It’s our anniversary, so I’m going to tell you our story.
It was the summer of 2001. I had spent all summer working weekends in an ER and spending the weekdays at the lake with my daughters and our dog. Every weekend I dropped them (the kids, not the dog) at their dad’s, worked two 12 hour night shifts, picked them up on Monday morning and headed back to the lake. We spent all week walking in the woods, floating in the lake and doing whatever we wanted. When summer was over and the kids had to go back to school, the ER manager asked if I could work some extra shifts during the week. So, I picked up a random Tuesday night.
Meanwhile, on that same random Tuesday, Joe picked up an extra shift on an ambulance. When he and his partner arrived on a scene to pick up a patient, Joe stepped out of the ambulance into (he would soon discover) a hole that was concealed by overgrown grass. He twisted his ankle. I don’t know all of the details of how the fire department handles these situations. Someone had to take Joe to the ER and someone else had to take his place transporting the original patient. What I do know is that they brought him to my ER.
When I saw a firefighter in uniform in the waiting room, with an ice pack on his ankle, I couldn’t resist making fun of him. “You’re supposed to bring the patient, not be the patient.”
I checked on him frequently between my other patients. He must have been there a long time because we talked quite a bit. When he told me what firehouse he was working in that night, I told him that I went to the high school right behind that house. He said that he went to that school too. Um… what? I didn’t believe him, but it was true. We went to the same high school and didn’t know each other.
I also learned that, in addition to the fire department, he served in the Air National Guard and would be shipping out for a two week deployment in a few days. On my birthday. To Hawaii.
What I didn’t know then, is that Joe is very shy the first time he meets someone. So the fact that he talked to me at all was amazing. But asking for my phone number when he was discharged from the ER… that was a miracle!
September 11th had an effect on everyone. For some of us, it accelerated our relationships. Another side effect was that people were afraid to fly, so flights were pretty inexpensive. Joe wanted to take advantage of the cheap flights and show me Hawaii. We left Memphis on a cold, rainy Valentine’s Day and a few hours later we were in warm, sunny Hawaii. Two days later, we rented a convertible and drove along the coast. In the words of Adele, “it was just like a movie, it was just like a song.” I said, “This place is so romantic. Are you sure you don’t want to get married while we’re here?” He said “OK.” That was not the proposal of my dreams, but it’s how we became engaged.
It was a weekend, and the following Monday was a federal holiday. It would be Tuesday before we could find out if we could get married there. Yes, we could. We got a marriage license. One phone call got us a location, preacher, and photographer. I got my nails done and ordered flowers. We bought rings and a dress.
On Thursday morning, the same day we were scheduled to leave Hawaii, six months to the day after we met, we stood at the base of Diamondhead and got married. This weekend, we’ll celebrate the 14 wonderful years that have passed since that day and the many more to come.