Yesterday was my seventh anniversary. And oddly enough, one of the hardest days for me in regards to my mom.
I woke up and thought about it being my anniversary. Then I realized that on December 9th, 2009, my parents went to a bed and breakfast to celebrate their 31st. They were hopeful for healing for mom. But they also were very aware that it could be their last one together. And it was.
Nick took me back to the place where he proposed. It was in “Jesse’s Garden”; a memorial garden in Jacksonville, Southern Oregon. It sits just outside of Nick’s old highschool, and I wonder what would have changed in that highschool boy’s mind and life had God shown him what would take place in that garden when he was 21. He had no idea that he would promise himself to me. He didn’t even know who I was. Oh, but God knew.
So… instead of focusing on the heaviness of all the other thoughts from yesterday, I’m gonna share our story.
I met Nick on a snowy day at Simpson. Our dorms were involved in a huge snow ball fight, and my roommate introduced us. And I thought he was gorgeous from moment number 1. We didn’t have too much interaction, outside of my roommate, and though I knew he thought I was cute, I wasn’t too distracted because someone had told me that Nick was not into really skinny girls. I was ridiculous thin then, and thought I was out of the running for his heart. So I chased other silly ventures that I would rather not remember. Let’s just say that Nick left simpson, and I finished up 2001 with a broken heart of huge proportions from another guy.
Around March of ’02, I had healed enough to turn my focus outward. I began journaling prayers about my future husband, whoever he might be. I would later find out (one year into marriage) that March of ’02 was one of the worst months of Nick’s life. He didn’t know then that his future wife was praying for him, literally interceding for his life and heart.
And strangely, for reasons unknown to him, he returned to Simpson in the fall of ’02. I heard he was coming back that summer, and remember thinking, “At least I’ll get to see Nick again…”
We didn’t hang out too much at first, but I learned that if I cut through the cafeteria to get to my next class that he would be coming the opposite way and I would get to see him. It became a daily thing for us to pass by each other in the thick crowd of other students and to grab each others’ hands.
I found myself thinking about him all the time, but not in an infatuated or obsessed way. He would just be on my mind.
One day I leaned into the dessert shelf in the cafeteria and felt hands cover my eyes. It was Nick, and I literally threw my arms around my neck. I don’t know why. I’d never done that before with any guy. But I was just that happy to see him. To have him there in front of me. I asked him to skip class with me. One of mutual friends did not agree with our possible union and stole my backpack taking it into class with him. I followed “friend” to said class, grabbed my backpack, and walked right out. I hopped in Nick’s car and we drove out to my house.
My mom was not happy to meet him. She refused to call him by his name for weeks, but referred to him as whistling ears.
And from then on my heart was never the same. I thought about him all the time, up and down, yes and no. I couldn’t decide what I wanted. Well, of course I wanted him, but I was sure that a relationship was not the right thing for me. My heart was newly mended, and I was not about to get hurt again. He would invite me to hang out, and I would go with the intentions of ending things between us. I would leave completely head over heels, kicking myself the entire way home. I was in love from the first date, and could not bring myself to break it off because it would hurt me too much.
After a few weeks, I’m sitting in “Sweet Home Alabama” with him and I’m wrestling in my mind the whole time. Well, we all know movies aren’t good dates anyways, and finally convinced myself that I just could not put myself in this situation. I knew my heart would not be able to stand getting broken one more time. I was prepared to do this, yet completely depressed about it. Nick picked up on my mood and brought up the idea of going to hang out with friends. I agreed, and we drove back to his dorm so he could put on more comfortable clothes.
As I sat in that car in the dark, rehearsing what I was going to say, I realized again, that I didn’t want to break things off with Nick. I wanted to be with him. I wanted him. I sat there completely confused, until I saw him walk back up the hill towards the car. He was wearing a white t-shirt and baby blue warm up pants. Yes. Baby blue warm up pants. And that is the moment when I knew I was looking at my husband. Something clicked, and I cherish those pants. Maybe it was the playfulness, or his goofy grin, but that moment forever changed my life.
