Mike and I met at Harding University. I (Rere) was a confused freshman learning who I was and excited to meet new people. Mike was an upperclassmen and foreign city boy who stood out with his “biker” inspired outfits and tall height. We met through a mutual friend and clicked from the beginning. I ran into him on campus while stopping to say hi to our mutual friend. All I could say to him was “wow, you look like a rock star!”
He was different. Many of the kids at our private christian college were similar in style, dress and personality… but he stood out. Maybe it was the accent but I found myself attracted to him, and I definitely let it show.
The first day I met him I saw him again that evening at a local coffee shop with our mutual friend. I’d gone with a group of friends but was too distracted by his presence there to focus on what they were discussing. I decided to walk over and say hello. I initially thought he was from New York City, I’m a small town girl who had hardly seen or heard anything outside of Arkansas. I wasn’t very ‘cultured’ to say the least. He just giggled and said he was from Belgium. I’m ashamed to admit I had no idea what Belgium was before this conversation, but as soon as he told me I was beautiful in French I was sold. He walked me to my dorm that night, and we exchanged numbers.
I’d often help him study, and we quickly became close friends. Everything happened so naturally. I found myself wanting to be around him daily, he became the best part of my day. I had a period of time where I isolated myself from everyone in the midst of dealing with family issues. Mike was the only one who was there for me. He took me in when I had nowhere else to go, and we became closer than ever.
Returning for my second year of college, I wasn’t as close to everyone as I had been previously. I no longer felt like I fit. I’d had a hard summer and lost interest in everything and everyone. I fell into a deep depression, I stayed in my room and missed a lot of classes. I slept A LOT during the day, and stayed up late at night. I cried everyday. I had no contact with my family and no one reached out to me aside from Mike. He was the only one I felt comfortable talking to. We were like best friends, I felt that I could confide in him and he would actually be there to listen.
Oddly enough he never asked me to be his girlfriend. He never even proposed. He simply walked in one day and told me “maybe you should put this on” and slid a gold wedding band on my left ring finger. Poor guy nobody told him an engagement ring and a wedding band are too different things. However, when I saw he had both our names engraved I was in awe. I didn’t even realize this was something that had been on his mind. I didn’t have to say “yes” he already knew the answer, he already knew me so well.
We got married quickly, and young. I think a lot of people had concerns and doubts about that. Our wedding was the day after my 20th birthday, and I’m sure to this day some people think we are insane for getting married so young, but we never felt an ounce of regret.
3 years later and we have been through SO much together. We’ve had highs and we’ve had lows. We loss loved ones, and we gained a beautiful baby boy. We laughed, cried, yelled, screamed, and joked. We held each other in hard times, we calmed each other in rough times, we encouraged each other in dark times, we laughed with each other in good times, and we smiled with each other at joyful times. Many probably didn’t think we would even make it this far, but we continue to grow together everyday.
I’m forever thankful for that day freshman year when I ran into this man and he became apart of me forever.