Dave & Karen's Story
~On my way to Mississippi to meet Dave I got in a car accident which totaled my car and made me wonder if this was a sign not to meet him~
You can't run away from true love; if it is meant to be, love will always find a way. I know because it happened to me. i was a real life runaway bride -- living proof that you can't run from love forever.
There were many lonely nights while I was going through my divorce. I found that most of my friendships built during my marriage, dissolved with its ending. One night I was sitting at home learning the ins and outs of AOL wishing I could meet some new friends. I rarely went into chat rooms, but this night, for some reason I did. I sat there watching the conversations taking place and then began reading some of the profiles of the people who were in the chat room. I ran across one from a man named Dave and decided to send him an instant message and tell him that I liked his personal quote about how important his children were to him. Before long, I heard a ping and looked up and read his reply. It was the beginning of a long conversation.
It was unbelievable how many things we had in common. We had gone through a pretty nasty divorce in the past and were not ready or interested in a serious relationship. We both had lost a parent, had children, and the military was an important part of our lives. We enjoyed most of the same music, antiquing and were movie buffs. As we learned more about each other's likes, dislikes, past experiences and future goals, we discovered we were more that two people with a lot in common; we were mirror images of each other in many ways.
I lived in Ohio and Dave lived in Mississippi, but before long we exchanged phone numbers and soon after, arranged to meet. It was October of 1996 when I drove down to Mississippi with my niece to meet Dave in person for the first time. We had just passed the Kentucky state line during 5:00 p.m. rush-hour traffice. Looking to my right, I saw a car coming into my lane and swerved to avoid it. God was with us that day as we bounced off a guard rail and spun through four lanes of on coming traffic, never hitting another car.
The accident totaled my car but my niece and I escaped with bumps and bruises. I wondered, though, if this was a sign not to meet Dave. I debated wheter or not to continue the trip but I knew in my heart if I didn't do this now, I would never have the courage again. I called Dave from my cell phone and told him what happened and we agreed that I would get a rental car and drive to Nashville where he would meet me the next day.
Early the next morning there was a knock on my hotel door and there stood Dave with flowers for my niece and me, and a look of fear and conccern on his face. I was quite a sight with the bruises now in full bloom. I soon realized that the way I looked didn't mattter to Dave because he really cared for me. We talked for hours on end and spent the weekend touring Nashville. When we parted, we knew it would be some time before we would see each other again but vowed to stay in touch through e-mails and phone calls.
We got together again a few months later in Pensacola, Florida where I met Dave's son and Daughter. Again time passed too quickly and I returned to Ohi. As time went on, we decided that we weere meant to be together so I moved to Mississippi in January 1997. We got along well together, but I had reservations because I was still haunted by my past relationships.
Because of my fears I ran back to Ohio several months larer, to the security of family and friends. But that didn't last either. I was missing Dave and he was missing me. We solved the problem by his moving to Ohio. With his job, Dave was able to live anywhere and decided it would be easier on me to remain near family and friends.
Three years into our relationship in the summer of 1998, we attended a Jimmy Buffet concert at the Blossom Music Center. It had rained the entire day but started clearing in the evening. Near the end of the concert I looked at Dave and he was on one knee in the muddy grass, holding a diamond ring in his hand. As he asked me to marry him, a crowd gathered around us and I didn't know what to say. I was taken by surprise and started to laugh at first thinking it was a joke. When I realized Dave was serious, I still couldn't say yes and softly andswered, "Maybe." Dave put the ring on my finger anyway and the crowd assumed I said yes and were cheering and congratulating us. I didn't want to ruin it for everyone so I didn't contradict them.
I knew I had hurt Dave and I hated doing that. Later, he told me that he could understand my fears but that he was not like the men in my past and he would prove his love was true. He said that if having a close relationship was all we could have, her would accept it, but hoped that one day I would say yes.
In my heart I knew I wanted to marry Dave. He had a heart of gold and was so sensitive, loving, understanding, supportive and devoted to making me happy and helping me through any problems or challenges that came my way. Although I could see that he was different than the men from my past, I was still too scared to take another chance.
Retired from the Navy, Dave's work, which is classified and military-related, took him away for months at a time. During one of our separations, I met a nice man at work and we went out dancing several times -- just another way to run away from Dave, although I didn't realize it at the time. This man I started having feelings for each other, which made me question whether being with Dave was what I really wanted. I broke off our "maybe" engagement, but in the next several months, found I missed Dave more than anything. Again my heart was telling me that we were meant to be together. I also knew I would have to accept his work absences and treasure the time we were together if it was to work between us. I decided that I was willing to do this, but I didn't want to marry Dave. If we weren't married, I thought it would be easier to turn around and run if things got bad.
Another year passed. Then in October 1999 we went to Virginia Beach to vacation with Dave's children. We were on the beach one afternoon when a plane started coming our way. It wasn't unusual considering there was a military base close by, until I realized that it was circling around us with a streaming banner that read: "Marry Me Karen". I looked at the children and then at Dave who was again on one knee, this time in the sand holding a dolphin ring box with a beautiful diamond ring inside. "Will you marry me, Karen?" he asked, his eyes beseeching me to say yes. This time I did.
We started planning a wedding for the spring but once again, the memories of the past started invading my heart and mind, making me unable to truly commit to this man who I knew was my destiny. As our wedding day got closer, I would think about it and become shaky and couldn't breathe, I would start to panic and want to run. Eventually I did. I was making everyone around me crazy with my on-again, off-again actions, but I couldn't move past my fears.
Things finally changed one day when Dave was out at sea and we were e-mailing each other. He asked if I'd like to take a trip to Hawaii for a week in February of 2000. I thought it was a great idea and then he approached me with an idea he thought was even better. "Let's get married while we are there," Dave suggested. "That way you can't run away," he teased. I agreed.
We planned our entire wedding through the Internet. And why not? After all, it's how we met. While at sea, Dave made the travel and hotel reservations. I got on the computer at home and looked for information on how to be married in Hawaii. I sent e-mails to several ministers, photographers, florists and musicians who had sites. Making my plans on the Internet, I didn't feel scared at all.
On February 13, 2000, Dave and I exchanged vows at sunset on Wailea Beach, Hawaii. For those of you out there still looking for love, my advice is to be careful but don't give up. Online relationships are not for everyone, but I am glad I took the chance and sent that instant message to a stranger, Because I did, I now have a husband who has been a Godsend to me.
Our story was published in a book titled "Perfect Strangers" True Stories and Secrets for Finding Your Soul Mate on the Internet by Susan L. Buckley in 2002 after I entered a "Head Over Heels contest online.