Fifteen years ago, I was working from home on my computer. I was entering data into a program to keep track of statistics at the homeless shelter I was running. Over the course of the day, I had gotten several "instant message" requests from strangers wanting to chat on AOL. Keep in mind, this was 15 years ago...when computer chatting was pretty new. I wasn't interested in chatting with strangers as I was working and just didn't commonly strike up conversations with someone I didn't know online. Until.....
I got this instant chat from someone that said, "Hello from the NW side". At that point I was living in a city that divided itself into quadrants...NW, NE, SW, SE. At that time I was living on the NE side. I don't know what possessed me...maybe I needed a break...maybe I liked the original greeting....maybe because I knew the person was from the same town...I said "Hello" back. From there a chat ensued and continued off and on through the next several days on the computer.
Finally, I had asked him to meet up with some friends at a bar....hoping I could get a peek at this guy I had been talking to. But, he didn't show. I was bummed and then found out...he was in a car accident....really...for real. He really was in a car accident. It was even in the newspaper.
But, because that car accident was in the newspaper, I was able at that point, to get his address. So, I did a little investigating. Because of my job at the time, I could look up people's criminal records and backgrounds. It wasn't as easy then as it is now. Anyway, I took the opportunity to check out his records and do a "drive by" of his place. Would you believe he lived just a few houses away from my best friend's dad???
After finding out he didn't have a criminal record, lived in a decent house, and really worked where he said he worked....our conversations moved from the computer to the phone. We spent many nights on the phone solving the world's problems and learning about each other.
Finally, in the wee hours of March 28, 1998, after nearly a 3 hour conversation, I suggested we meet. So, I offered to go to his house. I KNOW YOU ARE PROBABLY SCREAMING AT ME RIGHT NOW! You should NEVER go to a strange man's house in the middle of the night without ANYONE knowing where you are going! Well, I did. I remember I was shaking like a leaf. I remember taking the exit off the interstate and saying out loud....What are you doing???? I pulled in his driveway and said a little prayer that I hadn't made the stupidest decision of my life and got out of the car.
When Pat opened the door, I breathed a huge sigh of relief. He was sooooo cute. He was "normal". He even had 2 cats. We stayed up all night talking and he made me breakfast. I left to go home and sleep and came back later. Truthfully, I think we were together every day after that night.
By May I had taken him home to meet my family. By August 1, 1998, we were engaged.
This is us before Pat's brother's wedding in August 1998. Oh how young we look.
We decided it would be fun to be married exactly 365 days after we officially "met". So, we got married March 27, 1999. It was a beautiful, spring day. The sun was shining, the breeze was blowing, and the flowers were blooming. Our siblings, family, and friends all stood up with us and shared in our special day. It was such a blessing to have Pat's dad with us as he was only with us 5 more months. Some of those photos from that day are some of the last that we have with him. I just remember being blissfully happy that day. We had SO. MUCH. FUN. The reception was a blast and I remember thinking that I didn't want the night to end.
And now....here we are....15 years after meeting, 14 years after our wedding day....living life to the fullest. We are blessed with 3 amazing children who keep us laughing, running, and in awe of their talents nearly every day.
I can't tell you how grateful I am that HE said "Hello" and I said "Hello" back. It truly was "meant to be".