Yes, it is true. John & I are proof that you can meet the love of your life at 15 or 16. That is how old we were 31 years ago today when John & I met on a yellow school bus.
We had been at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event at UVA with hundreds of other teenagers and ended up sitting together on the way back to Richmond. Good thing we didn’t have cell phones to disappear into!
Instead, John’s inventive mind was plotting how to hold my hand. Endless rounds of thumb wars commenced and ended with the victor taking the spoils: my hand to hold!
When John cleaned up the bus after everyone got off, my interest was sealed. I came home and announced to my mom, “I met the kind of guy you’d want me to marry (& he is really cute too!).”
Thus began a love that hasn’t let me go. Death changed John’s location but the love that took up residence in my heart 31 years ago is still perfectly at home.
Recently, I was driving along with one of our girls and I announced, “I am still so in love with your daddy.”
A few minutes later she wistfully, quietly replied, “Mama, I am so glad you still love my daddy.”
It took my breath away. I didn’t realize that it would warm her heart to hear me say it.
It is simply the truth: love is stronger than death.
Last year, to celebrate our 30th anniversary of meeting one another, I wrote about the night we met. I wanted our kids and (very future grandkids) to remember and smile.
So, I am sharing it with you today. I know it is a little long, but it is the right post for this day.
Loving the One who gave him to me for 10,345 days,
November 12, 1983 and fall’s stained-glass sunlight made the afternoon glow.
Time to head home after a day of UVA football and faith.
A last minute seat change to another bus was the beginning of my future.
Now I was two seats away from “him.”
Blonde and blue, t-shirt and jeans;
All worn with confidence and silliness in one compelling John Carroll package.
Girls had talked about him for weeks.
Now I knew why.
Buses stopped for fast food, sending teens in every direction.
Then herded back on: dimmed faces on a darkening bus; excitement in the air.
Me: Settling into empty seat.
Him: Out of the blue (with bluest eyes): “You’re in my seat.”
Me: “Your’s? Sorry. I didn’t know. I’ll move…”
Standing, fumbling, gathering stuff, preparing to slide by…
Him: “No, it’s okay. Would you like to sit in my seat with me?” (said with a smile).
“Umm….sure…” (inwardly: YES!)
Me? John Carroll wants to sit by me?! He doesn’t know me at all!
There are lots of girls on this bus who want this spot;
They’re all prettier, funnier, cooler than me.
How am I the lucky one?
But he. sat. down. Heart leaped. Tummy tangled.
It’s a long way back to Richmond & I’ve never sat with a boy like this.
A cute boy like this. In the dark.
And, he’s funny. (I love that! Laughter breaks all that’s awkward).
And, he likes to talk. (I like that too! So much more interesting when a guy talks.)
And, he likes to play games. (Thumb Wars? Kinda silly, but, okay, I’ll play.)
Rocky I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII…
He has a strong thumb. I am losing. Like a lot.
But, he doesn’t seem to mind, nor does he ever seem to get bored with this game.
He’s holding my hand, not my thumb. The wars are over and we’ve graduated to holding hands?!
I didn’t see this coming.
(Years later, naive me was surprised to learn it was his endgame design all along.)
Shoulder to shoulder. Arm to arm.
Little did we know we’d be spending life like this.
That over time we’d become one person…the dot on the j, the twin curves on an m.
Our adventure was starting.
Something bigger than either of us had begun.
Our four contributions to eternity were in a distant May, June, March and August.
All from this seemingly haphazard, but Sovereign, early beginning in November.
Slowing, swaying. Bus turns into the parking lot benediction.
A long day of filtering fall through young lungs;
football game cheers & bus ride of yelling-to-be-heard;
A frenetic day only endlessly energetic teens would call fun comes to an end.
Lights on! Tired teens file off the bus.
No surprise…we’re the last to leave (being the last to leave started early)
and I am stopped. in. my. tracks. by the stuff this guy is made of.
Because he’s cleaning up!
Teenage litter fills the aisles, and he begins to gather it all.
Honestly, cleaning hadn’t crossed my mind.
Now I’m rebuffed but O. So. Impressed.
Did he know that picking up trash was going to seal the deal? It did.
I. Was. Very. Interested to know him more.
Like maybe forever.
Emphatic words to my Mom in the kitchen that night.
“I met the kind of guy you’d want me to marry.”
“Really?” A mom’s patient smile.
Almost six years later, the dream came true.
Only 15 and 16 but a gracious, extravagant gift had been given.
However, He doesn’t discriminate for age, as His own story tells.
It’s not too young if He does the giving.
He knew it was time…our time.
The clock began to tick. 10, 345 of the marrow of our life’s days.
This was Day One of our love’s forever.