Abrielle Walker – Our love story
Couple’s Love Song: My Best Friend by Tim McGraw
Our love story began at Columbia Middle School in 2008. Yes, we are middle school sweethearts! Joel was in my seventh grade art class and I would always catch him staring over at me. Like most kids our age, we exchanged numbers and would text back and forth. I remember one night that he called me and we talked on the phone until the sun came up (quietly of course – our parents would have killed us if they caught us up that late). We talked about everything, about our favorite foods and biggest dreams. We talked about my love for animals and his love for soccer. Over the next couple months, we became inseparable. He became my best friend. I loved everything about him. I loved how he could always make me laugh and smile. I loved how he would walk me to every one of my classes holding my hand, even if it made him late to his own. He was (and still is) the sweetest person that has ever came into my life.
By the time we were in our first year of high school, I was in love. It does seem silly that a kid that age could be in love, but I have always known that Joel is my person. He still walked me to all of my classes, holding my hand. We still talked constantly and would hang out as often as our parents would allow us to. Everything was perfect! Until one day on our walk home from school, Joel told me that he needed to talk to me. So many thoughts rushed through my head and my heart sank. I could tell that something was wrong. He explained to me that his family decided to move to Nebraska, and that they would be leaving in the next couple weeks. I was devastated. I hated the thought of not seeing him every day. As a very dramatic teenager, my world came crashing down. The day he showed up at my house to say goodbye, I did not want to let him go. I held onto him and cried until my eyes were puffy and my nose was runny. He cried too. The first couple days after he moved away were the worst. It felt awkward not having him walking the hallways of school with me. I felt empty without my best friend. Eventually it did get easier, and I am writing this essay, which means I lived through it! We talked every night and our parents would take turns taking us to go visit each other.
Fast forward to Thanksgiving of 2010. My mom was in the kitchen making a last minute dinner for us. We usually would go to Burlington to have dinner with my family, but this Thanksgiving I didn’t feel quite up to it. The smell of my mom’s cooking (although it smelled fantastic) made me nauseas. I thought I maybe had a stomach bug until the nausea never went away. I started getting sick every morning, and then I started to worry. My mom was concerned too, and she asked me a question that made my stomach turn even more – “are you pregnant?” Of course, I immediately answered no… as if it was absolutely impossible. Except, it wasn’t. And that thought alone made me uneasy. Joel was my first for so many things, and pregnancy was a possibility. After a few more mornings of throwing up, my mom made me go to the doctor. I remember waiting in the clinic and just wanting to disappear. Joel was texting me the entire time I was there. I couldn’t sit still as I waited for the doctor to come in and talk with me. After what seemed like an eternity, the doctor walked in. I could tell by the look on her face that the news she had for me was what I had been so afraid to hear. She sat down in front of me and put my hands in hers. “You’re pregnant”. She said. I felt my face get hot as tears rolled down my cheeks. I couldn’t even speak. She began discussing all of the options to me. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe that we – kids – were now responsible for a little life. Over the next few days, we dealt with so many emotions. We had to tell our parents, which was one of the hardest things each of us has done. We had to discuss what to do next, which is a conversation I didn’t imagine us having until much later in our lives. After many sleepless nights and many, many tears, we made our decision. Adoption. I set up a meeting with an adoption agency called Bethany. My first meeting seemed unreal, I couldn’t believe that this was something I had to do. I met an amazing person named Renee, who explained the entire process to me. She made me feel comfortable. She still explained my other options to me and actually gave me a “homework assignment”. I had to go home and calculate the costs and necessities that come with having a baby. For me, a 14 year old with no job, no money, no car… these things were impossible. My first ultrasound was when everything became real for me. I remember looking up at the screen and seeing what looked like a little bean wiggling around. I listened to the fast little heartbeat in complete awe. Since Joel was a state away, he wasn’t able to be there for my ultrasound. At his next visit, I showed him the pictures that they printed out for me. He sat there and stared at them without saying a word. I watched him as his eyes filled up with tears. We hugged each other sobbing. Over the next few months, I watched my belly grow. I would send Joel pictures and update him about every movement and every hiccup. He was so supportive every step of the way. We started looking at potential adoptive parents when I was about 6 months along. The parents made books with pictures of them and stories about their lives. After looking through a couple books, I came across one that I couldn’t look away from. Chris and Michelle. We flipped through their book and looked at the beautiful pictures they took with their daughter, Grace. They all looked so happy. I couldn’t help but think to myself that they were the ones. We spent the next few months getting to know Chris, Michelle, and little Grace. They became our family and I felt in my heart that our little boy would be happiest with them. It was summer break for us and I felt about the size of a whale. Joel was staying with us every night towards the end of my pregnancy, just in case I went into labor. Joel loved to hold my belly and talk to it. We would stay up late talking about so many things. My due date was July 20th, 2011 and by that day, I was still large and in charge (as large as a 4’11” girl can be). I went to my doctor’s appointment that day, and my doctor explained to us that the baby wanted to stay in my belly for a while longer. She gave us the option to be induced, and we decided to do that. The next night we packed up our bags and headed to the hospital. Joel and I picked out his first outfit, a baby blue and white onesie with little bears on the feet. We arrived at the hospital around 7 that evening. Joel did such a good job with helping me with whatever I needed. The next day, July 22nd at 1:03 PM, our son came into the world. Joel was by my side the entire time, except for the few minutes towards the end that he almost passed out and the nurses had to run to his side with a juice box (he hates when I tease him about this). He did feel well enough to cut the umbilical cord which is one of the most special moments for him. Joel and I spent the next few days in the hospital holding our son and loving him as much as we could. Joel helped change his diapers and feed him. It broke my heart seeing him hold our son. Even though I knew our minds were made up, I still wanted to bring him home with us. I knew what a caring, sweet, loving person that Joel was and what an amazing dad he would be. It tore us both apart to leave the hospital without him. We cried our eyes out the entire way home. We stayed in bed the next few days in the same condition. That was what true heartbreak feels like. Having Joel by my side through all of it made my love for him grow so much. Our son will be 7 this year. He just lost his first tooth and he is so smart and strong. We still have regular contact with Chris and Michelle and get to see Sam (our son) whenever we like. Sam knows we are his real parents and always tells me that he “grew in my tummy”. He loves to show Joel all of his toys and play with us whenever we see him.
On Christmas Eve of 2016, Joel asked me to be his wife in front of our friends and family. I was completely shocked but said yes before he could even finish asking me. There is nobody in this entire world that I would rather spend the rest of my life with. We have lived together in our cozy little apartment for almost three years. We always said we couldn’t wait to live together, and it is even better than I ever dreamed it to be. I love waking up to his sleepy smile every morning, I love coming home to his loving arms after hard days at work. We have two babies of our own – fur babies named Buggy and Penelope. Joel and I will be celebrating our nine year anniversary on the 23rd of this month. These nine years with him have been filled with so many ups and downs, but filled with so much love. It’s incredible that the boy in my 7th grade art class turned into the love of my life. He still makes me laugh on days that I don’t even feel like smiling. He still holds my hand on our way into the grocery store, and surprises me with little things that he knows I’ll love. He is the most selfless and amazing individual and I cannot wait to make him my husband.
To the person reading this essay, I would like to tell you what an amazing thing that you are doing for the lucky couple who gets this wedding. Joel and I could only dream about a wedding like the one you are offering. I truly hope that you enjoyed reading our little love story! We thank you for your time and consideration.