Who doesn’t love a good love story? From The Notebook to Romeo and Juliet everyone has their favorite! This may sound the cheesiest of cheesy, but my favorite love story is mine!
Let’s go back to August of 2004, I was in the thick of maintenance chemotherapy for leukemia and stepping on to a charter bus to go to camp for a week. Not just any camp, I was on my way to Camp Fantastic, a week-long camp for kids with cancer! I remember getting off the bus, meeting my counselor Anita and heading to our room to get settled. When we arrived at our room, a lively counselor, Ann, came through our joining room door and declared, “We are one room!” That week Ann and I quickly realized we were kindred spirits.
It was during that week, Ann mentioned she had a son, Patrick, that was my age. As a self-proclaimed “boy crazy” teen I asked if she had a picture of him and she showed me a blurry picture of a boy in a baseball cap. I saw his picture and said, “Oh my god, he is so cute!”
I continued to see Ann over the next year at family weekends and we remained close friends. It wasn’t until a year and a half later that I came face to face with Patrick. My mom often reminisces on that fateful moment when we locked eyes, she always says something like, “there were fireworks” or “the earth moved”. I just remember feeling like I had found a long-lost friend. That night we stayed up talking until 4:00 in the morning just catching up. The next day we went our separate ways and said, “see you later.”
That “later” would be that following summer at Camp Fantastic! It was my last year as a camper and Patrick’s first year as a counselor. The week of fun flew by and ended with Patrick and I innocently holding hands during the magnificent fireworks at the last campfire.
After Camp Fantastic we kept in touch, but there was a big barrier standing in our way; distance. At the time, I lived in Virginia Beach, VA and he lived in Harrisburg, PA. That’s 320 miles between us! So, we talked on the phone, visited each other a couple of times, but we were both starting to feel like the distance, for our age, was too much.
During the next 2 years we saw each other during camp and at camp weekends, but we were dating other people, so remained friends. It was during this time Patrick’s mom, Ann, and I became super close, more like family.
Finally, in 2008, We decided distance didn’t matter anymore; that we were meant to be! We were in absolute bliss, until our world stopped spinning and came crashing down: my leukemia had returned and in 2010 I received a life-saving stem cell transplant.
During my transplant Patrick never faltered. He always loved me, supported me, made me smile, and lifted me up. His calm nature balanced the hard and scary times of transplant.
Special Love has been the constant centripetal force in our relationship. We met, grew together, and even got engaged at camp! And on October 29th, 2016 our camp family helped us celebrate our wedding day!
The best part? My camp family (Ann) became my actual family!
To read more stories like this go to www.specialove.org