Twenty years ago today, I met you.
I had one semester left to finish my Performing Arts degree at Western Kentucky University, with hopes to room-&-board with the Crosby family. But just a few weeks into June the theatre phone rang with a call from Bob & Joyce Ann: their youngest son was heading off to college, so they'd decided to spend the fall traveling, and wouldn't be hosting a student for the year.
Just a few weeks later, another call interrupted my dance rehearsal, this time with much more devastating news: Bob Crosby had died in a boating accident. Joyce Ann's world was torn apart, and in an effort to pull the pieces back together, she drew her sons close, and wanted me also to move in, to keep the house full & busy.
Unbeknownst to me, you were also being drawn to the green fields & spacious home on Elrod Rd. Jon had been your dear friend in high school, and you were there for him now when his Dad died, just as you had been after he lost his arm from cancer.
I was almost 2 weeks late for school, and had driven all night from TX to KY, after our final performance & closing night party. After unloading my car, heading to classes & rehearsals all day, and finally returning bleary-eyed to the Crosby's, I stepped through the back kitchen door with my dance bag slung over my shoulder.
The living room was illuminated only by the glowing screen of the movie you were watching. Jon jumped up to make introductions; his 2 dear friends keeping him company as he gently mourned the loss of his dad. I reached up to smooth my sweaty hair, hanging long down my back, after pulling out the pins that kept it twisted into a bun for ballet class. Self-conscious and exhausted, with a pinafore dress hanging loosely over leotard & tights, I was mostly embarrassed to meet you.
But I remember your smile. The open, honest, welcoming way you said "hello!" The friendly questions about my day, the trip from TX, settling into my new home for the semester.
You wrote in your journal about me. Twenty years ago:
"I met a girl today..."
You noticed my long hair, my lean dancer legs, my tentative interest. "I'll give Jon first dibs on dating her...next weekend I'll be back to ask her out," you wrote.
And so you did. Invited me to the Labor Day concert up at WKU. I nervously turned you down, opting instead to hang out with Joyce Ann for the day. When you came back that afternoon we sat on the bench swing & talked late into the evening.
Two weeks later we went out with Jon & that girl he was trying to break up with, remember? Nothing but hamburgers on the menu, so I ordered a salad. You did too. And a glass of Zinfandel. We sat & talked & laughed, and when your arm brushed against mine, the beating of my heart left me breathless.
Later that evening we all rented a movie, and I curled up on the floor in front of the chair you sat in. I don't remember what we watched, do you? I just remember that at some point I surreptitiously scooted back to lean against your chair. And you put your hands on my neck. Stroked tangles from my hair. Fingertips brushed against the tops of my shoulders.
How is it that all these years later, you can still make my heart race with a soft touch on my shoulder?
It wasn't love-at-first-sight. But almost.
September 26th, atop the Sears Tower Skydeck, I looked back at you across the room, and in one brief moment the world stopped spinning. I knew, somewhere deep inside, with a rush of vision prophetically spanning these 20 years and more-to-come: you were the one. My 22-year old brain didn't even know how to comprehend it all, but I rushed back to grab your hand & look up into your face, "I like you! I really like you!"
By mid-November we knew this was it. You professed your love under the hillside moonlight, blanket & wine glasses pre-set under that massive oak tree, sealing our forever-committment with kisses and your star-saphire ring. A handwritten letter, and Toad-The-Wet-Sprocket singing "I Will Not Take These Things For Granted" on repeat.
At Christmas time you pulled me up to Santa's lap at the Cool Springs Galleria mall in Nashville, TN and proposed. Santa cried. The short-skirted elf-picture-takers cried. The mommas in line with their babies cried. I cried, and stammered, and said yes, "oh my goodness.. yes!"
Hey, I just met you...
and this is crazy,
but here's my number,
so call me, maybe?
Twenty years ago today.
God put in motion this home filled with 7 children, these cozy straw-bale walls, nestled in towering Aspens, up here in the mountains of Colorado.
Who am I, who is my family, that He has blessed us so?
What gift of unfathomable worth are you, my Kevin.
Just as I did twenty years ago, atop the Sears Tower, I look across at you and think, "I like you! I really like you!"
How can it be? After so much loss, so much pain, so many struggles...that I still love you so?
What mystery is it, that God can work in us this enduring passion?
What miracle of everlasting resurrection that I can fall in love with you all over again? And again? And again?