On Monday November 3rd, I was a mixture of anxious and excited to see Charles. Everything in me had hopes that Charles was feeling the same way I was, and wanted to start a romantic relationship. But there was still a small part of me that feared that he just wanted to be friends.
After my first class Monday morning, I met up with Charles in the main hallway of our community college. Seeing Charles with a huge smile on his face gave me immense butterflies. I was falling in love with him minute by minute.
We sat down in the student center and discussed everything that we had already talked about over the weekend. We talked about any previous relationships we had had, what we wanted out of a romantic relationship and our intentions. We discussed boundaries, values, expectations a potential timeline and anything and everything in between. We then decided to take a day to think about everything we discussed as well as pray about it, before moving forward and officially start dating.
On Tuesday November 4th, Charles and I met in the cafe of our community college before Spanish class. Charles asked me to be his girlfriend. I said yes and we officially entered into a courtship (dating with the intention of marriage). We decided we did not want to rush things. We didn’t want to immediately say I Love You, hold hands or be too close. We also wanted to save our first kiss for if and when we got married. Together we decided we wanted to use this time to get to know each other, grow closer to God and be the best people we could be in school, in our families and in our relationship.
After we made it official, we gave each other a hug, took a selfie, bought two frappes and walked to Spanish completely head over heels.
About two weeks later, Charles invited me to celebrate Thanksgiving with his family. Even though it was casual, I was very nervous for this family gathering. I decided to bring a plate of brownies to the meal, in hopes that it would help to make a good first impression to his family.
Charles was living at his Pastor’s house at the time we started dating. When I arrived and met his pastor, I instantly felt welcomed and at home. Throughout the day I was also able to meet his nieces and nephews as well as his sister and other close family friends.
At this family gathering, I was able to get a little taste of an old fashioned southern Thanksgiving. The food was amazing. There was fried chicken, turkey, ham, cabbage, black eyed peas, macaroni and cheese, corn, and mashed potatoes. It was amazing. The best part of the day was his nieces and nephews. My brownies were a huge hit with his family and even one of his nephews said they were “divine”
Celebrating our first holiday together was a lot of fun, and definitely one for the books.
This post was written a year ago, and though a year has passed, I still believe it holds some truth today.
It’s okay to not be okay… and today I am not okay. A year ago today I was happy. I went to a doctor appointment that I thought would leave me joyous and thankful. Instead, it left me with every emotion imaginable, and this is when my grief first began. I was 11 weeks pregnant. I was supposed have an ultrasound and hear my baby’s heartbeat for the very first time. Instead I heard the words “I’m so sorry, we can’t find a heartbeat.” Instead of feeling joyous, I left feeling empty and broken.
My life changed that day. I became an angel mommy. I had to learn how to let go of a child that I fell in love with but didn’t get to meet. I learned who my true friends and family were. I learned how incredibly common pregnancy loss is, even though no one talks about it. I learned that there are good people in the healthcare system who go above and beyond for their patients. I also learned how the healthcare system let’s so many women like me down. I learned how to grieve, how to live, and how to be happy again. It wasn’t easy, and trust me… I’m still working on it.
Grief is a burden that we all have to deal with in this life. There is no telling how or when you’ll go through it. But we grieve because we love. It hurts because we don’t want to say goodbye. It’s confusing because we don’t know how to handle it until it happens. But more often than not grief brings people together. Whether it’s losing a parent, losing a sibling, losing a friend, losing a child, losing a neighbor, a coworker or even someone well known… it hurts, and it unifies us.
So today I am not okay. I am giving myself permission to grieve my baby. I’m not going to feel guilty for not being my best today. I’m going breathe, rest and remember what I had before I had to say goodbye, and that’s okay.
I love you Mackenzie! Daddy and I miss you so much. 💕
Over the next few weeks, Charles and I continued going on dates over the weekends and texting late every night. We quickly developed a very innocent and special friendship. On our second date, Charles and I enjoyed a beautiful autumn stroll in the park. After the date, Charles got to meet my dad. It was honestly, just as awkward as I expected. Charles was a true gentleman and introduced himself to my dad. My dad made jokes, tried to be intimidating and asked Charles many, many questions.
