It is spring 2010 in Minnesota and I spent the last month in the RAMS theatre preparing for the spring play....Mpossble: The Case of the Mssng Letters. This means hours in the theatre after school rehearsing, building the set, painting, cleaning, organizing, singing, dancing, etc with the kids. This also means that I only get to spend a short amount of time with Matt each day (and lots of days not at all) until the weekends.
Now some people might laugh at that, but when you don't get to go out on dates, or spend a couple of nights together doing "coupley" things and it's not like you can just pick up the phone and call. It's 6 hours time difference people. 6 hours. By the time I get done with work and theatre here in MN it is almost midnight in the UK...so that 30 minutes of conversation is precious.
The first month went by very quickly and as we are getting closer to performances at RAMS the time we got to spend together online was getting shorter and shorter and yet all I wanted was to spend time with Matt. It was hard to not be able to see him or talk every day, but it was fun to get text messages throughout the week to say hello.
Friday, April 23rd - the day before my birthday I ran home at lunch, like I do every day, to let Lola out. While home I checked the mail and there was a package. Something from Amazon. I was a little confused trying to remember if I ordered something, but nothing was coming to mind. So...I opened it up. Inside was 2 wrapped gifts and a note from Matt wishing me a happy birthday. And there goes my heart again all a fluttery. After just a month he seemed to know me well...sending a book and a CD. Reading and music. Good choice!
The next day, my birthday, I got to spend the whole day working in the theatre with the kids as we had our traditional all day Saturday rehearsal. Lots of work, fun, and a crazy chaotic day! But it also meant that I didn't get to see Matt on my birthday until the very end of the day and for just a short period of time. The day ended at RAMS, I headed home, spent about and hour talking to Matt and then ran off to have dinner with some girlfriends for the evening. By the time I got home I wasn't feeling very well and just chalked it up to a long week and an extremely long day.
I woke up Sunday morning feeling even worse and decided to stay home from church and get a couple more hours of sleep. I got up and my plan was to spend the whole day chatting and reading with Matt, and then heading out for a birthday dinner with my family, but that's not what happened. As the morning progressed while we were talking I just started feeling worse and worse. Here I am telling this guy that "I am never sick." And I feel like a ton of bricks has just hit me. I've been waiting all week long to spend today with Matt and I just keep inching down on the couch until I am fulling laying down. So, Matt sends me to bed for a nap.
A couple hours of a nap goes by and I am woken up by a phone call from my mom. And it is then that my heart skips a beat, but in such a totally different way. Mom proceeds to tell me that one of my sisters best friends, Heidi, was shot and killed in her home that morning when an intruder broke in early in the morning. I can't breath. Heidi was someone I had known since she was little. She was one of Hilary's best friends since they were in middle school. She was a beautiful, funny and amazing woman. I didn't even know what to do next. Mom and dad were over at Nic and Hil's so I quickly got dressed, called Matt on Skype and there I sat, in front of a computer screen with this guy I've known for a month, and sobbed. I could hardly get the words out as tears ran down my face. My heart aches for Heidi's family, husband Nick and their friends.
I say good bye and get in my car and drive the 2 miles to my sisters house. Grab her so very tight and I can hardly breathe as we sit on the couch with my arms wrapped around her. This is not happening. I don't ever remember seeing the look on my little sisters face. And feeling her limpness in my arms. How do you respond? What do you say? What next? My heart aches and tears well up again just remembering that day. We spent a few hours at the house with Nic and Hil as their friends started to gather. And then I headed home for a few hours.
Matt was still awake so we talked again for a few minutes, but it was different. I didn't have much to say. I couldn't breather properly as my heart seemed to have caved in. I was still feeling quite ill and I was starting to get feverish. Conversation was stilted. How do you talk about death and death so tragically on the computer? It was so impersonal. But there was a part of me that was so grateful that he was there and listened and sat and didn't freak out when I broke down. That evening they were holding a prayer service at Nick and Heidi's church and I met my parents there to spend some time in prayer for the family.
The week went on with dress rehearsals and as each day passed my illness got worse and worse. The time I got to spend talking to Matt was also hardly anything at all or nothing. By the time Friday rolled around I had no voice, a terrible cough and it felt like I was swallowing needles. I woke up knowing I had a performance to run after school and then Heidi's funeral to attend that evening and with the way I was feeling I just didn't think I would make it. I sent in to my boss saying I needed to get in and see someone so I would be late to work. Couldn't get into my clinic and didn't have a computer at home to look up a phone number so I texted Matt to look up the phone # to the local pharmacy and laid down on the couch and waited. I ran to the minute clinic at CVS...never again! What a horrible experience! The doctor, or whatever she was, told me I had a virus and sent me on my way.
I went to work. Stage managed the afternoon performance and then headed to the church for the funeral. I was so proud of Hilary. She got up in front of a very full room of the people who knew and loved Heidi and gave a lovely speech remembering her friend. I wept, held my dads hand and wished Matt was there to hold my other hand. What a beautiful testament to a wonderful woman.
Saturday meant 2 more performances and then a cast party. I felt like a walking zombie. I don't remember much about that day. It was organized chaos and oh so very much fun, but I was so sick. As the day went on I got a few texts from Matt. Wishing me luck, saying hello, just checking in. As the first performance was coming to an end I sent him a text and in it I said those 3 little words for the very first time. I love you. After the last week I had had and how I had felt so very supported and loved from so very far away I just felt like it was the right time...except...I probably should have waited until after the show was done, because then my phone started vibrating frantically as right after he received it he called me. Unfortunately I couldn't answer...but we did talk for a few minutes later in the day. And it was that day that I felt like my life really changed, for good.
(I should say that Matt had said "I love you" just a couple of weeks after we met. And had said it many times before I was able to say it. Remember how he had typed "I think I'm falling in love with you"...well the following day after those words he said them out loud, and then a day later he just outright said "I love you." I kept apologizing and saying I wasn't ready to say those words. And he was so patient and so gracious with me. Thank you, love! And I do love you so very much! And that love grows daily!)
Performances and RAMS Theatre season 2010-11 ended. Sickness did not. Let's just say the sickness lasted for almost 3 months...and it was awful.
And this is getting very long...so...we'll leave it at that for the night...