Mark and I first met online 4 years ago. I was in a bad relationship
in dire need for a good friend, and that's exactly what I found. He was supportive and ALWAYS there for me when I needed
him most. After my divorce, we discussed meeting in person and decided that we had nothing to lose. So on June
28, 2003, we met at O'Hare Airport in Chicago, IL. It was so exciting meeting the person I'd spent endless hours on
the computer with face to face. We hit it off wonderfully (as we knew we would), and spent a great week exploring the
city of Chicago and taking in the sights. We even spent our first 4th of July together taking in a Cubs/Cardinals game
at Rigley Field (the Cards won, of course!) We said goodbye for a few short days, but met up again when Mark came to
St. Louis for a short visit. He met my daughter and parents for the first time and got the opportunity to see where
I was from. In September 2003, he visited me for a second time. Although I was back teaching, we spent our week
together getting to know each other better. We spent a night out in St. Louis with my friends and had lots of fun together.
I was sad to see our week come to an end, but of course it was inevitable.
Our next meeting happened in November 2003. Mark and his parents
were coming over to New York City with his Nan to celebrate her birthday. Mark had given me plane tickets for my birthday
to fly out and meet them for a few days in the "Big Apple". It was so exciting to be in such an amazing place together,
plus I got the opportunity to meet his parents and Nan. We had a wonderful 3 days together!! We visited Liberty
Island to see the Statue of Liberty, went to the museum of immigration on Ellis Island, took a helicopter ride over the coastal
part of New York, did some shopping on 5th Ave. and 34th St., had a carriage ride around Central Park, went ice skating at
the Trump Rink, and saw the sad remains of the World Trade Centers. It was a once in a lifetime trip that I was so happy
to be taking with Mark and his family, and also more time spent growing together.
Mark visited again in December. We exchanged Christmas presents,
decorated my Christmas tree together, went to Rebekah's Christmas concert, and spent time with my family at my nephew's birthday
party. It was precious time spent with someone I was quickly realizing was someone very special and dear to my heart,
and saying goodbye was becoming increasingly more difficult!
Valentine's Day was definitely a holiday worthy of a visit from a loved one! Mark visited again in Febuary,
but this time for 2 weeks!! I was still working, but it was so so nice to come home to him! We spent lots of cold
nights cuddled up watching movies or T.V. together, talking, and laughing. A snow day even provided an extra day home
that was spent playing in the snow with Rebekah and relaxing. We also had my parents over for dinner, which
Mark cooked, and played Cranium until Bekah laughed so hard she wet her pants!! Valentine's Day was certainly a memorable
one! We went out to eat at the Melting Pot in St. Louis for a fondue feast!! It was so yummy. Then we spent
the night in the Westin. Mark had roses waiting for me in the room, and we exchanged our other gifts to each another.
I truly couldn't have asked for a sweeter or more romantic boyfriend! This time when we said goodbye I found it harder
than ever. The tears flowed, and I found myself feeling very sad coming home to an empty house after being spoiled for
two whole weeks.
Springtime brought another visit!! Mark visited again in April 2004.
Of course, I was STILL working, but we got a chance to do some fun stuff together. We took Bekah to the zoo, which was
a lot of fun. It was a beautiful day and we got to see all the animals out and about. We also took in another
Cardinals/Cubs game. This one at Busch Stadium, and let me just tell you what an exciting game it was!! We were
surrounded by obnoxious Cubs fans and the game was so close, but we ended up winning in the bottom of the 9th inning!
Yay Cards!! Afterwards, Mark and I spent an impromptu night at our favorite hotel, the Westin. I love how he does
things like that on a whim. It's definitely never boring or dull spending time with him. Although saying goodbye
was hard again, my trip to London was already planned for June, so we knew we'd be seeing each other again soon.
After much anticipation, I departed for London on June 14, 2004. This
would be my first trip to visit Mark, and I was overly excited. We spent 2 weeks doing tons of stuff. I got the
chance to meet his sister, Jacqueline for the first time, as well as the rest of his family. After arriving on Tuesday,
we were already off for a mini-getaway on Thursday to Paris. We took the EuroStar train to France, which was a pleasant
experience. Although our hotel room left a lot to be desired, we made the very best of our time there. We headed
out upon arrival to see the Eiffel Tower. It was absolutely amazing!! We went all the way to the top where the views
were spectacular. Then we walked around and had some delicious ice cream. That evening, we had a nice dinner
at a french restaurant Mark's dad had recommended. It was a delicious meal with great surroundings. Afterwards
we walked down to take some pictures and see the Eiffel Tower lit up at night. It was chilly out, but the view was breathtaking.
Mark suggested we take a walk down by the river. When we got down there, he got me to sit down on some steps that led
down to the water. Then getting down on his knee in front of me, he told me that he loved me, that he wanted to spend
the rest of his life with me, and asked me to marry him! It was so sweet and romantic, and of course I said YES!!
