Our Love Story....
This is my love story. A thank you to my husband, my one true friend…. My partner… I have never penned these words, but in honor of Valentine’s Day, I will share my story… or at least parts of it… the story of young love, change, separation, and of my redemption in marriage…the story of us looking to the future together. It is long so grab a cup of coffee if you are going to finish this (peppermint mocha is my recommendation).
I was 18, and I was an idiot. I made bad dating choices….”bad” boys and with no jobs and no desire to change. However, as a freshman in college, I was trying to get involved and meet more people. I had loved flag football in high school and so I thought playing for the Baptist Student Union wasn’t a bad idea. I was competitive and actually not that bad at it. My coach, Paul Gibson, invited us over for a team dinner at his house just as the season was revving up….a group of 11 or 12 co-eds in Paul’s apartment made for a loud and crazy time. I remember his roommate, JT, coming home to the chaos. He was friendly, and we talked basketball since he worked for the WKU men’s team. The next night Paul invited my friend Sarah and I back over for more food…I was convinced one of them had a crush on Sarah. Nope. JT liked me, per Paul. I was, unfortunately, still dating one of those “said” boys.
He worked hard to date my immature self….he took me to a nice dinner at 440 Main followed by an Edgar Allen Poe play, Mask of the Red Death. We spent many hours playing basketball at Diddle Arena into the wee hours of the morning….him fouling me but draining threes in my face. He was persistent, dedicated and genuinely interested in me, despite my large American Eagle ski coat and pink Jansport backpack. I was still an idiot. I was wrapped up in image and my ideas of what my future would hold…
Fast forward…..in April of 2002, I awoke the morning prior to a road trip with my friend Amber…. At the risk of sounding corny, it really was like an epiphany. After all of the months I spent time just “hanging out”, I realized that I liked this guy….like….really liked him. I called his buddy Paul (the guy who introduced us) and told him. Paul, in watchfulness of his friend’s feelings after I shot him down sooooo many times, told me to take the weekend and think about it. I did and my mind was unchanged…. I called JT, asked him to come to my apartment, to which he reluctantly agreed.
Sitting around my kitchen table in a small Lost River townhouse, he asked me, “Who are you dating? Are you engaged? Are you pregnant? Are you dying? Who do you like now?“ in rapid fire mode….which I deserved after the nine months I made him endure, chasing me around Bowling Green. After the last question…Who do you like…… I basically yelled. “You. I like you.” He sat there stoic for a minute then stood and said “okay” and left. So anti-climatic…..no taking me in his arms and kissing me deeply…
We got married 15 months later in my hometown. (the time preceding our wedding was extremely stressful and eventful but not worth my divulging in my “love” story).
We spent our first anniversary sitting on the floor of Pete Herrmann’s (JT’s new boss) living room and eating Chick-fil-A. JT had accepted a job at the University of Georgia on staff with their men’s basketball team. His dream job but not so dream pay. Like the brilliant and timely person I am, I decided one month before graduating with English and teaching degrees that I wanted to be doctor…. BRILLIANT. However, this dream was put on hold so that I could work. I eventually picked up my classes again at night and managed to bomb the MCAT.
Through a series of events, I came in contact with Ross University, a medical school in Caribbean. Because of my low MCAT score and desire to go ahead and start med school, I applied, interviewed and was accepted. JT and I were very nervous….nervous about the costs, the distance, me living alone in the Caribbean, and if our marriage could withstand it. On the day after Christmas 2005, I was standing in the security line at the Atlanta airport with tears streaming endlessly down my face….my mom standing silently beside me.
I missed home… I ached for football Sundays and holding hands and seeing people I knew and loved. I was thankful for Vonage and what $15/month could get you in phone calls. I lived in a place that named their neighborhoods things like Banana Trail and Lizard Trail….where people grilled plantains on the street for 10cents and ate lunch a place called “the shacks.” I cut on corpses and was drowning in physiology. I was surrounded by cultures I knew little of… that first semester, I counted the days until I could come home while eating things like naan and lentils in the 800 degree kitchen of my Edison, New Jersey friend Shruti…. I was quiet, withdrawn, and nervous that semester. Laugh, but it is true.