After the awkward meeting with my dad, we joined my parents at our local pizza parlor. Charles and I both ordered pizza calzones, that were bigger than our heads. I took two bites of it, and had to get a to-go box, as I was way too nervous to eat. Regardless, of my nerves and the occasional embarrassing moments at dinner, it was all-in-all a good date.
About a week before Halloween, Charles and I were texting late in the evening. I asked Charles something that had been on my mind for awhile, that I didn’t know how to bring up.
Kaylee: So, what do you think we are to each other?
Charles: What do you mean?
Kaylee: I mean do you think we’re friends or special friends?
Charles: I don’t know. I’ve never really had a best friend before. But yeah. I guess we’re friends.
As I texted Charles, I realized I wasn’t being completely clear as to what I was asking, therefore he didn’t know how to answer my question.
Kaylee: Do you see this going further?
I realized I was still being vague, but I was too chicken to come out and say You want to be boyfriend and girlfriend? I am also old school and felt it was his job to ask me… even though, I was dying to know.
Charles: I’m not sure.
I ended up changing the subject to something else. I was afraid I would scare him away with my questions and felt embarrassed for even bringing it up. I told myself I wasn’t going to bring it up again, I was just going to let things play out.
On Halloween, my friend Andrea and I made a spur of the moment trip to her family’s cabin up north. We planned to leave Friday, after I got out of work at 5. I told Charles I was going and he was very excited for us. My mom and Charles took me to Andrea’s house so we could leave right away. It was very exciting to have a guy see me off on a trip,
When my mom dropped me off, I gave her a hug as she told me to be safe and have fun. Charles helped me with my bags and walked me to the front porch. There was a slightly awkward moment as he looked at me, not sure how to say goodbye. He said…
“Well, I hope you have a great time. Be safe, and I will see you when you get back.” He smiled at me, not sure what to do next. Again, I was sheltered, and homeschooled. This was all new to me. Not only was this awkward because we were obviously both smitten and staring at each other, but my mom was also watching from the car, and Andrea and Alli’s dogs were barking at us from the window. Thankfully, Andrea opened the door, and the dogs ran out to greet us, which broke the awkward moment. Andrea said hi to Charles, and they had a quick get to know you conversation.
Charles and I again stared at each other. Charles put his arms out, as if to offer a hug. I gave Charles a hug, and fell even more for this guy that had become such a good friend, and huge presence in my life. We said goodbye, and I walked into the house.
Alli was standing at the counter, out of breath as if she had just ran three miles. She told me she had frantically cleaned because she wasn’t sure if Charles was going to come inside. I found it so funny, that she tried to make a good first impression for the guy that I liked.
On the way to the cabin, I told Andrea all about Charles. I told her about how we met, the different dates we had been on, taking Spanish together and everything in between. Of course, I had told her all of these stories before, but I couldn’t help but talk about them over and over again.
We arrived at the cabin around midnight. We unloaded our bags, filled the wood stove and ate a quick dinner. We spent the evening talking and updating each other on life. From the moment we left for the cabin, the whole trip felt like it was going to be special and truly unforgettable.
The next morning, I woke up to the smell of brewing coffee, and the sound of Christmas music, flooding the cabin. It was officially November, so Andrea was quick to turn on the Christmas music. The first full day at the cabin, I’m pretty sure we did some thrift store shopping, and admired the beautiful changing leaves of November.
Later in the afternoon, Andrea and I drove to the nearest small town store that was famous for its’ jerky, and was at least a half hour away. Before leaving, I asked Andrea if we should unplug the space heater. She said we shouldn’t have to because it was relatively safe and could be left on for hours if need be.
Before leaving, I prayed everything would be ok, and then we took off to the store. While at the store I bought a bunch of jerky for my family and Charles. We spent probably 20 minutes at the store, and then headed back to the cabin.
