School life just wasn't the same that fall semester... I had loved the previous two semesters and completely enjoyed my summer work experience... I still hold those four months as my best-ever job experience! But this particular semester, my heart just wasn't in it, and my head certainly was elsewhere. It was focused on the nightly long-distance phone call and watching my inbox for any mail addressed to "Sweetheart"...
Yes, I was a goner. And this separation was killing me. But we kept encouraging each other (more like My Man kept refocusing me) that God knew this separation was all part of the plan and because of that, something in this was best for us at this time.
True. It certainly gave us time to clear our heads and ensure we were following God's leading, and not just our own hearts. It allowed us hours of conversation on the phone to get to know each other better, to ask questions and have in-depth discussions. It allowed us to see how each other coped in difficult situations where impatience was easily to come by. It allowed us time to not only lean on each other but on our God in those lonely times when we just wanted the separation to end. It allowed us time to remember what real life is like - not just the daily anticipation, giddiness and highs that new love surrounds us with. We still had deadlines to meet, work assignments, school projects, bills to pay, assembly responsibilities, and so on. Yes, as difficult as that separation was, it worked to our good - Praise God.
We had it easy compared to some couples. Some people don't see each other for four months or longer... I think the longest we went without seeing each other was 4 weeks... We decided My Man should come East to meet my connections for Thanksgiving. I was super excited, yet nervous. I wanted him to like my friends, and I wanted them to like him. I wanted it to be a good weekend... I wanted him to meet everyone, but I also didn't want to share him! Talk about conflicting emotions. ;)
In the end, it was a very good weekend. My parents and brother came to Halifax for a couple hours on their way to a conference 4 hours away, so they were able to meet My Man briefly. If you know my parents, you can only imagine how nervous they were! I think it's supposed to be the other way around, but nope... that's just our family for you. :) He was staying with my sister and brother-in-law, so had a chance to get to know them a bit. We spent a nice balance of time sightseeing alone and hanging out with friends. I think he was able to get a good feel for my Halifax life in the short amount of time. But the weekend ended far too soon, and it was another round of goodbyes and tears... (I tried to stay calm!)
Things were a whirlwind at school... and it was time to start looking for our next co-op job for Jan-April. This time there was no desire to go to Calgary or Vancouver... no, my heart was set on Toronto! We were both praying for that, as it seemed the most natural step forward... but who knew - God might have other plans. To our relief, He didn't.... I applied to a few places, was asked for an interview at one place downtown Toronto, and to my surprise and great joy - was offered the job! Some students are searching for co-ops right down until the last minute deadline at the end of the semester, and I can't tell you what peace I had when God opened doors and gave me a job at the very beginning of the search. It was like He gave his nod of approval. :) And, it was one less thing I had to stress about the rest of the semester!
The next time together was back in Toronto a few weeks later. I don't remember much about that trip, but two things stand out... One, I dropped in to see my future boss come January... but the other event was the highlight. We were sitting around when My Man turns to me and says, "So do you want to do something just for fun?" Rather vague... so I said, "Sure...I think...What?" And he, my dearest, says "Want to go look at rings just for fun?" WHAT? Like... R.I.N.G.S?! "Umm.. ok. Sure!"
Inside I'm thinking, "How can this just be for fun?? This is part of the future that I want for us, so really... to me it's not just for fun... but is it for him??" Seriously, how come us girls are so insecure. Obviously he's not going to take me looking at rings if he doesn't plan for it to be in our future too. Anyway...
It was a fun trip together... I can't tell you how many times I walked into jewelry stores to look at engagement rings... I've tried countless ones on in my history... I wasn't a girl that had her wedding all planned out, but two aspects of that "much-dreamed-about-day" always stood out for me - the rings and the dress. That's it. Small ticket items. ;)
I look back now and think it's funny... to My Man, it was just an outing... maybe a way for him to gather some information for a future day... but for ME?! It sent questions swirling around in my mind, the emotional roller coaster going at full speed... "He's obviously thinking about asking me... I wonder when? I mean, we have hardly KNOWN each other very long, let alone dated much..." Little wonder why I remember nothing else about that trip. ;)
The end of the semester was in sight... lots going on. Exams, papers, group projects... planning for a move to the concrete jungle, and planning a trip to Vancouver to meet My Man's family. I was a wreck. Too much happening at once. I had my apartment furniture here and there all across town, and needed to do something permanent with everything before I moved. My Man and I had talked, and while it wasn't for sure yet, it just didn't seem that likely I would be moving back. I sold some stuff, gave away some stuff, trashed some stuff, and then took a van load packed to the brim to PEI to store in my parents' house. Lucky them! :)
I was having a hard time leaving... my emotions were strung out. I just wanted to be with My Man, but I had such dear friends in Halifax and it was hurting to leave. It was weird, because my heart was saying a final goodbye because deep down I believed I was moving for good, yet since I technically was only going for 4 months, it wasn't a big deal to anyone else... And on top of everything, I was beyond nervous meeting My Man's family. I'm not quite as social and outgoing as people think! :)
I flew out after my last exam, and connected with My Man in the Toronto airport... together again!!! What a sweet moment. Almost pushed out the nervousness, but... not quite. We landed in Vancouver - a place I had always wanted to visit, and I was doing my very best not to be sick. It turned out, I had nothing to fear... his parents and sister welcomed me with wide open arms and huge smiles on their face! It didn't take me long to realize that they had accepted me into their family... huge sigh of relief. :)
It was a great visit and so nice to meet the ones My Man loved so much, to hear their stories about him, and to see him in his "home setting"... it made me love him even more.
We parted once more on Christmas Eve when I flew home for Christmas. I was only with my family for a couple days before flying back to Toronto to start my new job. This time I was excited! :)