He presented me with a beautiful ring, and we shared a kiss under an illuminated Eiffel Tower. It was a moment I'll
We spent our second day in Paris squeezing in as much sight seeing as
possible. Visiting places I'd only ever heard about like the Arc de Triomphe, Musee D'Orsay, Sacre Couer, Notre Dame,
and the Lourve. It was amazing! The rest of my visit was spent with family and friends and
of course more sight seeing. His family had a BBQ on Father's Day. Here I got a chance to meet all the extended
family. They were all so nice and welcoming, which made me feel instantly comfortable and like part of the family.
We drove Mark's Gran home, which was along the coastal part of England. We did some sight seeing and spent a nice day
at the beach. We stayed the night at her home and had a very nice dinner the following afternoon before heading
Before I went home, Mark and I wanted to do some London sight seeing. Although the
weather was less than cooperative, we took a ride on the London Eye, a huge ferris wheel overlooking the city. It was
an amazing view, even if it was a bit windy and rainy. The following day, with the weather improved, we visited all
the other major sights of London including: Big Ben, the Houses of Parliment, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace,
St. Paul's Cathedral, Tower of London, Tower Bridge, and Trafalgar Square. Losing Mark's camera at Starbucks was a minor
setback, but we didn't let it ruin our day. The Saturday before I returned home we went out to a nice pub by the
river for drinks with all Mark's friends that I'd heard so much about. They were all so nice and we had a great time! I headed home on June 28th, which was sad, but Mark already had a trip planned for July and we were
Mark's trip in July was wonderful. He spent 2 and a half weeks
visiting this time, and I wasn't working for once!! We filled out all our paperwork for the K1 visa and sent it off.
We also discovered that what we thought would be a 3 month wait would now be more like 6 or 7 months. It was depressing
and frustrating, but we did what I'm sure everyone else in our situation is doing by keeping our heads held high and persuing
our dreams of a future together. It was such a weight off our shoulders as well to have this process under way.
This freed us up to enjoy ourselves by doing lots of fun things. We spent the day at the lake, went to Six Flags for
the day and stayed in a hotel overnight, visited the Arch and the City Museum, bought a grill together and did lots of BBQing,
went putt putt golfing and to the movies, spent time with my family, played at Dave and Buster's arcade, and all
importantly hunted for a wedding venue. This trip was just yet another reminder to both of us that the decision
we'd made to commit ourselves to one another was definitely the right choice. Saying goodbye was really really
hard, but we both kept reminding ourselves that the light at the end of the tunnel was getting closer and closer.
Mark visited again for a week in October. It was great
to see him again. With his birthday at the end of the month, it gave us a chance to celebrate early. I gave
him his presents, and we spent yet another night at our favorite hotel, The Westin. We also got the opportunity
to take in one of the Cardinals play-off games with my dad. It was freezing cold, but we had a good time.
In December, Mark visited again for Christmas and New
Years. This was our first Christmas together, which was very special. We opened presents with Bekah at home at
6:03 am!! Then wee spent the rest of the day at my parent's house opening presents, eating Christmas dinner,
shooting darts, and just having a great time together. Mark brought Christmas crackers along for us to break open
before dinner. It was cool to share an English tradition with him. We all looked ridiculous wearing the goofy
hats at dinner, but no one seemed to mind. We also took Bekah ice skating during Christmas
break. It was her first time ever. She was pretty good at it, but sadly got a blister on her heal.
Mark and I spent a quiet New Year's in eating pizza, watching movies, and playing games. It was great to get to spend
quality alone time with him. Our goodbye this time was a bit different. Our visa had been forwarded
on to London, so we knew this would be our final goodbye. Next time he arrives, it'll be on a one-way ticket!!
After a successful interview at the London Embassy, Mark entered
the U.S. on his fiance visa on March 11th. It was so exciting that he was finally here to stay and our wedding was quickly
approaching. I'd cleared out lots of closet space for him, so we got right to the unpacking and getting settled.
Although it still felt like he was "just visiting", it was awesome knowing that there was no countdown to another goodbye.
We were finally married at the Larimore Plantation House on April 29th.
Although "April showers" spoiled our plans of an outside wedding, it was a beautiful ceremony with our close friends and family
there to share it with. We were just so happy to finally be man and wife!! The reception was a blast with great
food and lots of dancing! It was very sad to see Mark's friends and family leave on Sunday but an inevitable event.
Luckily the internet has made it very easy to communicate, although I know it's not the same.
Since the wedding, we've been enjoying our summer together.
Since Mark's still awaiting his EAD and I'm on summer holiday, we've had LOTS of time to share together. We recently
got back from our first family vacation together. We spent a fun week in California visiting Disneyland, California
Adventure Park, Knott's Berry Farm, Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, and the beach!! It was so nice to get away from it all.
School is now about to start back up for both Bekah and I, and Mark will
soon be job hunting which should be very exciting. We'll be sure to keep everyone updated on what's new in our lives!!