After unloading and arriving in the cabin, we both smelled smoke. Andrea checked the kitchen and all was good. We both headed into the bedroom and noticed the space heater was not on even though we left it on. We immediately went to the outlet, and noticed that the plug melted into the outlet. Andrea quickly unplugged it and said “Thank God”
After putting away the meat and getting in comfy clothes, I called my parents to tell them what had happened. My dad answered and after hearing my story, told me he was glad everything was okay. I hung up from him and helped Andrea open windows to get smoke out of the cabin.
A few minutes later my mom called in a panic and said “Kaylee you really should call the fire department and have them check out the wall. That is how our house fire started. There was fire in the wall.” After thinking about it, she was right. I went into the bedroom and touched the wall just above the outlet. It was still hot. I then hung up from my mom, told Andrea what my mom said and called 911.
When the dispatcher asked for the cabin address, Andrea read it to me off her gps on her phone. After hanging up from the dispatcher, Andrea and I scrambled to put our clothes and other belongings away since they were laid out all over. As you can guess, we were not expecting company.
After putting our things away, Andrea and I stood on the front porch waiting for the fire department. A few minutes later, the dispatcher called me back and said “Hi, I’m sorry but the firefighters are having a hard time finding your cabin. Where are you located?” I repeated the address to her and she told me the firefighters are at that location and it seems to be the wrong house. She then suggested I run down to the end of the driveway to see if I could see them. Once I headed down the driveway and reached the road, I looked both ways. There were no signs of the fire engine.
I continued talking to the dispatcher trying to explain where we were at. She asked “Are you sure that is the address” I then remembered seeing the address numbers on the porch and read them off to her. Come to find out we were a number off and they really did go to the wrong house. Oops. Andrea stayed on the front porch and I headed back down the driveway trying to spot the fire engine. Once I spotted the fire engine slowly coming down the road, I told the dispatcher and hung up.
Once the fire fighters pulled into the driveway, Andrea and I decided we needed to just play dumb and innocent because we were already super embarrassed. When the first firefighter got out of the rig he said “You guys need to learn how to read an address.” He was so mad, but he had a point. At the time I felt bad, but now I can laugh about it.
They checked out the cabin to make sure it was safe. They checked out the wood stoves as well as the outlet where the fire happened. They took a thermal imaging camera to check the temperature of the wall and it was around 100° and going down. It was likely just a faulty plug. By then I knew we were going to be okay. As the firefighters left, we apologized multiple times for the confusion and thanked them for their help.
After the firefighters left, I texted Charles and told him what happen. Charles called me immediately to make sure I was okay. I felt a bit awkward talking on the phone, as I had never heard his voice over the phone before. I found it very sweet Charles called to check on Andrea and I. After getting off the phone with Charles, we continued texting. Charles took me completely by surprise at where he directed the conversation.
Charles: Do you think we’re more than friends?
I was completely taken a back and had no idea what to say.
Kaylee: I consider you a very good friend. Why?
Charles: I’d like to think that your my girlfriend. What do you think?
Kaylee: I’d like to be your girlfriend.
At the time, I had no idea how deeply focused I was in my texting conversation with Charles. Andrea asked me what was going on and why I was smiling so much. I started blushing and tried so hard not to get ahead of myself. I told her everything and tried to stay calm and use caution. It was at this point that I realized that I needed to be completely honest and up front with my boundaries, values and expectations when it came to dating, and being pursued by a man.
I told Charles how I had never had a boyfriend before. I had never been kissed and never even held hands with a guy. I also expressed to him that I was not one to be quick in giving my heart away. I had always wanted to be in a courtship and go into a relationship with the intention of marriage, instead of just dating to date. I wanted to date with a purpose, and I wanted to be in a relationship that was honoring to God. After expressing this to Charles, I knew it was going to be either make it or break it. He was either going to be completely on board or I would completely scare him off. I nervously waited for his response.
Charles: Okay, I can understand that. I would like to talk more about this on Monday before class.
