Sometimes it’s overwhelming to thing that a single day can be so significant. Like all the other days before this day seem to pale when compared to it – and you know that all that days after it will be different. They’ll be different because of the inescapable fact that your life has changed forever. Instead of being one person with one heart and two souls, you become two people sharing the same heart and forming a bond between your souls. You can’t go through something of this magnitude and expect to go on living as before – love does change you, and marriage alters your entire world.
These were the thoughts I had on that beautiful day last April on the outskirts of Chicago, watching her glow as she walked on the aisle – making all my greatest hopes become reality.
I don’t exaggerate when I say that I’ve loved Kelly my whole life. We grew up on neighboring farms in Southwestern Illinois – both of us destined by our surroundings to simply finish high school and continue working on these farms until we fell over from exhaustion sixty years later. Kelly refused to give into this, and she refused to let me give in either.
It wasn’t a big secret that if anyone had a chance to get out of there, it was Kelly. I didn’t hold out much hope for myself, but she inspired me. She wouldn’t let me settle. My junior year of high school, for two months straight she brought me a college application to fill out every day. She told me that my grades were good enough to get a in-state scholarship, maybe not a full one, but enough to get started, and that we could get a cheap apartment and work when we weren’t in class or studying.
There was something infectious about the way she never gave up on me, how even when I got my first rejection letter, than my second – after she had already been accepted to 4 schools – she assured me that everything was going to be alright. That I had filled out so many that at least one school was going to want me.
She was right too. I didn’t get into Purdue or Notre Dame or the University of Illinois – those had been pipe dreams anyways – but I did get into Northeastern. Kelly had been accepted to DePaul and a handful of other places, but she told me – and to this day I don’t know if it was for me or if she was being honest – that DePaul’s Anthropology program was the best of all the schools she had been accepted to, and that she had always wanted to live in a big city like Chicago.
Many couples that grow up together and fall in love in highschool, don’t make it through the difficult time of college. They say that you change so much between 15 and 22 that you’ll eventually grow apart, be into new and different things – there’s no way it could work.
Well, maybe I got lucky, maybe we got lucky. Both of us worked extremely hard through college – I merely graduated, Kelly graduated with honors. The fall of our senior year, I asked her to marry me. She had given me the strength to rise above my situation, inspired me to be a better person – I never wanted to be without her.
In her glittery, charming way – with the golden curls she’s had since she was very young bouncing around her chin as she laughed – “Of course,” she said, “I thought you’d never ask.