And If You Did Know?

In Memory of Sharon Michele McAvoy Nichols .:. December 24, 1949 – October 10, 2005

February 14, 2006

Will You Marry Me?

Filed under: goodbye — mark @ 8:22 am

For St. Valentine’s Day 1995 I traveled to Colorado Springs to spend the weekend with Michele. She had just been to Illinois two weeks previously and we were both preparing for her to move there permanently in early March. She met me at the Denver airport with a heart shaped balloon and a stuffed teddy bear. In that moment neither of us knew that we would be spending the next 3,160 days together.

That evening when we got back to her apartment I played for her Marc Cohn’s True Companion and asked her to marry me. She said yes. Tee-hee.

Friday evening and Saturday that weekend were spent sight-seeing and just being together. Michele was increasingly aware that her employer was falling on hard times and that the future of her job was in question. She had already submitted a letter of resignation and was to move to Illinois in two weeks, without a new job, just to leave the stress of the psychiatric hospital behind. Sunday morning as we lay together in bed feeling sad about my impending return to Illinois alone, she asked, “Why can’t I come back with you today? Why can’t we pack my stuff, leave the key with the landlord for Allied, and just drive back together, today?”

My first thought was why didn’t we think of this on Saturday, but given that she had hardly any belongings it wouldn’t take too long to pack them up and prepare to drive her car to Illinois. The rest of Sunday was spent packing her small two room apartment and preparing a note for the Allied movers due in two weeks. Late in the evening we finally had the last of the things she was bringing with her in the car, including a very reluctant cat, and headed off to her office. She changed her two-week notice to indicate she was going to take her accumulated vacation rather than get paid for it. She gathered the few things she wanted from the office and we finally set off around 9:30 pm.

Three hours driving got us to Burlington Colorado, the last town before Kansas. In the morning I called my office and took the day off and we set out to drive home. Our trip across Kansas and Missouri was good, filled with laughter and comfortable silences. Along the way we passed Salinas, where we had spent two weekends the previous year, and laughed at the unlikeliness of falling in love in such a remote place. And neither of us knew that Kansas City would figure in our relationship when we drove through it later that day.

After picking up my car from the long term parking lot in St. Louis we drove in tandem the last 90 miles to Springfield. Abby promptly hid under the bed in the duplex we now shared. Over the next couple of weeks we started to adapt to each other and living together. By mid-March her shipment from Allied arrived and we were setting a date for our wedding.

It would have been nine years today. Nine years since I asked her to marry me. Nine years since we starting living together. My memories of that time are warm and make me feel good. I miss her terribly every minute of every day, but I don’t regret a single minute of the time we had together. She was my first and only Valentine.

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