That night, I stayed up late talking to Andrea. I went over every scenario of how Monday would play out between Charles and I. I worried that I had scared Charles off, and he just wanted to tell me in person. I worried that I was going to try and end things on Monday because I wanted to avoid getting hurt. I worried that even if things continued into a relationship, that it still may not end in marriage, but with heartbreak.
Before going to sleep, Andrea said something that gave peace. She said:
“With love there is always a risk. Yes you could start a relationship and break up or you could start a relationship and eventually get married. Either way there is a risk, and there is no guarantee you won’t get hurt. But no matter what decision you make, I’ll support you.” Andrea said a quick prayer and we both fell asleep.
The next day, Andrea and I took a quick hike near the cabin, packed up and headed home. On the way home we continued talking about boys, listening to Christmas music, and enjoyed the end of our much needed girl’s weekend away. For the rest of Sunday, I pondered how things would happen when Charles and I would find each other and have our Define the Relationship talk Monday morning.
A few weeks went by, and Charles and I began talking and getting to know each other in class and through text. I tried very hard not to get my hopes up or read into anything. As a very reserved, previously homeschooled girl, I had never had this kind of friendship with a guy before. Because of this I was constantly questioning, what does this mean? Is Charles interested in me as more of a friend, or does he just want to be friends?
I was secretly asking myself these questions daily. As much as I wanted to be pursued I tried to stay grounded and enjoy this season of friendship and what ever it lead to. I was quite content in this thinking for awhile, until Charles would say things that would throw me off. For example, he would casually mention how we should hang out sometime outside of school. Or our professor would say something about food, and Charles would say that we should go together sometime. Because he said these things so often, I was under the impression it was his way of asking me out. But I also doubted myself, and thought I was just reading too much into it.
When ever Charles would mention, hanging out and going out to eat together, I never really answered him. I wasn’t answering him to be mean, I just didn’t know if he was serious or what we were to each other. At the time we really hadn’t had a define the relationship talk. All I knew is that, I was really starting to like Charles, maybe even more than a friend.
One Thursday morning in October, I headed to my Spanish class. I got to the door when I noticed a note saying our class was cancelled. I was super excited to not have class, and have extra time to work on some homework. I started to text Charles to let him know class was cancelled, when I saw him making his way down the stairs. He was walking and talking with another female classmate.
I’m not going lie. When I saw him, I was crushed. I told myself I got my hopes up for nothing. He’s just a friendly guy. He probably just wants to be friends. He’s not interested in me in the way I was hoping.
The three of us looked at the note. Charles was mad our professor didn’t email us, and he came to school for nothing. Our other classmate decided to go home, and it was just Charles and I standing in the hallway.
Despite the fact that I was questioning our friendship, I still really wanted to spend time with Charles. Charles said he had nothing to do for three hours until his next class. I had work in two hours. I knew it would be a wise decision to go find a quiet spot in the library and catch up on some homework. But, my gut and my heart told me to ask Charles to hang out. I almost didn’t say anything. But I knew the worst he could say was no, so I gave it a shot.
“I have a couple hours before I have to go to work, do you want to hang out in the student center?” My voice was shaky, but I was trying so hard to be brave.
“Okay” Charles said smiling. We then headed to the student center. I was dangerously smitten, still not sure what to think.
The intention was to sit in the student center, grab a bite to eat, have some light convesation and do some homework. That did not happen. Charles and I sat for two hours talking. I forgot to eat and we never pulled out our homework. We talked about everything from school, to our faith, to childhood, to family, to friends, to food. Charles again mentioned that we should go out to eat sometime. I pondered his question for a moment. Since I was already feeling brave, I decided to give him an answer.
“Okay, we can go out. When would you like to do it?”
Charles seemed surprised that I actually said yes. It must have thrown him because he didn’t say anything for a minute. After a long pause he finally said,
“Sorry, I’ve never done this before.” He then seemed to get nervous and not sure what to do next. “Well, you said you’ve never tried indian food before, and there’s a new Indian restaurant that just opened. Would you like to go there?”
