picture circa 2006
My Freshman year of college involved a lot of Nathan traveling to visit me on the weekends (I didn’t have a car on campus that year.) I pretty much lived for the weekends. If anyone has been in a long distance relationship you probably know that the phone sucks. We would fight over the stupidest stuff on the phone (ok, we still do that a bit off the phone but it was outta control!) We talked on the phone every night but most of the time it was just awful until we were together in person.
The first day of May, 2006 I woke up to a rare thing. I was getting an early morning phone call from Nathan. I figured he was calling by accident and ignored it until he called right back. I was still half asleep when I heard his voice and the first thought that popped into my head was that he was playing an April fools joke on me. I immediately woke up, realizing it was May and my boyfriend was crying on the phone saying his dad had died the previous night. I couldn’t believe that the man I had hugged for the first time in the two years I had known him, just the day before, was gone.
After getting off the phone with Nathan, who was driving home to Illinois, I waited for my own dad to come pick me up so I could join the Roe’s (my second family.) I remember walking into this house that was always so full of joy and laughter and briefly hugging Nathan before pushing my way to his mom and Erin where I lost it. It wasn’t fair. This man who was a friend to everyone who had taken care of so many of us was gone.
That week was especially hard. I didn’t know how to be a good friend or girlfriend because I had never experienced a loss like that. What do you say to your best friend and your boyfriend when they lose the most important man in their life?
Nathan and I had only been dating for a little over a year at that point but after that week it felt like an eternity. I know I don’t have a clue about the amount of pain he or the rest of his family were in but I do know that it felt like someone had punched us all right in the heart together. That hurt, the small amount I carried in comparison to their hurt tied us all together in a way that I knew right then and there that we were a forever family.
The next year was hard. I was with Nathan and his proud family when he graduated from college…something that his dad should have and would have loved to have been at. Watching Nathan be there and help take care of his family during this time made me realize, even more, how great of a husband/father he was going to someday make.
Over the next few years we grew a lot closer. We went to Florida with his family, looked into buying a house for him with the idea I would be moving over in the future, took a Spring Break in Canada to see The Phantom of the Opera, celebrated many birthdays with friends and family, had our one and only break-up for a day, went to Chicago with my family to see The Phantom of the Opera (I might be a little addicted), went to Atlanta, GA with his family and much more.
Clearly things were serious. We talked openly about our future. Things like marriage, buying a house, and having kids all came up in conversations. In 2008, the year before I graduated, I laid it all out for him. I told him I needed at least a year to plan a wedding, I wasn’t moving to Indiana until we were married, and that once I got a teaching job I would be there for the year. I was that girl. We had been dating for about three years at that point and I was anxious to know when we would get engaged. So anxious that while on a trip to Cancun, Mexico with his company I may or may not have searched his bag for a ring that wasn’t there.
Stay tuned for the engagement story….