Hannah and Michael

Image 1 of Hannah Van and Michael

How We Met

Have you ever met someone and felt like it was meant to be? That’s exactly how it felt when I spotted Michael from across the room at a very popular bar at the Jersey Shore, Parker House. The setting was perfect – my family friend, Paul, was playing live music – all of the hits, and the next thing I know I look across the bar and there he was – a tall, handsome man, looking my way. Next thing I know, my roommate is talking to him and our groups quickly merged together. We started talking, dancing to the music, and hit it off that night, everything was perfect. However, the one thing we didn’t realize, which we would learn weeks later was that we shared a tragedy that would bond us for life. That moment of feeling like we were meant to meet each other, being in the right place at the right time, was the moment that brought us together in that crowded bar; the moment that allowed us to find each other and happiness again. Michael and I had no idea that we both were going through the same pain, the same loss, the same story. We both lost our fathers, suddenly, and tragically, to heart attacks. Two different lives, two different stories running concurrently to one another.

A few weeks after meeting, I remember waking up in his room and looking at photos of a little boy with a middle age man. I thought to myself..he couldn’t have? How could I have found someone who also lost their Dad? That doesn’t make any sense! But it was true, we sat one night, and talked about our losses – lots of tears, lots of alcohol, but it connected us. This tragic loss that affected our lives, brought us even closer, allowed us to open up about our feelings and helped with the grieving process. Michael brought me back together, he helped me over come those moments that were some of the hardest of my life, and I did the same for him. I helped him open up and talk about his feelings, because as most of my friends and family know, I am a feeler and a talker. Love crying, love love, love telling people how much I love them – all of the feels! Michael and I found each other, we believe our Dad’s connected us that night, which began a love story that will live on forever. We brought life back to our lives and an insane amount of happiness.

how they asked

Two weeks before the proposal, my company asked me to transfer to London for work for 7 months. Before even asking Michael, I said yes…I mean.. who says no to London?? Michael fully supporting my decision and he decided to ask his work if he could transfer, too…and they said YES! All of the stars aligned for us. Getting ready to make the move to London, I told Michael before leaving that I wanted to visit the spot where I spread my Dad’s ashes before leaving for this amazing adventure – I am going to stop there. Now let’s talk about the best day of my life.

Michael and I love having, what we call, “Perfect Sundays”. A Perfect Sunday is when you wake up, get in the car, grab breakfast sandwiches/coffees and go for a drive. You don’t have a destination in mind, but you put the music on and just get out of the city. That morning, we were heading to my Mom’s house in PA to celebrate my grandfathers 95th birthday and it was already starting out as a Perfect Sunday. On the way, Michael asked if I wanted to take a drive through the Delaware Water Gap and stop at the place where I spread my Dad’s ashes. Given that we had limited time left in the states, I thought it was a perfect idea. We get to the park and Michael looks at me and alerts me that the gas tank is on empty.. and we are in the middle of a national park. Quickly, we turned the car around and drove in neutral to a town 5/10 miles..needless to say, it was a crazy 10 minutes. At that point, I figured we weren’t going to go back to the spot, but he quickly assured me that we were heading back and I will have my moment.

As we drove through the park, the weather was a bit hazy and rainy. When we got to the spot we got out of the car, but it started to rain, so we jumped back in and listened to music until the rain stopped; luckily, it only took 5 minutes. We started to walk around and I showed Michael the spot, I took him through the moments of that day, the history of the Van Campen house and how special this place is to my family. Michael said he would be right back because he wanted to grab a blanket from the car, so I could sit on this stone wall in front of the house (to be honest, I was thinking to myself..a blanket WTH, we don’t have blankets in our car..) and he returned with a dirty sweatshirt (aha I was right!). I sat and he stood in front of me.

We were there for a while and then he looked at me and said, “You know why we are really here, right?” Looking at him perplexed.. and then it hit me..holy shit.. is this really happening? Every emotion flowed through the both of us, tears, shaking, hugging, kissing.. it was everything. The rain started to pour down on us and we just stood there – in our moment, in our forever. Michael gave my Dad the opportunity to share that moment with us, we will always be connected to that place, not only because of my father, but because that is the spot we agreed to spend the rest of our lives together. It was a perfect day; a Perfect Sunday.

Image 2 of Hannah Van and Michael

Image 3 of Hannah Van and Michael