It's only 75 days until we say our vows, but Daniel has especially learned what it means to "love and cherish... in sickness and in health."
Our spring break visit was long planned-for and anticipated, but not a day into it I was puking my guts out in the Erskine College restroom. It could have been the 2 days we'd spent in the car driving to Charlotte, and then two-and-a-half more hours south down to South Carolina for the first part of our pre-marital counseling; or it could have been the sushi I tried for the very first time at the Japenese/Thai restraunt Erskine's campus minister took us to for lunch; but it most likely was a variation of the common flu that happened to be, unbeknownst to me at the time, sweeping the entire Willeke household.
To make a long story short I was sick. Sick at Erskine. Sick in the car on the way back to Charlotte-- three times over. I'm trying to find words to describe, without giving grotesque details, just how preciously sweet my fiance was with me through it all.
His hand was always resting somewhere on me-- my neck, my back, my knee. He held my hair back for me when I needed it away from my face **ahem** ;-). He even insisted on kissing my forehead before going to bed, and my cheek when I woke up the next morning. He prayed for me. He never made me feel uncomfortable, or gross. He never complained about the side of his car **grins**. He stopped at CVS and bought me peppermints, cold water, saltine crackers and mouth wash, and even offered to skip dinner if the scent was going to bother me too much. He gave up an evening of visiting with old college friends to take me back to my home away from home so I could actually rest. And when we were going 80 mph up I-475 and I asked him to pull over, he jerked right and sped across 3 lanes of traffic to get the car stationary in the median.
He was patient, he was gentle, he was ever so kind. And I could tell with every look and touch and word that he loves me so, so much.
He even said I still looked beautiful.
All this to say, I think I have the world's greatest fiance, and I am completely convinced he will make the best husband ever.
Saturday morning the two girls woke to Florida sunshine gleaming through the bedroom windows. In the kitchen the men were busy with attempts to woo their women. Scrambled eggs, homemade waffles and fresh orange juice awaited.
They enjoyed a lazy Saturday morning, and then a church picnic at noon. Then, the long-awaited evening out. Curled hair, black dress, suit and tie, a white roses, seventy-five dollar dinner, spectacular Wizard of Oz musical, and a quiet stroll along the Bay.
When the two sisters were dropped off at the Wells’ home to prepare for their evening out, the guys went to Peter’s place do the same. They returned two hours later, handsomely attired, and stood at the front door with their hands behind their backs. It was all incredibly romantic, and this time it was the younger sister who was nervous, rather than the older. She stood hiding, while Ashlee joyfully peeked around the corner. She whispered to her sister to come see—they looked so handsome, it was like a real date, & etc.
Finally they walked demurely forward. Peter was quite debonair, and his lady was sweetly impressed. Ashlee was struck by Daniel’s height—he seemed to loom over her—not in a condescending or frightening way—be he certainly was looming. But she was charmed; honored, even, yet fully confident she had no affection for this man outside of a strong friendship.
Before Wizard of Oz
In fact, she felt that this visit was clarifying the contradictions she had wrestled with over the last 3 months. Finally it seemed she knew he was to be only a friend, and that they could be happy simply that.
This same content happiness—both with her life, and with their relationship as it then was-- stood firmly before her as the charming redhead handed her a single white rose. He had only known they were her favorite because of their meaning of purity, and innocence, and so had bought it in an attempt to please. How much it pleased her, he did not know.
Ashlee had once read in a book of a beautiful, godly woman, who on her wedding day appeared the epitome of a bride. Her love story had been heart-breaking, but finally she was to be wed to a man totally worthy of her hand and heart. As she walked along side her father, who was escorting her to her groom, she carried a simple bouquet of white roses. The roses, the author explained, symbolized purity of heart and soul. It seemed only appropriate that this bride should carry white roses as she went to unite with her husband—for her heart, though ill-used by others, had been saved for just one man, and its entirety belonged only to him.
That story stuck with Ashlee through her high school years, and naturally, with a love for depth and beauty, she grew to appreciate white roses for their natural beauty, as well as what they represented. They reminded her always that someday she would be a bride, someday she would carry white roses down an aisle to meet her groom, and someday her whole heart would belong completely to one man.
Daniel had no idea that one single flower spoke so much. He even gave the gift somewhat hesitantly. He was desperate not to come off too strong—too interested. The last thing he wanted was to push her away. Peter had encouraged the rose, and in the end it certainly did not harm the situation, despite Daniel’s anxiety. But he had been nervous to give it. Her smile eased his anxiety, however.
O, he was charming. He was dashing. He was darling. She loved every minute of being by his side that evening—she loved it almost as much as he did. At dinner he kindly reminded her that this was his treat, that she was to enjoy herself and get whatever she wanted. The conversation mostly got split between the two couples, or between Ashlee and Peter. Though she did enjoy his company, something about the atmosphere made her pull away from being too intent upon only him. Peter and Angela joked they should have gotten a separate table. Once, while she was listening to Peter she could feel Daniel’s gaze on her face. Finally, she turned, caught his eye and smiled. Absent mindedly he took a sip of his drink, and said not a word. The image of his face at that moment stuck with her for months, even giving her butterflies because of the obvious admiration.
On the way to the Performing Arts center the foursome enjoyed an interesting means of transportation: An electric-powered car that made the noise of a scooter, was the length of a station wagon, the shape of a small European car, with four or five rows to seat four people inside. There were no permanent windows, only a soft top, and plastic to zip in case of rain. So, the fresh evening air came all the way through the interesting electric-powered vehicle and though in Tampa, it still was mid October, and the sun had long since dipped beneath the waves of the Bay. The air was chilly, and the evening air nipped at her shoulders and neck. Daniel, even, commented on the coldness, and huddled against himself humorously. They looked back at Peter and Angela, hugging each other sweetly—body warmth! So, she platonically put her arms around him, as he chattered uncontrollably (he really was—she has since learned he has cold spells every once and awhile). As soon as she did she regretted it, though her arms lingered a minute so as not to appear unkind. Then she released the hug, moved completely to her seat in the car, and laughed, “No Ecclesiastes 4:11ing here.” (Go look it up reader, we promise you’ll laugh.) He laughed good-naturedly—that was just exactly the humor he liked!
As they entered the Performing Arts Center, he offered her his arm. And with a keen realization that there would now be nothing separating them in the eyes of all watching from every other real couple in the building, she accepted. If he was going to be chivalrous, she would certainly not discourage him.
He felt like a million bucks, walking to the building with the girl of his dreams gracefully walking at his side, her arm through his, sweetly following wherever he led, and eagerly listening to—hanging on, even?—his every word, laughing at his jokes, and smiling constantly. Things were going well… so well.