For months, we exchanged emails sharing what we’d each been up to for the past two-plus decades. I hadn't been feeling well, and as I became progressively more sick, he and I became closer and closer. We chatted online, staying up way too late many nights because neither of us wanted to sign off and say good-bye. I had recently gone through a bad break up and James was very supportive and non-judgmental, even when I made ridiculous statements such as, "I will never love again."
Despite professing to the contrary, I made a list of all the qualities a potential future boyfriend must possess. When I read him the list, including such attributes as, "Must make me laugh", "Must be honest", "Must have Celiac, like me", and "Must live nearby", he good-naturedly suggested that no one is perfect and I may have to give a little leeway here or there.
That summer, I became very ill and was put on medical disability and bed-rest. James continued to check in on me daily, and our online chats turned into phone conversations because I was too weak to sit at the computer.
In August of 2010, at the height of my illness (I was diagnosed with Chronic Kidney Disease, hypertension, and thyroid disease) when I was frighteningly skinny and weak, and eight months after we had reconnected, he drove 3 hours from his home in a neighboring state to visit me.
My friend Leslie told me to wear my hair down for our “date”, but I insisted it wasn’t a “date”; besides, it was hot out, so I put my hair up.
We spent the day watching movies, me lying down, my legs over his lap. We never ran out of things to say. I felt extremely comfortable being near him, but I didn’t think I felt a love connection, which greatly disappointed me. I'd become so fond of him and he'd become a wonderful friend, with a soul like no one I had met before. I could tell he really liked me, but he was a perfect gentleman who made it clear that he was happy just to have reconnected with his old friend.
About 7 pm I unpinned my hair – one of my medications makes my scalp ache and I needed a bit of relief. As my very long hair came down, he smiled and said, “Look at your hair!” (Thanks, Leslie!) and in that moment something hit me, (perhaps Cupid’s Arrow, or hormones) and I kissed him. I'm not sure who was more surprised at my behavior, but he certainly didn't protest.
One thing led to another...yada yada yada…and we’ve been inseparable since. I'm convinced that his love and support literally helped saved my life and continues to help me negotiate my new "normal" with positivity and strength. We recently celebrated our one-year anniversary and plan to marry. I asked him when he knew for sure that he wanted to marry me and he replied, “25 years ago”. It may have taken me a bit longer to figure it out, and he doesn't have Celiac, but oh how wonderful to realize that when my high school crush asked me out on April 28th, 1985, decades later we'd be blessed to end up together for good.
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