Today marks 19 years of marriage for us. Dana and I have known each other for 30 years. We were Speech and Debate competitors in high school, pen pals in college, and we dated for a year before we were married on July 11th, 1997.
This man is my soulmate.
When I traveled to Palmetto High School in December of my sophomore year in high school, he was the first of my fellow speech and debate competitors to walk into the room before we started our first competition together. We became fast friends. He had a girlfriend at the time, much to my disappointment, but we continued to compete against one another (I did beat him in competition!) When we made it to Nationals in NYC, we exchanged addresses and became pen pals. Yes, snail mail pen pals!
He signed my notebook on the plane ride back to FL after competition was over that May and we just kept writing to each other throughout high school.
We both went our separate ways in college, me in Orlando and Dana at Emory in Atlanta. When I was a senior in college, and going through a bad breakup, I received an email. This was in the days of AOL being the only email and internet service that was available. My father emailed me Dana's information because he had tried to call me back at home when I was away at school. I called him and it was like no time had passed. I stopped to visit him when he was at home from college at Thanksgiving with his current girlfriend. He was so nice to me and supportive as I was having such a difficult time. Outside a coffee shop, when we were visiting each other in December, as we said our goodbyes, a stranger who was turning into the coffee shop parking lot rolled down his window and said, "Young love." We did not kiss or become romantic at that time in any way, but there was a connection between us, and later on, we both broke away from our current relationships. We spent New Year's Eve together. During the next year, he became a police officer and I finished my degree and started teaching. We were long distance for a while. Then, on Valentines Day of 1998, he proposed, and that July we were married.
We have been through so much together. I could tell you so many stories that would show you how strong he is and how much he loves and supports me in anything and everything I want to accomplish. I love him more than anything and try to support him in every way I can.
He has a successful career as a police lieutenant and I could not be prouder of the respect he commands and the role model he is to those around him at work. I get really scared everyday when I hear about police officers getting killed in the line of duty. I have no idea what I'd do without him.
His support and the fact that we do everything together makes me so happy. When we run races together, he stays with me, despite the fact that he could finish faster. He sees me struggle and motivates me. He pushes me to complete the races and helps me repeat mantras. There is something so special about crossing a finish line together and putting our medals on each other, which is a tradition we started and has so much meaning for me that I get choked up thinking about those times together.
Today, as we celebrate a milestone in our lives and recall such a special and happy day, I wanted to take the time to tell you a bit about him and how we met. I wish and hope for everyone in the world to have a partner as incredible as I do.