Of Grand Openings, Tragedies, and Conversations


Poppy, who left us in May 2014

After the March reunion, we all went back to our states and back to the realness of life. The week had been great, good-byes not fun, but knew we would be seeing each other again shortly- most likely in June if I was able to snag a Grand Opening in Cali as a trainer for new team members. We had decided calls would be once a week, and starting off, would initially be kept accountable by Cassie’s parents listening in to what we spoke of. Seriously folks, in those sometimes four hour phone calls we talked about everything you can imagine… Theology, family matters, holidays, standards, convictions, strengths, weaknesses, fears, loves, struggles, trials, victories, and movies. We strove to be as comprehensive and honest as possible with each other, as communicating on the phone was pretty much the only thing we had at that time. We went through a book together, and prayed together often.

As things moved on, accountability shifted to more of us telling our parents what we spoke of, and less of them listening to every word we said to each other. We both were intentional and responsible to remain above reproach in every area, and as we build and demonstrated this, more trust was built between each other, and our families. While this all built through the summer up to July, things still remained as void of emotion as possible- again, on my end. I had spent years building walls to protect from undesired or inappropriate feelings towards romanticness, and little by little was taking those walls down as the conversations progressed. Still very cautious, but also intellectually open, sharing who I was as honestly as possible.

While the conversations were tough at times, and hilarious in others, we continued to grow in knowing just exactly who the other was. Yes, we were two year old friends who had talked almost everyday, but in this new approach, there were things we simply had never talked about or touched on, since there wasn’t any need. One call a week developed to two calls… and we just kept on talking, going through all the questions we had for each other, and both learning exactly what it meant to pursue the other intentionally.

In May, tragedy happened upon both our families. The first week of May, Cassie’s Poppop passed away, and it was the first time I remember actually feeling her pain. I barely knew him, but was deeply saddened to hear of his passing. I remember calling her that day and trying to be there, albeit 2000 miles away. It was tough for her entire family, as it was unexpected and incredibly sudden.

Then, just the week after. To the day. I got a call from mom while I was at work, simply telling me in weeping tears “Poppy is gone.” I was to shocked to be sad initially. Poppy was healthy, strong, and had just had a convo with him that morning about getting a clock fixed. Why would he be gone? We found later he had a massive heart attack, and went just like Cassie’s Poppop- incredibly sudden and unexpected. That month was hard on all of us, and I remember Cassie trying to be there for me in my circumstance, just like I was in hers. And gosh, I miss poppy.

May rolled into June and good news came that I would be able to train at a CFA Grand Opening in Cali, just 45min away from where Cassie lived. It was a much needed trip and meeting after the sorrows of May. While in Cali for two weeks, Cassie and I were able to get together a few times when I did not have work and talk- in person- about where we were at in our relationship. Those talks were so nice, whether they were on the couch on their porch, or walking on the beach in the evening. I hung out with their family, played mousetrap with the siblings, and really just had a super enjoyable time with them all. I also had an excellent conversation with Mr. Rhoden, and we gave each other feedback on how we were doing in this whole process. That visit was incredibly refreshing, and pretty much perfect in every way… That I remember at least.

Cassie and I were reaching the end of all the topics we had to discuss, and I knew by the end of June I was going to marry this girl. I was beginning to feel about her in such a way I knew was only appropriate in a more committed fashion. I was beginning to love her- more than just a sister in Christ. I knew it was time to talk to Mr. Rhoden about one final question, and the opportune moment was just around the corner.

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