I see the little red square next to messages start to blink and I feel a little twinge of guilt – seeing how I know I’m not actually supposed to be there. I was on Matchmaker.com and 15 years old. I’m either lucky I was never approached by any to catch a predator types or, back when these things first popped into our Dial-Up AOL world, the perverts hadn’t realized what they’ve been graced with.
This is not about whether or not I should have been there – or what could have happened. This is a love story – it’s about what did happen.
Close to 15 years ago, I met my husband. He sent me that message and certainly shouldn’t have been on there either. I don’t recall what the message said but it was probably something really heartfelt like, “your hott, wanna chat?” (Yes, I know it’s properly, ‘you’re’ – I’m being a 15-year-old boy).
For almost 2 years, we chatted. We chatted online, we chatted on the phone and even wrote real letters. Countless nights we fell asleep with the phone hot to our ear. Countless nights our parents yelled at us to “GET OFF THAT PHONE!” and “YOU BETTER NOT BE ON THAT COMPUTER!”
Now remember, this is a time before most people had unlimited long distance phone plans; unfortunately for my now in-laws that never stopped him from calling me. He took a few punishments for those astronomical phone bills and he told me about them when he called me the next day.
He told me loved me before we met. Before we ever spoke face to face, before we ever hugged or kissed, before he was able to look directly in my eyes – he loved me.
We officially met at a Kwik Trip in his hometown where there are (fake) waterfalls next to the lines of gas pumps. What more could a 16 year old girl wish for?
For the record, it was a 5 hour drive and I don’t remember telling my parents where I was headed when I walked out the door that day as a newly licensed driver. Looking back, I realize the extreme stupidity of that but…no harm, no fowl, right?
I sat on a ridged rock across from the falls and waited for him to pull in. I’m thankful for a strong young heart – had it been through any previous turmoil, I’m pretty confident it would have exploded and he would have found a lifeless girl slumped over that rock. Thankfully, I survived the seemingly long wait. He hugged me and I remember taking note – best hug ever. Not only because of the obvious but Brandin is actually a really good hugger… even my mother has brought up his impeccable hugging abilities.
Our uncommon love story is not without a few heartbreaks. The next few years there was a lot of on and off-ness. The off-ness was always my own doing. Whether it was me ending it, or me taking him for granted – it was always me. I broke his heart more times than I care to share; I wish I could spare him the heartbreak I caused. If I believed in us as much as he did – this story would be very different.
He had no problem telling me how he felt, what he wanted, how long he was willing to wait it out and that he knew I was the one for him. I repaid him by cheating on him, lying to him, ignoring his calls and sending him away when he surprised me at my doorstep. Worst of all, I had all my friends convinced he was some crazy dude who lived 5 hours away & wouldn’t stop calling.
“He’s like obsessed with me!”
Yeah…It’s okay. You can think it. I was a bitch – but he continued to love me anyway.
Eventually, he gave up.
I never stopped letting him know he was on my mind. I tried calling him about once a month – for 3 years. He never answered, I rarely left a message, and not ever was a call returned – for 3 years. In the meantime, he had found himself a lady and I had dabbled in the dating scene, eventually starting a relationship with my son’s biological father. I was positive that my chance had passed but I never stopped thinking about what could have been if I wasn’t so rotten.
Life went on and the world continued spinning.
A normal snowy evening sometime around Thanksgiving, I was on my way to pick my son up from daycare and my phone rang. The number flashing across my phone was not familiar to me, but I did recognize the area code.
It can’t be…
Him: Don’t act like you’re not giddy to hear my voice…
That sarcastic little statement was all I needed and I knew exactly who it was. He didn’t forget about me. Our fate was sealed after that short phone conversation.
I ran into my son’s daycare quite giddy, indeed. I was spitting words out of my mouth a million words per minute as I attempted to fill in my son’s daycare provider, who had since become a friend, what had just happened and what it meant. Looking back, I wouldn’t be surprised if after I left, she stood there and wondered what the hell just happened.
The very next weekend he drove out to visit. The wait, while he drove was gut wrenching. Name an emotion and I guarantee I felt it flow through me.
Oh my God, he’s here…
I watch him step out of the car and he starts walking towards me when I see a smirk spread across his face. As he approached I squeaked out a sheepish “Hi…” and he instantly plants a small peck of a kiss right on my lips. A tiny, adorable, perfect peck that if it had words attached would have said, “Honey, I’m home”.
The weekend was full rainbows and sunshine. (Cheeeeesy – I know). I felt a sort of authentic happiness that I’d been searching for and it was effortless. Brandin did mention one slight issue before he left. He told me he was still in love with me and he knew it the moment he saw me.
A bit shy of two months later, I moved five hours away.
I am now married to my best friend; cliché to say – but it’s spot-on. We have had our ups, downs, and in-betweens, and with everything we have been though – there is never a doubt in my head that we won’t or can’t get through it anything.
That my friends is what marriage and love are all about, and for that I am thankful.
I remember asking him before I moved what his thoughts were regarding a pretty special little package I was toting with me – he was 2. The words he spoke after asking him, I’ll never forget. “I’ll take care of him, just like I will take care of you.” And, he has. When we got back from our honeymoon, there was one piece of our love story that needed to be completed.
This past summer, close to 5 years after he said those words to me – he legally adopted Bennett. That was a long process in the making in a lot of different ways. It was not desirable, filled with paperwork, court dates, attorneys, money, time, stress, and tears…but as unglamorous as the progression was, I would do it all again without a single hesitation. Before the adoption was even discussed, Brandin was my hero for taking on the fatherly obligations (without a single complaint) since day one. He was our missing puzzle piece.
Everything happens for a reason. Had things not fallen so out of place way back then – we would not be where we are now.
“It was a million tiny little things that, when you added them all up, they meant we were supposed to be together… and I knew it.”
– Tom Hanks, Sleepless In Seattle