By the time I arrived on campus in September Ked had already unpacked and settled into his dorm and his parents had headed home. While the campus was about 4 hours from my home, it was only an hour from Ked’s home. He greeted me with a big smile, a two-wheeled dolly, and a new short haircut that he hated. I grinned and told him that at the rate his hair grew it would be in his eyes again in no time. He had warned me about the haircut over the phone and in his last letter before college
Well, this will be the last letter to Lima for awhile I think that’s good! It was so good to talk to you yesterday. I can’t wait to do that every day!
You’re you’re right. Things will change between us. I can’t wait!
I woke up this morning hoping and praying that yesterday was just a dream. Every time I see a mirror, I get upset. Just another lesson God has taught me, or is teaching me. It just proves I used to think too much of my hair. Ok, so I’m learning.
He needn’t have worried. His thick hair grows so quickly that in a matter of a few weeks the long locks had returned. He had hair that made me jealous. It looked magazine-ready no matter how it was cut.
Ked and Ryan helped my parents and I unload the van full of my belongings into the dorm room I was sharing with Karon. I spent the afternoon settling into my new home away from home.
That first week of school we celebrated our one year dating anniversary. Ked sent me an email that morning – something new for us!
Subject: Sweet Love
Can you believe it’s been a whole year? I could never thank our Lord enough for how He has worked in our relationship! Our God is so GOOD ! I pray he will continue to use us.
Amelia, what can I say? The past year has been the best. We have become so close. And I thank the Lord for that every day. I’m looking forward to knowing you even more, sharing all the joys, hurts and growing together. I’m looking forward to a year with my best friend. The year has just begun, and you’ve challenged me in so many ways. I’m amazed to see how God continues to use you in my life. My prayer is that you will always stay sensitive to the will of the Holy Spirit and continue to walk with our Saviour. He has a wonderful plan for you, and I look forward to seeing that unfold. Continue to walk with Him and seek His will and He WILL direct you path.
Even though we live next door, every minute I’m away from you seems like eternity. I don’t think I could ever get enough of those brown eyes.
Later that day, we took a long walk around the campus pond holding hands until we stopped by a willow tree. He pulled me underneath the willow’s long weeping branches, still green with summer. A year. It was hard to believe. A year of distance, letters, phone calls. A year of waiting. A year of growing. A year of learning so much about each other. We’d made it. And now a new chapter was about to begin. Ked pulled a small jewelry box out of his pocket and handed it to me with a small grin. I opened it and gasped at two small pearl earrings surrounded by a swirl of gold. “Oh, thank you! They are so beautiful!” I reached up and gave him a big hug. He looked down at me and said, “I’m a poor college student now, so this may be the last gift for awhile.” I smiled up at him and said, “I get to see you every day now. That’s all the gift I need!”
What he lacked in money he made up for in creativity. Once a group of us went exploring downtown Grand Rapids and found ourselves wandering through the beautiful Amway Grand Plaza hotel. We were admiring the expanse of flower arrangements and people-watching as guests came in and out dressed in their finest. Carriages pulled up and took couples on leisure rides throughout the city. As we walked past a particularly large flower arrangement on a hall table, Ked snatched a yellow carnation out of the back of the arrangement and gave it to me with a flourish. The girls that were in the group giggled “Oh, how sweet!” My eyes got as round as saucers and looked around expecting a security guard to arrive asking for their flower back. I was a follow-the-rules, don’t-rock-the-boat kind of gal. He was stretching me already. He attempted to ease my nervousness, “It’s a huge arrangement. They’ll never notice one flower is gone. They probably change these every couple days anyway!” I clutched the yellow carnation close the rest of our evening out.
One cold winter weekend my dorm phone rang and when I picked it up I heard Ked on the other line. “Hurry! Come quick! I have a present for you!” We were planning to go out on the town that evening and I was confused by his urgency. “Ok, just a minute, I’m almost ready.” He urged further, “No, come right now!!” Puzzled, I set the phone down and walked out into the entry way where he stood with an icicle that was at least a foot and a half round and as tall as he was. He stood there proud as a peach. “I can’t afford flowers, so I picked you an icicle!!” I laughed til I cried. He tossed the icicle out on the lawn and we headed out for the evening.
Not long after the school year started, Ked’s family invited me to a program they were doing in a nearby church. I sat in a cold metal folding chair while the six of them set up their elaborate puppet stage, organized their puppets, set up the sound system and did a sound check. It was obvious they had done this for a couple decades. I sat in the audience laughing with the rest of the kids as the family shared God’s love in creative and memorable manners. My favorite part of the program was a 6 foot tall brown bear named Howard. I got a private meeting with him after the show. When Ked was old enough and tall enough he had assumed the role of the ministry’s mascot – Howard the Bear. Prior to Ked, the role had always belonged to his Dad. The passing of the torch was significant. At first Ked was terrified to be out from behind the safety and seclusion of the puppet stage, even if he was still covered by six feet of brown fur. But after the first time donning the suit, he was hooked. After the show, He disappeared behind the curtain and donned the suit just for me. I remember his Mom beaming as Howard came out to greet his “honey.” We chatted for a few minutes and I relished seeing this side of him – an overgrown, loveable teddy bear.
They disassembled the puppet stage with an air of solemnity. I’d heard whispers that this was the last program they’d do as a family. With both Karon and Ked in college it was impossible for them to travel as they did when they lived at home. Over the past couple years, Ked’s Dad had started to travel by himself developing a program that no longer involved the puppet stage but was built around magic, juggling and storytelling. It was again, the end of an era. Having just experienced the same with my Dad a month or two prior, I understood the mix of emotions. I respected the years and the history that this one last program represented. I was thankful to have been invited to share the moment.