JT continued to work at UGA but transitioned back to Louisville and was coaching his alma mater in high school basketball as I moved into a new semester. I was making more friends as I played flag football and was pretty good at it. I struggled as a girl who got married at twenty and never went out and partied and lived that life AND the girl who was married and missing home. The former girl was behaving in ways to mask the hole in the latter. I studied hard, made more friends but as the months progressed, I was making decisions uncharacteristic of the wife that my husband had put on a jet plane a few months prior.
I reached a breaking point. It was my life as I was living it or my marriage. Our marriage seemed to be happening in our absence…we were both alive but functioning in two worlds….mine a vacuum of studying, clinicals, Kubuli beer, all-nighters (weekdays and weekends), and bad Chinese food. JT’s was filled with high schoolers, basketball, family, and running. In a moment where Jesus used someone that I did not like to reach out and slap me in the face, I repented. I confessed my behaviors to the people whom I was holding at an arm’s length, my Lord and my husband. I did not deserve the love or forgiveness from either, but I knew at least God would take me back.
After days of grappling with it, JT took me back, through tears and pain and strife and hurt. He forgave me. Thankfully, he had two good friends surrounding him; I prayed he would gradually trust me again. I felt isolated …..I was all of sudden choosing to change things and an image I had created….a Christian on Sundays at 5pm, sometimes, but not any other moment. I was not a nice person or loving or giving….
I watched Love Actually daily as I studied, counting the days until I faced JT after our roughest season in our 3 year old marriage. I ascended the escalators in the Delta terminal in Cincinnati, Ohio… I will never forget it. He was wearing khakis, a plaid button down, and brown sport coat. I don’t cry and tears trickled down my cheeks. I gingerly walked up to him and nervously froze. I did not know how I would be received.
Undeservedly, he took me in arms and held me. I lost track of how long we stood there. Redemption. I realized how far we had come….a bond, through trials we did not want to repeat, had been formed. Not only did he take me back, he reserved a room at a bed and breakfast, bought me pajamas and a CD, and made love to me again. And, he made sure the B&B served crème brulee stuffed French toast.
I finished my stint in the Caribbean and we transitioned to living in our 500 square foot $1700/month Astoria, Queens apartment. I trekked to the Bronx, Brooklyn and Jamaica, Queens for my hospital rotations. JT first worked at Old Navy then for a State Farm agent. It was a blast living in NYC but finances were tight and only got tighter. I was deciding that I wanted to move closer to Kentucky for my residency, so I began figuring out ways to get us back there…. In the meantime, we decided that my fourth year of med school was going to be the perfect time to have a baby, so we thought.
I will be honest. Up until this point, our marriage was not grounded in Christ. We were Christians, but we were those “good people kind of Christians.” Always comfortable, not taking chances, praying when we needed a bill paid. God was about to step in.
We moved back to Somerset, KY, and graciously my dad offered JT a job and let us live in his basement. In our fifth year of marriage, we were living in my dad’s basement…. CLASSY. As we continued to try to get pregnant, I was timing sex, checking basal temperatures and becoming all out an obsessed crazy lady. I was using clomid, after I demanded it from my doctor. My heart was breaking and I was again trying to put a wedge in my marriage.
Time went by and I was barren…we could not get pregnant. On an October day in 2009 sitting in JT’s Mamaw’s house, JT looked me and said, “If you are ready to move forward with adoption, let’s do it.” We had talked about it over and over in the past but thought, “we will have our OWN kids first.” Laughable now, but as JT said that to me….again, like all those years ago when I knew I finally liked him, I knew this was what we were supposed to do.
Like I said, God stepped in…he threw in a little bit of infertility to send us running to Him and the desire to adopt put us on our knees…. Check our FIRST ADOPTION BLOG POST. Our lives have since been changed.
This may have bored you and for that I am sorry, I guess. We have lived in 13 homes in our seven and a half years of marriage. The biggest thing I have learned during the years of significant UPs and DOWNs…..love is a choice…..marriage is a choice. It has not been easy, but looking back, I have grown into a wife and mother and Christian that continues to evolve.
I am so thankful for this man God has given me and blessed with me. I am anxious and excited about looking out into our future together.