It was electric; my stomach tied itself in knots and my mind did backflips. I heard about a love like this in a fairytale once and I always thought that’s the only place love this deep, love this true, love this resilient, could possibly exist.
That night was the beginning of an incredible journey, one that I wasn’t sure would last. We were both 16, bright-eyed and the best of friends. I began my senior year of high school learning his past, finding out what makes him tick, and learning what truly makes him happy.
Our love endured incredible things. For him, brain surgery came first. It had been just over a year since the night we met, I wasn’t his girlfriend yet but I was his best friend and he was mine. With the severity of the surgery set in and his fear and medication taking over, he sent me a text from the hospital that I won’t ever forget, “I love you Tristen. If I die you have to know that I love you.” He was so strong, so brave, and so absolutely spirited and charming as he recovered. Our young love grew exponentially as I visited his bedside every week.
October neared as he approached the end of his intense recovery. Still essentially bedridden, our visits consisted of hours of football games and drifting to sleep. I stood up to hug him goodbye after a visit and after releasing me from his warm embrace he “accidentally” referred to me as his girlfriend, and so our official relationship began.
Neither of us could ever prepare for what came next. A firestorm: one that no couple should ever have to endure and one that forced us to grow so rapidly. That 16-year-old boy held my hand, saved my soul and kept my breaking heart intact through a sexual assault and the nine-month court case that ensued. He saved my life. He held me at my weakest and he stood by my side as I learned to pull myself together. We grew, independently and together.
Just months after the case ended, my depart to college approached. This is where almost all high school relationships end and I feared that ours would too.
With over 100 miles between us, our love endured.
Here I sit, a senior at Ohio University as he finishes an engineering degree back home. I found a boy with the biggest heart and the sweetest soul. I found a boy that took the time to learn my triggers and my scars. I found a boy who walked through hell with me, his love and support never waned; my love for him runs deeper than I ever thought it could.
I found someone who loves to chase sunsets with me. I’ve found someone who lets me eat the middle of the cookie because it’s my favorite part. He admires my passion for cooking but is always there to help: peeling potatoes so I don’t hurt myself and catching my whisk before it drowns in the cupcake batter. He won’t ever turn a light out on me because he knows the dark terrifies me. He always turns on my favorite show when I can’t fall asleep because he knows the noise soothes me. And best of all, he never leaves the room without a kiss.
Young love must endure and it must grow but that’s the incredible part. If love isn’t durable enough to adapt and grow in the worst of times then it isn’t meant to last. In my high school sweetheart I have found the most rare love in the world. Our love is innocent, it is true, it is honest and it is untarnished.
That wonderful boy has grown with me. He has accompanied me on so many incredible journeys. In the spring we graduate from our colleges and prepare to embark on a new journey together…he has just applied to become a part of the Bobcat family.