Cause I knew I was staring at the greatest man I had and would ever know. Cause I was looking at someone that made me want to be better, not out of guilt, but out of inspiration and desire and hope that I really could do or be anything. Cause this man was someone that always made me feel good. Even in our dark moments. I always felt good. Cause in him I saw my future. My children. My grandchildren. My dreams coming true.
I jumped in head first, only “going slow” for the other people in my life. He asked my dad for permission to date and thank God that he gave it, because I would have been with Nick anyway. Nothing could have torn me away from him. We knew we were going to get married. “Dating” was just for every one else’s sake. And everyone else was not happy about it.
My pastors confronted me about it. They said I was not making wise decisions and made me promise not to kiss Nick. Oops. Friends at simpson tried to convince me that it just wasn’t right, though none of them really had any good reasons for it. Goodness, it seems like on every side there was oposition. Except from God and our parents. Everyone who really mattered was in on it, but it was sure hard for me to know I was going forward without the blessing of so many others whom I cared about.
One afternoon in late March, Nick and I were up in Medford visiting his family. We had gotten into a silly argument, and I remember sitting in my room trying very hard to be angry with him, but unable to because he was in the living room playing his guitar. He kept playing the same tune over and over again- a tune that he often played when he was relaxing with his guitar. I had never heard it before, but I associated it with him. I made my way out to the living room and things between us were suddenly just fine.
He took me to church out at Applegate Fellowship in Jacksonville. A beautiful church by the way, in a beautiful town. After worship and a teaching, we drove back to his house and sat around debtating what to do next. I always joke about how nothing good ever happens after midnight, but I’ll have to stop saying that because what happened this night was very good. And very clean, so get your minds out of the gutter.
Nick suddenly got an idea. He told me he was going to take me somewhere special. I climbed into his car and he found a sweaty gym shirt in the backseat and put it over my head as a blindfold. He drove for what seemed forever and then when he stopped, just told me to wait in the car. I waited in the dark with a shirt over my head for a long time. Good thing no cops saw us.
Finally, the door opened and he scooped me up and carried me down some steps and set me on a bench. When I opened my eyes I was in a tiny garden. Its brick walls and floor were sunken below ground level, and the upper walls were made of white wood and lattice. There was a fountain in the middle surrounded by green vines and leaves. And everywhere, on the benches, on the ground, on the steps, were tea candles. It was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, the candle light dancing off water.
We went back there for our anniversary.
I asked him what we were doing there and he said we were having a picnic. He opened up an ice chest and served me ice cream. This was before my lactose intolerance had set in, back when I was obsessed with ice cream. We ate icecream and laughed and talked. Then he put it all away and poured us glasses of sparkling cider. Now, I knew what was going on and started to get giddy.
He toasted us. Then he pulled out his guitar and started playing that little musical riff that I had come to associate with him. But, for the first time he sang words to it. It was a beautiful, sweet, wonderful song, the most important line being the one where he sang, “Oh Katie … will you stay with me, for the rest of my life? For the rest of your life?”
He got down on one knee and showed me the most beautiful ring. Before he even asked, I said “yes” and jumped onto him, breaking one of the wine glasses. He laughed and said, “You didn’t even let me say it!” So, I let him finish, and then jumped back into his arms.
I had known it was coming, but had never imagined it being so special. I had known that being his fiance would be wonderful, but I had no idea how it would feel until I actually was. Until I could look at him and say , “You are my husband.”
When we got back to Redding, my parents sat me down and said that they didn’t have the money for a wedding. That they would need at least a year to save up. We had expected this and agreed. Then… my dad looked at me and said, “But when do you want to get married?”
I said, “This summer”. It was five months away.
My parents looked at each other said, “Okay. We’ll find a way.”
A few weeks later, my dad got a check in the mail. It was reimbursement for some advertising someone had done where they used his name to sell a product. Yes, my dad’s name can sell lumber. That’s a whole different story. But it was enough to cover the cost of the wedding.
And so we were married at 1:00 pm on August 16, 2003. And after we were married, and had walked back down the aisle together and were hiding out alone in the back hallway, we looked at each other and said, “Wow. This is really real.”
I said, “Do you still want me?”
He said, “Yes, I do. You still want me?”
I said, “Absolutely.”
And I still absolutely do.