I told him yes. It then became kind of awkward as we ironed out the details. We discussed how this is considered a date for the both of us. Charles mentioned that he wanted to do it after he would get paid that Friday, and we determined a date and time.
Our first date was planned for Saturday October 10th at 6pm. This only gave us both two days to prepare. I was so excited but so incredibly nervous.
On Saturday morning, I did some studying and went out to brunch with my momma. We had a very enjoyable meal talking about boys, dating and just growing up. I was super thankful to have this time with my mom before my very first date.
Around 4pm I started to get anxious, and had no idea what to wear. I settled on wearing dress pants, a nice shirt and my favorite jean jacket. I also spruced up my outfit with a little bit of perfume and some jewelry.
After scheduling our date, I made arrangements with my best friends Andrea and Alli to also come to the restaurant we were going to eat at. I did this because 1) I still didn’t know Charles all that well and I wanted to make sure I had a way to leave the date if things went south. 2) I was extremely nervous, and felt it would help me knowing somebody I knew was nearby and 3) this was a first for me and I needed the support and a little gentle push from my friends.
Around 5:30, my mom drove me to the Indian restaurant where I was planning to meet Charles. On the way to the restaurant I continued blabbering on to my mom about how nervous I was. When we turned on to the street where the restaurant was I began I get huge butterflies. This is stupid. This is so stupid. Why am I doing this? Just when I was deep in my thoughts about this whole thing, my mom said…
“Oh look, I see your friend!?” And just like that sheer panick came over me. I freaked out and yelled to my mom.
“Ah, mom I’m not ready for this! Drive!” I startled her with my response, and she continued driving trying to calm me down. As we continued driving we passed Charles walking to the restaurant. I asked my mom to circle the block a few times, as I still needed a few minutes. She tried her best not to laugh at my ridiculousness and kept driving.
About a minute later I received a text from Alli, asking why we passed the restaurant. I then realized that when my mom said she saw my friend she was referring to Alli and not Charles. I was obviously not thinking clearly as I realized my mom hadn’t even met Charles yet, so she didn’t know what he looked like.
I took a few minutes in the car to calm down, and let my mom pull into the parking lot of the restaurant. I greeted Alli at the front door, and she had a huge grin on her face. She asked me what happen and I told her the whole story. She laughed and told me everything was going to be fine, I then as politely as I could told Alli to go inside since Charles was coming. She looked at me confused.
“No, I’m going in with you.” I looked at her dumb founded.
“No you’re not, Alli he’s doesn’t know you’re coming.” At the time I was so nervous I didn’t realize how rude I probably sounded. My best friend took time out of her day to do this for me and I was acting like a brat. Alli, if you’re reading this, I’m so sorry I was so rude that night and made you sit at a booth by yourself. I love you and I’m also sorry if I never apologized until now for that. 😭
Eventually, Alli went inside and sat at a table. Charles met me at the front door of the restaurant. He greeted me, told me I looked beautiful and held the door open for me. We made our way inside, and were seated at a table right away. Charles and I sat at a booth in some awkward silence. We nervously smiled at each other then buried ourselves into our menus.
After we ordered our food, I had nothing to hid behind, so we were forced to talk. Once we got over the initial awkwardness of this being a date, we started to have fun. We talked about the usual things, faith, school, family, and future plans. We both had some very yummy curry and both were creeped out by our waiter.
By 8 o’clock we were both full and tired. Alli was getting ready to leave as things were coming to an end, and my mom was almost at the restaurant. I offered Charles a ride home and a chance to meet my mom. He agreed and we both walked out to the car. Charles was friendly and polite to my mom. He thanked her for letting him take me out and said he appreciated the ride. When we got to his house he said goodbye to my mom and said goodbye to me. Everything was adorably perfect…. until he went to close the door.
He said: “Goodbye Ma’am, goodbye Kylie.” And shut the door, I felt embarrassment for him. Kylie? Did he forget my name?
Once I got home, I couldn’t sleep. I stayed up late talking to my mom all about our date. It was nice to have her perspective and I was thankful she was able to meet him. She said he was very nice, very educated and she could tell he really liked me and I really liked him. We both laughed at the fact that he called me Kylie. I was really hoping we just didn’t hear him right.
