How We Met
Kyle and I first met in 6th grade, we went to the same middle school. We had similar friends but were not that close. That was, until 7th-grade gym class a mutual friend of ours tried to convince us to date. We made it a whole 30 minutes before Kyle walked up to me and said that he wasn’t allowed to date and we broke up. We stayed friends and continued in similar friend groups through high school. Kyle played football for the high school and I was a diver, his best friend also happened to be the captain of the swim team (shout out Mollie) so we crossed paths frequently.
Then the summer of 2012 a mutual friend (shout out Justin!) was coming into town for the weekend and we were both trying to make plans to see him. Kyle said, why don’t we all go out on the boat and all hang out. We spent the day out on the water and I had the most fun I had had in a long time. At the end of the day, Kyle gave me the mixed CD he had burned for the boat ride, so 2012, and walked me to my car. I turned my car on and Boston was playing and he had to check my phone that I was actually listening to Boston, one of his favorite bands.
In the next six months, we continued to hang out and spend time at each other’s parent’s house. He quickly earned the name “not-my-boyfriend Kyle” because although he would come for family dinners and take me out on dates, I was in complete denial that he was my boyfriend. We were going into our senior year of high school and I didn’t want any distractions from my last year’s exams or any attachments going into university. I continued this schtick for quite a while, including him coming and taking care of me while I recovered from ankle surgery, blue slushies, teddy bear, the whole thing.
November 11, 2012, I walked Kyle to the door to say goodnight and he asked me to be his girlfriend. He was nervous and sweet and shy, and most of the time I was the opposite. I responded with “well I guess we kind of already are, so yeah”
We spend the rest of our senior year doing all the cheesy things high school couples do, he was my winter fest date, two proms, I wore his jersey to football games, we were happy as could be! My parents even let him join in on our senior spring break trip with all my friends. Kids in love!
However, I have always been a very logical practical thinker, so as we started to look and apply to universities I sat Kyle down and said this is too important of a decision, so I want you to do what is best for you and I am going to do what best for me. My degree will be forever and I’m not sure if we will be yet (romantic I know). But we did, we ended up going to different universities in two different countries, I went back to Canada where I was born and attended the University of Western Ontario and Kyle stayed in Michigan and went to study engineering at Kettering University.
Once again, I sat Kyle down and said that I wasn’t sure about long distance and I didn’t think we should do it, that it was fun and made for an amazing end to high school but the university was different. Kyle listened to me word vomit all of these concerns and ideas that basically came to me thinking that we should break up and with all the wisdom an 18-year-old can have said “well it’s going to hurt either way, so why not try long-distance first and get a few more days of happy out of it and then decide its not the right thing instead of forcing it to end now and both being sad as we go off to school”
So we went off, Kyle helped me and my parents and siblings send me off, helped move everything into my dorm and long-distance began. Looking back now I think it was the best decision we ever made. We were able to support each other but still have our own journeys to walk. We were able to explore our own new interests and make our own communities at school and pinky promised each other to try and visit once a month. Kyle’s pretty damn good at keeping his pinky promises, so he drove thousands of miles in the first two years visiting me while I went to school and worked in Toronto. He was incredible, making friends with my roommates and floormates.
Then our worlds came to a halt, October 15th, 2015, Kyle received his third cancer diagnoses. He had already beat testicular cancer twice before, the first time when he was 16 and then the second earlier that summer of 2015. We all thought that was the end of it. He went into the hospital in October thinking he had a kidney stone and was met with his oncologist coming to visit. He was told his cancer was back, stage four germ cell, covering both lungs and his liver.
Behind the scenes, my mom had called my friends and roommate to come, gather around me and then Kyle called and told me the news. Now our long-distance felt farther than ever and all I wanted to do was get back to Michigan to go hug him.
The next few months I spent every weekend I could at the University of Michigan hospital, the nurses and staff were amazing and let me visit and spend the night even though I wasn’t officially family. Kyle went through four cycles of the most intensive chemotherapy he had ever received and fought through all of it. I set up a journal page so he and his family could share his updates and I spent all the time with him. My family all supported me in helping me get back and forth from school, made dinner for his whole family. The whole community showed up for him again for this third fight. By Halloween of 2015, he was admitted back into the hospital and put in isolation because his blood counts were so low. It was the worst I had ever seen Kyle, he was so tired and exhausted that he barely opened his eyes when I came in the room. Thank god my girlfriend Lauren came with me that weekend because I was a mess. Kyle had become my rock and for a few days, we didn’t know what direction the rest of his treatment would go. Thanks to the wonderful staff and doctors and nurses at UofM and Kyles tenacious spirit, the chemo kept fighting cancer and Kyle kept fighting to get better.
