[This is copied directly from my email to Laura]
I am slightly hesitant to tell the story of how Monte and I met, just because the timing of it all is something that super opens me up for judgement, which is why the story hasn't been put on my blog quite yet! I'm happy to share it with you, yet somehow it's still hard to tell! It's so weird because I am proud of my husband, proud to be his wife and everything worked out perfectly for us regarding our relationship, engagement and marriage -- yet the hurriedness of it all, from the outside looking in, causes lots of room for unwanted opinions! I already have a few people who are more than happy to raise their negative opinions on my blog (and no matter how much you tell yourself not to be bothered by them, they still hurt!), so I have yet to find the courage to post our story. Maybe telling it to you will help me muster up that courage! :)
I have no idea how long Monte and I have known each other (he could probably tell you, as he's much better with dates than I am!), but I think it's somewhere close to three years now. We knew each other as acquaintances, as I was the Business Manager of a physical therapy clinic and he was a patient there, rehabbing his shoulder post-op. We would chat when he would come in for his appointments, exchanging stories of family (as I knew he was married with kids) and holidays and everyday life. He was a nice guy that I knew, and nothing more. I was at a point in my life where I had told God that I was just done dating because I had bombed out with too many wrong guys and was just sick of the dating scene! I even told God that I was going to pack up and be a missionary in a foreign country because I didn't want to think about the guys in America anymore - I was just done!! :)
Well, one day, in February of 2008, Monte missed an appointment. This was incredibly unusual for him, as he is a really reliable guy. We didn't think much of it and moved on with our work. Later that week he missed another appointment and I decided to place a call to him, as he had several upcoming appointments on the books and I wanted to know whether I should cancel them or if he had just forgotten about them. I didn't reach him, but left a message. I later received a return call from his sister-in-law stating that we had to cancel all of his upcoming appointments. I ended up in a long discussion with her as, legally speaking, only a patient can cancel or change their appointments. She insisted, however, that if I didn't cancel them, they would be no-shows because he wasn't coming. I was confused, but at the approval of my boss, I cancelled the appointments. Later that week, Monte called in and chatted with my boss, Mike, (who was his physical therapist) and I later learned from Mike that Monte's wife had been killed in a snowmobiling accident. I never knew her, but yet the news hit me with such a blow that I went to the back office and wept for him and his family. I couldn't imagine the tragedy they must have been facing, the sorrow that must have been consuming them. After work that day, I spent hours in prayer for them - not really understanding why this particular death had hit so close to home with me (being the fact that I had never met Kelley), but knowing that my heart was burdened for Monte and his family. It was such a tragic loss - I couldn't even grasp the depths of it.
My friend, Kristin, and I decided that we wanted to offer our support to their family. There was an Easter Sunday service being dedicated to Kelley's memory at their church - so Kristin and I decided to go. I remember the drive out to their town was so long entirely because a blizzard had hit that morning and the winding roads were icy. It was a long trip! We got to the church and said hello, listened to the service, said goodbye and headed home.
I continued to see Monte when he would come in for his appointments. He would stay for hours after his appointment, just needing someone to talk to. Eventually, I had to tell him that I had to get back to work, and we exchanged email addresses instead, as that would be an easier way to communicate while still staying on top of my work! He sent me emails of hopelessness and despair, I replied with Bible verses (truly the only thing I knew to do). Our friendship grew a lot through the exchange of our emails. One day he wrote me saying he was having a particularly hard day and wanted to know if I could meet him for dinner. I said yes, so long as it was an early dinner, as I was house/puppy sitting for my sister's family. No problem. We met for an early dinner at a local steakhouse and that's where God truly intervened. We talked, we laughed, he cried. It was such an amazing evening! I can honestly say that I walked away from that night knowing that I had feelings for him. It scared me a lot! I wasn't intending on pursuing those feelings, as I knew he had been widowed only two months. In my opinion, he wasn't ready to date. Evidently he was feeling those same feelings, and he was feeling that same scare, because he sent me an email telling me that he couldn't talk to me anymore. I was hurt, I was sad, but I respected his request. I tell you, it was very lonely not talking to him, which surprised me because we didn't talk all that much before - and it was all via email!
Eventually he came in for another Physical Therapy appointment and it happened to be on an insanely busy day. I was training in a new front desk attendant, our phone was ringing off the hook, the patients were late and others were early, so their appointments were piling up - it was just an insane day! In the midst of all of that, I didn't get a chance to say anything but "hi" to Monte - and I felt really bad about it! I didn't want him to think that I was intentionally ignoring him, so I sent a quick email apologizing for the busyness of the day and telling him that I really missed talking to him. He wrote me back saying that he missed talking to me, too, and asking if he could call me that night. I said yes.
The conversation lasted four hours.
All the conversations in the nights to follow lasted just as long. We started hanging out. I met the kids. We spent time together. It was just right - that's truly the only way I know to describe it. It wasn't long after that Monte told the kids that we were officially dating (which they had already assumed!). However, I do have to say that we never shared so much as a kiss until after we had known that we were going to be married.
Kelley's accident happened in February of '08. We were engaged in September '08 and married in December '08. That's why I don't like telling the story - because if you're on the outside, no matter what explanation I give, it appears to be rushed. However, I have to say that our relationship has always been about all of us - Monte, me and all four of our kids -- never just about he and I. It's been a great first year, we're thrilled to have celebrated our first anniversary yesterday!
Our story is definitely not 'the norm', but neither is our relationship. It's true that we just knew from the very first time we got together one-on-one outside of work that we were going to be together. We're crazy in love, I'm crazy in love with the kids, and we have a pretty amazing harmony in our home. I couldn't have asked for a bigger blessing!
And that's our story. :)