Around 12am, when I was getting ready for bed, I received a text from Charles. He said he had a really nice time, and he hoped I did too. He texted GoodNight Kaylee, and again I had butterflies.
In September of 2014, I was 19 and preparing to go on a mission trip to the Dominican Republic. Going on a mission trip was a huge goal of mine, but I had never flown in a plane or traveled outside the country. In fact, I knew very little Spanish. So, in order to prepare for my trip, I decided to take a Spanish class at my community college. The Spanish class with Professor Mulligan, changed my life. Without giving anything away, let me share the details of our love story from the very beginning…
On Thursday September 4th, 2014 I began my second year of college. I attended my second class of the day, Spanish 101. I was nervous that this course was going to be more than I could handle, but at the same time I was excited to learn a new language. When I entered the classroom, I contemplated on where to sit. The round tables were arranged sporaticly as if we would be doing a lot of group work.
I decided to sit at the front table, while many other classmates made their way to the back tables. It was looking like I was going to be the only brave soul to sit at the front of the room. This was actually fine with me, since I am a huge introvert and shy when meeting new people.
I was content with the realization that I would likely be sitting by myself the entire semester, however right before the class started, my thoughts were interrupted by a guy sitting next me. I immediately felt the awkwardness of just the two of us sitting at the front table.
I tried so hard not to make eye contact with the stranger. He was a little taller than me, black, glasses, thin, and he had a cracked phone screen, large backpack and a skateboard he carried with him. The stranger tried to make eye contact with me and said.
“I don’t like seeing people sit alone.” He continued staring and waited for my response. What do I say to that? I thought.
“Oh” is all I could say, as my thoughts were clouded by the intense feeling of awkwardness.
As the next couple weeks went by, Charles continued to sit next to me everyday in Spanish. Since we had our Spanish class 4 days a week, we quickly got to know each other as well as our professor. Our professor was one of a kind. He often went on bunny trails telling story after story of how he had embarrassed himself many times in the Spanish language. He had a love for Spain and Costa Rica. He loved talking about Spanish cusines and how we should all take a trip to these amazing places.
On one of the first days of Spanish, our professor said something and to this day it still sticks out in my mind. As he shared about his many years of teaching Spanish, at one point he said:
“I have had 5 couples in my class meet their spouse. And I have been invited to 4 of their weddings.” After saying this, he looked at both Charles and I sitting at the front table. I instantly thought welp that’s not going to be us…. it’s highly unlikely. As I thought this, Charles just looked at me and shrugged his shoulders.
About 3 weeks into the semester, I started to open up to Charles. I tried my best to ignore him and not talk, but in Spanish you are forced to practice the language you are learning, so that meant I had to talk to Charles. But since we were forced to talk in Spanish, it some what broke the awkwardness when we tried talking in English.
On Thursday, at the end of Spanish class Charles tried asking me a question in Spanish. I had no idea what he was asking, and I kept asking him to repeat it. When I realized what he was asking I still played dumb, because I still was feeling shy. Eventually, I mustered up some courage and repeated the question back in English.
“You want my phone number” I said actually feeling quite flattered. He said yes, and I took a chance and gave him my number. I was shaking as I wrote down the 9 digits on a piece of notebook paper, because I had never given a guy my phone number before. I started to feel the sense of awkwardness again as he looked at the number and smiled. I said “Feel free to text me, but I’m super busy and bad at texting back.” He said he understood and we told each other to have a good weekend.
What I said to him wasn’t entirely true. I was busy with school and two jobs, but at the time I loved texting and usually texted people back right away. I said it to Charles though because I didn’t know how I felt about him yet and didn’t want to feel obligated to text him back. He made me very nervous, and I didn’t know if it was because I liked him, or because I didn’t know him well enough to trust him yet.
Regardless of my mixed feelings, I still obsessively looked at my phone that entire afternoon, hoping he would text me…. and he did.