Once Upon a Time, there was a young 15-year-old girl who fell in love with a boy. She was a freshman in high school and he was a junior. They met one day in the cafeteria while a group of people including her brother were hanging out. She noticed him right away; he was tall but not skinny. He had a darker complexion because his father was Cherokee. His dark long hair came to his chin. But it wasn’t until he spoke for the first time did she fall in love with this stranger. Another classmate handed him a cassette tape that he borrowed and he said “Be Kind Rewind.” Like the tapes at Blockbuster. She thought that was so funny and witty. And that’s where their love story began.
It didn’t take long, but this young couple was falling faster and faster in love. They were inseparable. From meeting between classes and hanging out at his home or hers. He lived in an apartment with his mother, sister and brother. His mother was hardly home but it was clear that she was different and didn’t care for her son’s new love. His sister was only a couple of years younger but had the mental capacity of a 5-year-old. She was very sweet, and his younger brother was a busy boy that hardly ever sat down. All three had different fathers but they weren’t in the picture.
Their love was fast, passionate and free. There was no fear, there was no hesitation. They were each others first and the connection was always electric. It seemed as though they were meant for one another. He completed her and had a way of making her believe in men again. He would write her notes, sing to her and would present her with red roses on a regular basis. If it weren’t for others they hardly knew anyone else was around. They built this amazing, crazy love that no one else could understand but it wasn’t always that way. They had troubles, they had struggles but it felt like they could get through anything as long as they were together.
A year into their romance his mother killed herself by jumping off a bridge into an inch or so of water. She was schizophrenic. Her parents took all three of them into their home until his sister and brother could be placed with their dads. She could never forget the eerie note his mother left behind with her things and when the police came looking for him to do a photo ID of his mother. Once they had his sister and brother placed with their fathers, they thought that things would calm down and they could go back to being blissfully in love. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only trial they would face. His sister was temporarily returned till she could be placed in another home because she was being abused and neglected by her own father and his friends. Then the awful news that his brother was left alone and involved in a terrible fire. He almost died several times. He suffered third degree burns over 80% of his body. They visited him regularly at the burn unit at CHOP. The burn unit was a horrible place to visit. His brother was so swollen and covered in bandages. If you left you couldn’t get the smell of iodine out of your clothing. It took months and months to get him healthy enough for painful skin grafting and then grueling therapy. His brother survived, but would remained scarred for life. They made it through these terrible tragedies and even planned to marry.
On August 28th 1999 they married in a beautiful backyard wedding and planned to live in the apartment they already rented. Now they began their life as Man and Wife.
To be continued…