Meet Jen and Ryan Walters. I think she is gorgeous, and he isn't too bad either. I have never met Jen before, but I have talked about her for hours on end, and feel like she is a close friend. They met and married in the Salt Lake Temple in 2002. They were both born and raised in the Salt Lake area and settled down there with their new family. Ryan worked and went to school to become a nurse and Jen worked in her career of community health. When Jen was 20 weeks pregnant with their first son, Noah, they discovered that the horrible headaches she was having came from a tumor that was growing in her brain. Fastforward through grueling treatments, remissions, miracles, and finally a relapse, and she passed away in May 2009, right after Noah's third birthday.
Meet Cory and Brooke Jenkins. I will spare you too many details because I am assuming if you are reading this blog, you know most of them. But suffice it to say, Brooke and Cory were married in the Mesa temple where they both grew and up and then promptly made a move to Ft. Lewis, Washington. Cory was beginning his career as a Physician Assistant in the U.S. Army. Their daughter Reagan was born in June of 2009 and Cory was gone by that August. He was killed when an improvised explosive device hit his vehicle during his deployment to Afghanistan.
After a year and a half had passed since Jen and Cory's deaths (mind you, I am skipping the description of that time cuz it is boring and slightly depressing), both Ryan and I were struggling to get back into the dating scene. The experience felt a little bit like cruel and unusual punishment for both of us. How could we ever find someone to love and still be able to honor the eternal love and covenants we had made in the temple. We both decided that the only possible solution was to find another person in the same situation, someone who could totally empathize and respect that love. Now here comes the embarrassing part, though we are trying to get over it :) Ryan decided to sign up for the online dating site LDS Planet. He spent a grand total of about 3 weeks on there. I, on the other hand, hold proud to the claim that I was not online dating. So then how did you meet, you ask? Well, my dear friend Angela Barrus was also signed up for that website. One night she was over at my home and we were messing around and looking at her LDS Planet profile online. I asked her to do a search for widowers because I wanted to prove to her that there were none, that I could never get married because there was no one who fit my criteria (spirituality of a general authority, brains of a rocket scientist, the looks of Brad Pitt, and a widower who won the Father of the Year award). We laughed at some of the profiles that our search returned. And then there he was. And all of us in the room knew it. Angela convinced me to let her send him an email telling him to get in contact with me, which he did not do. Jerk. So then she sent him ANOTHER email to tell him he was really going to miss the boat on this one if he didn't act now. He finally looked me up on Facebook, decided I was attractive enough, and sent me a message :) We clicked right away and it was obvious. We chatted back and forth via email, phone and skype. Three months later, in March, he took the plunge and came down for a visit. We spent the weekend together and went paddleboarding. These are a couple of pictures from that day. He said he wanted to let me know that he was interested in me, so he developed an ingenius plan of splashing reclaimed canal water all over me numerous times. Doesn't that just scream romance?
I am going to skip a few details at this point. We traveled back and forth, seeing each other about every 2 weeks. Please be sure and ask him about the first time he kissed me and his smooth line "smell my hair" that was designed to get me close enough to go in for the kill.
I went with the Jenkins family a couple of weeks ago to vacation in Park City, Utah. Ryan drove out our first day and took me out for a night on the town. We went to Deer Valley Lodge and and rode a ski lift to the top of the mountain. We could see a million miles in either direction and it was gorgeous. After Ryan shoo-ed away the other people that were up there, he sat me on a bench, got down on one knee, and told me that he wanted to take care of Reagan and me. Then he asked me to marry him with the ring of my dreams. Well, I said no at first. Got to keep them on their feet, ya know? But I quickly changed my answer :) Then we grabbed a scrubby looking twelve year old who was the only other human being around to snap this picture. We can't describe the comfort that comes from being with someone who understands our hardest trial so completely, the ease of being able to tell each other story after story about our husband or wife and the person only wants to hear more, and the awe that comes from knowing we have SOMEHOW, SOMEWAY managed to find TWO people in our short lives that we are meant for, when there are others who toil their whole lives without such a privilege. And that is the story of us, in a nutshell. I have included a few more pictures for your viewing pleasure.
Reagan and Noah playing Captain America in the Target. Don't these look like the kind of kids who get shoved in lockers at school?
Enjoying a great Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers game
This is the moment I knew I loved Ryan and wanted to marry him. Can you tell why?
Trying to capture a group shot in the blacklight of Kangaroo Zoo
Lunch at the Olive Garden with my sister Phoebe's family
We took an old fashioned western picture at Rawhide. They thought they were the stuff :)