Thursday, January 21, 2010

In the Refiner's Fire - Meeting John

So last week I talked about my college years and the week before that my life growing up. This week? Meeting John. That happened while we were at college but there were some specific things that happened that I feel are important to share. So, here we go:

Meeting John

As I mentioned last week, I attend a campus ministry while I was at college. They served supper every Sunday evening, since the cafeterias at the dorms were closed. "Two bucks, two bucks, two bucks, unless you're first time and then it's free!" That was the Sunday night cry the whole time we were there. They had a special dinner the first Sunday of the semester to welcome people. John was a Peer Minister - one of two paid positions - and he was actually at home for most of the dinner. He arrived toward the end and talked about some of the things that were going to happen later that fall (a couple of retreats, and the like). I went back to my dorm, called a friend at another college and told her "There's this guy and he's SO HOT!" Yep. I was cool back then. :)

They had the kitchen/dining area (large room with a kitchen built across one end) where we could study and they always had coffee, hot cocoa, tea, etc. available for us to make. John and I and a number of other people studied there on a regular basis. We got to know each other by talking over our books, and studying for the classes we both had. He was dating someone else. I was bummed, but wasn't really looking for a boyfriend, so that was OK. About a month later the girl dumped him - the day he'd spent $150 he didn't have to see a show at the theater. He claims he then asked me to go with him, but he didn't because I would have said yes! (I have witnesses that said he never did too :) )

Then he asked me out. We went to "Casino Night" at his dorm room and then went back to his room to watch "Willow" on VHS taped off the TV at some point after we realized just about everyone there was drunk as skunks (loooong story!). Yes, we were technologically savvy - remember this was the early '90s! We didn't want to say goodnight so we walked along the river until about 330am. I remember giving him a hug at one point and my long hair getting caught in his shirt buttons.

About a month after that we were laying on the floor in my dorm room watching the musical "Into the Woods" (one of my all-time favorites) on PBS on my roommate's little black and white TV. He looked at me and said "Do you want to get married some day?" My reply? "Of course I want to get married some day." "No, no, no. I mean to me." Pause. "Yes." That was the start of this whole thing!

We told our Pastor and that was about it. We knew our parents wouldn't be that thrilled - mine would have been dead-set against us getting married before school was done anyway. But we started dating and planning and wishing and hoping. He left his Peer Minister job and I took it. We still studied together. He was a custodian/lock up/set up person at the church as well as working at food service in the dorm and as a lab prep person for his department. I worked as a research assistant for my department and as a peer minister. Plus we were full time students. Yes, sleep was at a premium. But those years were mostly good. We dated for 2 1/2 years and were engaged for 2 1/2 years before we actually got married. Why so long?

Over that first Christmas break, John got Mono really bad. It was a terribly severe case and since he was paying his own way through (in reality - the 'pretend' version was that his folks were paying), he didn't take the 4 weeks off his doctor told him he had to.

Two years later, John got really sick. REALLY SICK. As in can't eat sick. As in losing 40 lbs when you don't have any extra on you sick. As in counting ribs and sunken cheeks and can't keep water down sick. I remember him laying on my dorm room floor holding his abdomen and turning crayon yellow. His parents didn't want me to take him to the ER because their insurance would only cover their local hospital. Not that I had a car to take him there anyway. His Dad came and got him. They almost didn't make it home - 1 1/2 hours away - because John was so sick.

John was in the hospital for 2 weeks. They couldn't figure out what was wrong.

Finally they determined that the Epstein-Barr Virus had never left his body and was now attacking his liver. UGH. It took him 2 years and taking a year off from school to recover enough that he could have a glass of champagne at our wedding. Taking that year off meant we had to postpone our wedding for a year and had to live in two different states for year. Trust me - I will never, ever live in two different states again if I have any choice in the matter.

That all happened in a fall semester. Spring semester we got officially 'engaged' - ring, down on one knee, and stars up above. The whole works. We got married in 1998 with the big, white church wedding, dinner, dance and the whole works there too. It was all we'd ever hoped of.

I was young and stupid and didn't really understand that John didn't buy groceries for 3 months (literally) to pay the $300 for my tiny emerald engagement ring. Now I do. I didn't really understand that the traits that bothered me the most about him (the way he dressed, cut his hair, etc.) didn't really matter in the long run. Now I do. There are so many more things I could list here too.

Most importantly, I was young and stupid and didn't realize how much we had to learn about being in love, being married and being committed "Until Death Do Us Part" - which has always been and always will be the only option for us.

I'll write more about that next week.

How did you meet your spouse? Would you like to share?

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Lea