures that, after an hour or two, even my ex-husband had to let go of his animosity and laugh at all of the crazy fun we were having. We rode ride after ride as often as we wanted without ever having to leave our seats, we laughed, we suffered (a little) and made the best memories–my children still talk about that night.

As we left when the park closed, we noticed even the Disney characters had given up and were nowhere to be seen. We were told there were less than 70 people in the entire Magic Kingdom that night! But we proved you can have fun, a magical adventure, in the dark, in the cold, despite suffering and even when you’re (mostly) alone.

It was a lesson that would serve our family well.

Because eventually, I ended up single after 20 years of a happy marriage. Rebuilding my life after such devastation and total loss–finding a job, moving to a new city alone, raising my children by myself, dealing with daycare and bills and auto repairs and toilets and garbage disposals, re-entering the singles scene and everything else I’ve gone through–is something akin to being trapped on my back, with a flood of water conspiring against me, for a seemingly endless amount of time. It, too, has been an adventure.

But that’s ok, because the unexpected life is replete with adventure. You just have to see the adventures for what they are, opportunities, and make the most of them.

And if we endure, if we’re the last man standing in the Magic Kingdom at midnight, I guarantee we’ll see our unexpected life for what it is: an adventure. We’ll see the good that came of it.

Like every Disney story, there WILL be a happily ever after. You just have to get through the rain, sometimes, to see it.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” (Helen Keller)

Almost two years after her unexpected life began, Andrea is living in Utah, works in public relations and is engaged to a wonderful man. Be sure to tune into her adventures and reflections at her blog, The Unexpected Life.

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  • comment avatar Amber Johnson November 11, 2010

    Wow, what an adventure and I love your glass half-full attitude. That Disneyland experience could have been a total wash but like so many things in life, because of your attitude it’s one of your favorite memories. Indeed that will serve you well in your unexpected life!

  • comment avatar Chancy November 11, 2010

    I remember the day he was convicted and all the nasty victims. Of course, they just lost their life savings but there was no reason for some of the things they were saying.

    This Disneyland story? I love it. How wonderful you’ve come out on the other side.

  • Pingback:A Life Reposessed By the Feds: Aurora Wife of Convicted Ponzi Schemer Shares Her Story, Part II | Denver Mile High Mamas

  • comment avatar Suzanne (Crunchy green Mom) November 11, 2010

    What an amazing story to survive and then relive on paper! You are strong and a beautiful inspiration to us all!

    Thank you for sharing this with us!

  • comment avatar Lara Jane November 11, 2010

    I am off to check out your blog. Excellent writing and perspective. Thanks for sharing your story.

  • comment avatar NuggetsMom31 November 11, 2010

    wow! I read all three days and it was intense! Thanks for sharing, I’m glad she has a happy ending! 🙂

  • comment avatar Lori Lavender Luz November 11, 2010

    That rainy night at Disney seems like the perfect metaphor.

    The sun does shine and dry us off. If only we can be patient and endure (even enjoy?) the soppiness. Kudos to you for doing so and for leading your family through the dark and into the light.

  • comment avatar Angie November 11, 2010

    Thank you for sharing your inspiring story. I stayed up way too late last night reading (from the beginning) your blog and am uber-impressed with your postive attitude. You’ve taken a horrific tragedy and led your children through it in such a dignified manner. Kudos to you, and to Amber for linking this on Facebook so I, an out-of-stater, could find it.

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