I attempted to set this post to publish automatically on our anniversary (July 18th) but it didn't :( And then I thought, well it's too late, but ya know what? I spent A LOT of time typing this so...happy belated anniversary to Mark and I (we're celebrating this Saturday at a Pirates game!)
Today my hubby Mark and I celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary! Our anniversary is also his little sister Marie's Birthday and this year our newest nephew Philip Joseph gets baptized on our special day. Apparently, it's a pretty awesome day!!
Mark and I knew each other for 16 months before we said 'I Do', 9 months before we got engaged, 5 months before we did an engagement/break up novena, 3 months before we said I Love You and 1 month before we met in person. We met online, CatholicMatch.com to be specific. On a whim I started an account in late 2007 because my dear friend Martha had done so and after a dating hiatus of 18 months, I thought it was high time to actively start pursuing my vocation. See I had a very unhealthy relationship in college that really did some emotional damage to me and I needed to just have some Me and Jesus time to heal all those wounds. That Jesus, man He works wonders when you let Him in!
So, I started my account, posted pictures, thought WAY TOO LONG about my profile page and spent WAY too many hours looking at pictures and profiles of prospective husbands (yes I say husbands, I was done dating for "fun"...never leads to anything Holy. Never Ever.) I searched all of the DC/MD/NOVA (Northern VA for those not familiar) and met a guy. Chatted with him but it turned out he was still head over heels for his ex and I became a relationship counselor. Not what I had in mind. So I expanded my search to 250 miles from my zip code... and guess who popped up? Mr. Mark Gruber! :)
For those unfamiliar with the way Catholic Match works, you are able to see who has viewed your profile, which I liked and disliked equally. Part of me wanted to browse unencumbered but another part got excited when my profile was viewed by someone I found interesting. Well, I saw Mark's profile picture (cute!) and the first two lines of his profile went something like this, "Third of 14 kids, previously married, annuled, have a 4 year old daughter, am an engineer and I live in Pittsburgh, PA." My reaction was 14 kids?? That woman is a saint! (and she is, she really really is) I wonder how many kids he wants, aside from the one he already has. And where the heck is Pittsburgh (cut me some slack...I'm an East Coast girl who was never good at Geography. I knew Philly and that was all). So I viewed his profile, he saw my view and being the gentleman that he is, wrote me the first email. That weekend of the first email was also my BFF Jen's birthday and we celebrate birthdays for DAYS, sometimes weeks, so emailing was not on the top of my list. But, as soon as the festivities came to a close, I emailed back, apologizing for my delayed response and thus began our daily communication.
We had been emailing for about 10 days when I had major knee surgery and was LAID UP on the couch for a good 2 weeks. Since Mark worked on his computer 90% of the time, our emailing became more frequent and talking on the phone was brought up. I figured we had disclosed some pretty personal info over email (divorce, annulment, Samantha for him, faith struggles, family/housemate problems, major medical problems for me) that chatting on the phone didn't seem like such a big deal. So, one night he called and of course I was in the SHOWER! All day I had been giddy and waiting to hear what his voice sounded like and I miss the call! Every girl knows what I am talking about...that first phone call. :) I work up the nerve to call him back and BAM, he answers. His voice was music to my ears. The voice behind the 1000s of words I had read, the words that made me fall in love with this man. Oh I was as smitten as smitten could be and we HIT. IT. OFF that first phone call. Talked for almost 2 hours. I had to work early that next morning and we were coming to a close and you know what he did, he asked me to PRAY WITH HIM! I was floored. Deal sealed. I knew this man was the man I was supposed to marry. Yes, I am aware we hadn't met in person, but when you know you know!
About a week later, I am driving home from Physical Therapy and I get a call from Mark asking if I had plans for the following day.
"Um, no...why?" Mind you, we lived 248 miles apart (crazy right, the search on the computer was 250 miles...2 miles farther away and I wouldn't have met my match!) and wouldn't have made plans on Friday at 6pm for the next day.
"Well, I'm driving back from SC and thought my friend Beacham and I would swing by so we could meet." (Swing by actually meant drive 3 hours out of their way but that's what we'll do for love!)
"Sure, that'd be great" said the me that has no spontaneous bones in her body and plans are made days if not weeks in advance! Commence freak out! What to wear, where to meet, over analyze everything I had written or said in the last month, oh and not to mention I was on crutches with a giganticly swollen left knee and couldn't walk more than 10 feet without needing a break. And a turtle would have beaten me in a speed race. Great first impression!
So I was brave and decided to let him meet me at my house (one of my house mates was home, don't worry. Although she was. She thought he was going to abduct me!). I smile now looking back at the first meeting. I was all dolled up in a Polo button down, nice jeans, hair done and he was in an old work t-shirt, work jeans, worn out sneakers and he hadn't shaved in at least a week, which for him means full grown beard and neck beard! This epitomizes our personalities! He had also been testing equipment for his job in the factory and field for a week and I soon learned he never bothered with shaving while traveling. He was ruggedly handsome, irresistibly charming, perfectly patient and I was hooked. All three of us went out to a late lunch, then headed to Adoration for a bit (major score for him!) and then to Panera for coffee/smoothies (it was Saturday evening during Lent, I had given up anything but water and milk with breakfast and he wanted to treat me to my vice!). As we walked from Panera to the car, knowing that he was driving the 4 hours back to Pittsburgh, and as I used his arm to support myself (remember the bum knee?), I thought to myself, please don't go! Please don't let this be the last time we see each other. Please be "the one"! And he was. He is. He will always be.
Happy Anniversary my love.