He was able to come to London ON to surprise me for our two year anniversary. Two 20-year-olds spent their two year anniversary shaving his head in my apartment bathroom and writing “fuck cancer” on a cake. Not exactly where I thought I would be, but I was so happy to have him on a ‘cord-free’ adventure.
Kyle continued to kick cancers ass and was able to spend Christmas at home and by January 4th he was starting his last cycle of treatment. Then February 3, 2016, he received the amazing news that his scan was 100% clear!! Every scan since then has been the same and we celebrate it every time.
With a new lease on life, Kyle got back on track with his studies. He was able to get back to his co-op and was still on track to graduate on time for his 5-year co-op program.
I told you he kicks ass.
We both said life is too short and decided to study abroad in Europe. We conveniently planned to both be in Europe for overlapping semesters and spent 6 months traveling eating and drinking our way around Europe. He studied at an engineering school in Germany and I took courses in Prague. We LOVED every minute of it, picking new cities to meet in for the weekend and we convinced both of our parents and families to make a trip out of coming to visit us.
The world felt right again.
We supported each other through completing our degrees, Kyle was there beside me as I lost both my grandparents in a short amount of time and my father suffered a stroke (spoiler alert: he has since recovered amazingly and cried during my proposal). We had both had years from hell and were ready to be done university and get out into the real world.
So we did! I finished my degree, and moved back to Michigan and started working. Kyle did the same. I saved up my money and started touring homes with Kyle.
In October of 2018, I bought our first home! We loved pretending to be Chip and Jo and renovated, painted, and refinished every surface in the house over the next year. We moved in together and started the next chapter of our lives together.
Or so I thought that was the chapter…
How They Asked
My university friends planned a weekend to come, visit us. I was so excited, I hadn’t seen them all together in almost a year and some of them had never even seen my house! Kyle and I were excited to host, we set up the house and bought groceries and everything seemed to be a normal weekend.
Saturday we had taken the Canadian crew to the American requested stores and we decided, though some heavy convincing because I really wanted to make a vegetarian risotto for dinner, that we’ll go to dinner in town at our favorite pub. We walked downtown and the pub had a long wait so we walked for a drink before dinner. We toasted and said thank you for making the trip and listened to live music.
As we walked back towards the restaurant we walked down my favorite street downtown, Battle Alley, it has lights hanging across the whole street and it was lightly snowing. It was like a dream. Someone suggested we get a picture, so we asked a photographer who was there to take one of all of us together. As we got lined up for the picture, I whispered to Kyle “that guy kinda looks like your cousin”. We all smiled and took our picture and handed the phone back.
I turned around to keep walking up the street and 22 of our closest friends and family were standing behind us smiling. My parents and siblings, Kyles parents and sister, friends from high school that live out of state now. EVERYONE was standing in the street out of nowhere.
I was stunned and all that came out of my mouth was…
I looked back at Kyle and everyone else around us and said: “what the hell are you doing?” As I started to process what was about to happen I burst into tears and could not contain myself. Kyle took my hands in his and said “it’s been a crazy seven years, hasn’t it? What do you think about the rest of our lives?”
He got down on one knee and said the words I had only dreamed of him saying
“Madeleine, will you marry me?”
Through my tears, I said yes and he shakily put the ring on my finger and I couldn’t wait to kiss and hug him. I turned back around to everyone who was there watching and cheering and could not stop crying. My niece Olivia brought me a flower and I was so overwhelmed I had to sit down in the middle of the street to catch my breath. They all gathered around me and congratulated Kyle on pulling it all off. I hugged and thanked everyone who was there. Then hugged and kissed and cried all over Kyle again.
We walked back up the street hand in hand and went to have a champagne toast at the pub.
Then we got back to our house and the entire place was decorated with “she said yes” and rings and we had a cake to cut and we partied the night away as a newly engaged couple with all our friends and family there.
It was the most perfect proposal I could have imagined, right out of a hallmark movie.
Better yet, I get to marry my favorite person in the world.