Kathy’s friend was always trying to help her find “the one” and pointed to a guy (who would later introduce himself as “Mike”) wearing a Captain America shirt at a friend’s birthday party. “You’re into nerdy guys, right?” Kathy’s friend asked. She laughed and shrugged it off. Before Kathy had arrived to the birthday party, Mike had admired her smile in a picture he saw on a slideshow playing on the TV. Eric, the birthday honoree, worked on the same research as Kathy and played matchmaker throughout the night, pushing Mike and Kathy together. They ended up talking for the rest of the night.
Their first time meeting at Eric’s birthday party was happenstance. Mike was driving back to Fort Campbell, KY after visiting his parents on leave and stopped in Blacksburg to visit a high school friend. Kathy happened to be working at Virginia Tech at the time and Mike’s friend happened to bring him to the same birthday party Kathy would be at later that night. After hitting it off that night, Kathy fell asleep on his shoulder. She remembers feeling so comfortable around him. “I should have known then that he was special,” she says. “And I think part of me already knew it.”
I asked the couple to define love—they answered it beautifully.
Kathy: “This is not an easy question to answer, but I'll try. When I'm with Mike, I feel a sense of comfort and happiness that I can describe as feeling at home. We trust each other completely and really believe in one another. We protect one another and care for one another. We laugh at dumb jokes and obsess over our cats. We challenge one another to think more critically or to put in just a little extra effort, always with love, respect, and the support we deserve. We're partners. I'm so lucky that I get to have him on my team for the rest of my life.”
Mike: “I'm a bit of an introvert. I was an only child and a latch key kid growing up in the suburbs, so I came to appreciate solitude and quiet. I've always liked people and like to spend time with friends and family, but a lot of times it gets exhausting and I want to be alone for a bit. I get lonely when I am by myself for too long, however, and so most of my single life was spent either trying to break away from excessive socialization or trying to not feel lonely. When I'm with Kathy, I feel like I'm alone--in the sense that I'm in a quiet place away from large crowds and social obligations--but I'm never lonely. Whether at home or in public, Kathy is my refuge when life gets to be more than I want to deal with at the moment.”
Mike values Kathy’s intellect, compassion, and her silliness. He values that she’s a competent professional in her work life and a caring friend in her personal life. When they’re together, Kathy will sing silly nonsense songs about their cats or will make faces at him from across the room or over coffee at breakfast. “It seems like an odd [quality] to find significant,” Mike says, “But I can be a curmudgeon if left to my own devices. Kathy’s silliness always helps break me out of my bad moods and allows me to enjoy life even when things are not going the way I planned.”
Kathy values how caring Mike is. After traveling over Thanksgiving, they were both exhausted and decided to take a nap. She was a little cold and restless and Mike turned to her and pulled up the blankets to cover her, saying that he just wanted her to be warm and happy. “It’s a small thing,” she says, “but, to me, these little moments show how much kindness and caring Mike puts into our relationship.”
“Our life together is full of laughter and there are so many great moments,” Kathy says. She recalls the story of how they got their cat, Chanel:
“We had talked about getting another cat and decided to go to the SPCA just to see what it was like. We walked through the rooms of adoptable cats until we got to one where a tabby cat was reaching out of her kennel to grab our hands. We let her out and she immediately jumped into my arms. I set her in Mike's lap and she was purring so loudly! We tried to get her to interact with the other cats at the shelter to see if she was good with cats but every time Mike put her down on the floor, she'd jump right back into his lap. I could tell it was love at first sight but we didn't have our home set up for a new cat yet.
“When we asked if we could pay her adoption fee and come get her the next day, they said they couldn't do that. I was about to suggest that we go home and see if she was there the next day. But before I could say anything, Mike said ‘We'll just take her now.’ It caught me off guard and all I could do was stutter an agreement. We took her home and she (and Mike) are very happy that she came home with us that day.”
Mike remembers a time they stopped-by a Wal-Mart:
“We walked into a Wal-Mart while we were living in Clarksville to pick something up. The first thing we ran into when we walked into the store was a display for travel coffee thermoses that had a suction cup on the bottom so they wouldn't tip over. The display advertised that they were ‘impossible to knock over.’ Kathy and I were checking them out and commenting on how that was a pretty neat idea when Kathy fell silent, looked at the mug intently, and then swatted it like a cat batting a toy and sent it flying across the room. She spun to look at me, her eyes wide with shock, and blurted out ‘I thought they were impossible to knock over!’ I was laughing so hard that tears were streaming down my face as Kathy ran about trying to pick up the display mug and put it back on the stand.”
Kathy and Mike’s affection toward each other shines in pictures and is radiant in person. They often lingered behind when it was time to move to a new location, enjoying a few extra kisses, or a moment longer in each other’s embrace. They know the value in enjoying the little things about each other: extra warmth during a nap, taking home a new cat together, silly faces and songs over coffee, and laughing at dumb jokes. A thousand of these little moments of joy, compassion, support, and caring lead to the bigger moments, the ones we draw special attention to, like engagements and weddings. Though those celebrations are important and are occasions to be remembered, Kathy and Mike have shown that the every day occasions are just as important.