I had lunch today with my mom and a friend of ours and somewhere during the conversation the story of how my husband and I met came up and since today is "We Wednesday" I thought that re-telling our love story here in my blog was perfectly appropriate today! I never get tired of telling it...I get to relive all of those special moments and emotions all over again so it makes my heart happy to share our story with others.
We met in the middle of the ocean...more specifically, we met on a cruise ship named the "Enchantment of the Seas" in July 2003. We were both on vacation with our families and for those who have never been on a cruise, you are assigned a dinner table that you eat at each night of the cruise. Jared and I sat at tables right next to each other the entire week. We both admit that we noticed each other day 1 but neither one of us had the courage to talk to one another. The very last night of the cruise, my mom had noticed I was "checking out" this guy all week and said to me "Leah, just ask him to go to the show with you later, the worst he can do is say no and then you'll probably never see him again so go for it." Back then I was somewhat shy so I had the waiter go over to his table and ask him if he would like to go to the show with me later that night. To my surprise and excitement, he agreed to meet up with me at the show. He and his brother met me and my friend at the theater show they put on every night of the cruise. Looking back there are several instances where I can see that God had hand-picked this man for me and had every detail worked out to bring us together. The first being that out of all the thousands of people on that cruise, he happened to sit next to me...I mean what are the chances when you think about it?? Another detail that at the time seemed small but now seems very significant is that he had a brother with him that night who was just a few years younger than Jared, and I was with my friend who was slightly older than I was. Before meeting up with Jared and his brother, my friend made the comment that whoever was the older of the two would be who she "pursued" since she was, in fact, older than I was. But within moments of meeting, Jared spilled his drink on me and at the time it just seemed like an accident but we can now look back and see that it was no accident and that God was setting the foundation for us...you see, had he not spilled his drink on me, he and I may not have been able to connect because that wouldn't have followed the "rule" my friend had...Jared was older and if we had gone with her request, Jared would have been her date that night as opposed to mine but he and I were able to inadvertently hit it off thanks to a seemingly clumsy moment.
After the show we walked around the ship talking and sharing about ourselves and through conversation discovered that he lived in Kentucky at the time and I lived in Indiana. He had the best sense of humor and seemed so easy to talk to....I remember laughing a better part of the evening. We found out that we really had a lot in common. At the end of the night we exchanged numbers and said goodnight without so much as a hug.
I don't think either of us thought we would see each other again, but that following week was his birthday and I thought "what a perfect excuse to call him!" After attempting to dial his number at least 20 times I finally stirred up the courage to dial his number...and actually let it ring. :) He sounded shocked that I had called but was in the middle of celebrating his birthday with family and promised to call me back later that night. I thought to myself "He was just saying that and probably won't ever call me back....he probably thinks I'm some crazy stalker girl from the cruise" Well, to my surprise, he did call back. We ended up talking for three hours on the phone that night and it became routine for the next 3 months. He drove the 6 hours to see me and we had our first official date at the Indianapolis Zoo. He brought with him a stuffed white tiger (my favourite animal at the time) After the zoo we had dinner, then walked the canal downtown and just talked and laughed together. We had a really great time but he had to drive back to Kentucky so with a hug, he left. Still no kiss. He would visit again and this time after he left, I remember crying my eyes out to my mom. She asked what was wrong and what had happened and my response was "I don't know" I thought he was the sweetest guy, and funny, and we had a lot in common but it just didn't feel like it was right timing. I was just starting college, gotten out of a really bad relationship and didn't know what I wanted from life and didn't think it was fair to bring someone into my life when I really didn't have my life together. So I was honest with him and told him I thought we should just be friends. He was so understanding (of course...because he's amazing)
I didn't date anyone for about 2 years after the decision to just be friends. I really just needed that time to sort my life out, figure out what I wanted and needed without complicating things with a relationship. Jared and I were not just friends, he became my best friend and we would go to concerts together, talked frequently to each other on the phone and through various social networks but never resurfaced our romantic relationship.
Then, on 11/11/06 I went to Illinois where he was going to graduate school and attended a concert with him, again, as friends. After the show he took me to a few places to take pictures (he knows I love photography)and then to a nice Italian restaurant for dinner. On our way to dinner he made a subtle comment about me being beautiful and I replied that I didn't want to ruin the friendship we have. And I meant it. I felt safe as friends and feared that starting a relationship would somehow change what we had as friends. He then replied "If I'm not the guy that you're supposed to end up with, well then that sucks for me, but ultimately I just want to see you happy because you deserve to be happy". And thought "this man is willing to be JUST my friend for life...and is totally sincere when he says that!" We get to the restaurant and I remember at one point, stopping in mid sentence, looking across the table at him, and he was looking at me with this look that I can now only describe as "the look of love" because I had never had anyone look at me the way he looked at me that night. I can still see his eyes so vividly in my mind and I said to myself right then "I am in love with this man". I took the time during my car ride home to Indiana to think about my revelation and said out loud to myself over and over "I'm going to marry this man" So as soon as I got home I told him that I would be crazy if I said I didn't want to be with him. He embraced the idea of "us" with open arms and we were inseparable ever since.
We took turns driving the 2 hours to see each other every weekend for about 3 months and one night while at my apartment he was talking about his plans for after he graduated and I asked if I could come with him to which he replied "I'd be devastated if you didn't" That's when I knew that we both felt the same for each other...we were in love. On Groundhog's Day, 2007 he proposed. He had rose petal trails throughout my apartment leading to pictures and note cards with memories we had shared together on them. There were 11 total(my favorite number) and the last card he held next to his chest that read "The most important of them all" He got down on one knee and said "We've made a lot of wonderful memories together and I wanted to spend forever with you so we can make a lifetime more...will you marry me?" Through tears of joy I exclaimed: "A thousand times yes!"
He then told me he had made reservations at a downtown restaurant to celebrate. The restaurant overlooks the city and slowly rotates so you can see the entire city at sunset. When we get to the restaurant, to my surprise, he had invited my mom and dad to celebrate with us. He had asked them in advance for their blessing which really meant a lot to me. It was a perfect end to a perfect proposal.
We were married on 11/11/07...a year exactly from the day I realized he was the one. It was and is to this day the best day of my life! He is my best friend, my soul mate, my everything. He sees me the way I wish I could see myself. I couldn't have dreamed together a more wonderful, loving, intelligent, handsome man. He has made me the luckiest and I'm so proud to be his wife!