Our first date was in March of 2005. It was a blind date in Fredricksburg. Prior to that day, we had spent countless hours on the phone after being set up. After the first night of talking to him until four in the morning, I went to work that day and told another teacher that he was the one. (I think she thought I was crazy. :) However, on our first date I was not too impressed with Mr. Personality. He loved to tell people it was because of his tapered jeans and purple Hardin-Simmons rain jacket... this is NOT the reason I was unimpressed. On the phone, he was himself, very charming and fun, but on our first date he was nervous and very shy. I thought he was a dud and I didn't think it was going to go much farther than this.
He did call again though, and our conversations went back to the fun talks we had had before our first meeting. We had our second date in Junction, Texas in a gas station and it went great! :) The gas station had a great little barbeque restaurant and we had great conversations again. After that we spent weekend after weekend together in either San Antonio, Abilene or Dallas.
In April he decided that I was not the one and he broke it off. Then in May he realized that he had made a mistake, but at this point I was done with him. (There is funny story here but I am already getting too long winded.) In June, he came to Dallas and hung out with my friends and I. When he left, I went with two of my best friends to get ice cream and told them I didn't think I was interested in him. They told me that they thought he was great...perfect for me and I needed to wait until July...if I still felt this way then I could break it off for good. I agreed and by July I knew that we would be married. He proposed under the Century Tree at Texas A&M (also a good story that I will save for later) and we married in June of 2007.
During all of our wedding plans, my mom was an integral part of helping me get everything in order. When I was a freshman in college she had been in intensive care in critical condition with kidney failure, but the Lord had miraculously healed her and she was doing much better. She began dialysis a few years before I met DJ and had to go to treatments for 4 hours, 3 times a week... definitely not fun, but the reason she was still alive. My mom and I were very close and I spent almost everyday with her during that time before DJ and I were married. On our wedding day, she looked the best she had looked in years. Little did we know, in less than a year she would be gone. As I look back I can see the Lord's plan through it all. He gave me DJ before he brought her home to be with him. His plans are truly perfect.
By May of 2007, we had only been married about a year and my mom began the downward spiral in health. We spent our entire summer driving back and forth from Abilene to San Antonio. I truly believe that we spent more time in San Antonio than Abilene during those months from May - November. We struggled with many major decisions that most people don't have to deal with until they are much older. That May, my mom suffered a stroke. At 27 years old I was responsible for finding her a nursing home and then dealing with all the paperwork, as well as getting her moved in. I worked really hard to decorate her room so that it felt homey. They other people at the nursing home called it the "fancy room." When her mental illness (she had battled bi-polar disorder for years) became an issue and the nursing home could no longer keep her and we had to find another place for her. In addition, she began refusing to go to her dialysis treatments, which was keeping her alive. Since she was not receiving this treatment it exacerbated her mental illness greatly. Knowing that we were unable to safely care for her in our home (since we both spent our days at work) we struggled to find a place that would take her. This story has many more details than I won't elaborate on here, but the gist of it is that nursing homes would not take her because of the mental illness and mental health facilities would not take her because she was medically unstable. We finally convinced her to go with us to University Hospital because this is a hospital that cannot refuse patients. Praying that the hospital would keep her long enough to stabilize her, we sat in the emergency room for hours. Finally, it became clear to the hospital that she was not mentally competent and she received a room. What a horrible night that I will save you the details of hearing. The hospital kept her for all of July because they too could not find a facility that could care for her. She was deemed mentally incapable of making the decision to quit dialysis; however, the hospital could not force her to receive her dialysis treatments. We sat in meeting after meeting with doctors and hospital administration coming to the realization that no one was capable of helping us and that it would be just a matter of time before she died of kidney failure. In August, she was released from the hospital to a place called the Haven House for mental health patients. By October she had deteriorated greatly and needed to go into hospice care. I cannot say enough good things about hospice. She spent a few weeks of hospice in my grandmother's house and then it became neccesary to move her to a hospice facility. What an amazing place during such a difficult time. We spent the short amount of time before she passed by her bedside during the days. At this point she had become non-responsive. On November 5th, we went home for the night to get some rest and received the phone call that she had passed at 4am on November 6th (DJ's 33rd birthday). DJ and I along with my sister and her husband immediately went to her hospice room and spent about an hour by her bedside before the funeral home came to remove her body. This was a sweet time of closure for us. Later that day we had to identify the body and begin preparation for the memorial service. How difficult this was... I planned a good part of the memorial on my own. I had no idea how to do this and after the fact many people had opinions about what should have been done. I wanted to say that I would have appreciated their help then! Through it all DJ was amazing. It is so obvious to me that the Lord put him in my life at just the right time. Without my sweet husband, I have no idea how I could have made it through all of that. I am so extremely thankful for the amazing blessing of DJ in my life. Even though his 33rd birthday was a rough one to say the least, I can see what a blessing it was for her to pass on this significant day. Each year as this day passes, I can joyfully reflect on an amazing woman but also spend the day celebrating the life of the man God created me to spend my life with.