How We Met
When I was in college, my mother was diagnosed with a rare and nasty disease called Triple Negative Breast Cancer. As a nurse, she would sometimes hear of other women and families affected by this same illness at her hospital. Shortly after her treatment ended, she got word of a beautiful young woman named Tara – a mother of three little ones, and another on the way, who was recently diagnosed with TNBC. Tara was strong, thoughtful, loving, full of life and married to a dedicated, fun, intelligent and one in a million kind of man named Matt. My mom, Renee, and I, would pray and pray for Tara, Matt, Jack, Tom, Ray (and little Sam.)
Tara fought long and hard and spent her time in treatment focusing on helping others – by starting an organization called the TaTa Sisterhood Foundation. Tara was so selfless that even during her illness, she was worried about women and families going through the same thing without a solid support system that she said she was so blessed to have nearby. She also prayed for a woman to come into Matt’s life and hoped he’d find a partner again. God called Tara home and she became everyone’s favorite angel. Now her foundation, family and friends all live each day according to her legacy: “Make Today Count”
After college, I realized I missed volunteering – I did it a ton of this in school but had gotten off track with new career opportunities. I decided to reach out to the TaTa Sisterhood foundation and see if they needed any help. My email got forwarded to Head TaTa and Foundation President Matt Boland, Tara’s husband. We decided to meet for lunch to get to know each other and talk about areas where I might be able to help out! I was so excited to meet Matt in hopes he’d let me volunteer since the foundation’s mission sits so close to my heart given my mom’s history.
When Matt and I met for lunch he was one of the happiest people I’d ever spoken with in my life. We laughed, talked about travel, our backgrounds, Triple Negative Breast Cancer … And he also approved my request to volunteer! I walked away from the luncheon so relieved thinking I must have nailed the interview if I’m getting some volunteer work already.
Over the next eight months, I volunteered for the foundation once or twice during crazy busy events and interacted with Matt in ten second increments – maybe three times total. We texted every now and then about family, foundation updates, and I’d beg him for more to do so I could help further. In February, Matt decided to take our small talk up a notch and suggested we become sushi buddies and grab dinner sometime soon. I didn’t want to assume he was interested – he was a father, a foundation president, a physician … I was a young professional dating around and spending time with my best girls friends each day. We were just in two very different places in life and people always say that timing is everything.
But, we had been chatting more frequently and when Matt insisted on picking me up for dinner, I thought maybe this really is a date? I was just so excited to see this happy man again – when he’s not running around running the world like a boss like he does. (A fun and friendly boss that everyone loves.) When Matt arrived to pick me up, I walked out of my apartment and saw him dressed so well leaning up against the passenger side door of his car, ready to open my door. Walking toward him made the butterflies in my stomach go wild and all I could think of was, “Ok. Yup. Definitely a date.” You’ll have to ask Matt how red I turned the closer I got to the car. There’s something about the way Matt looks at me, opens a door, hugs me … He makes me feel special just by being around him.
That night we talked about all sorts of things like the mountains, which is my favorite place on earth, our families, work, fun drinks and more. After sushi we had gelato nearby and Matt took me home saying we should do this again sometime. Giddy as can be I walked inside my apartment and let how a huge sigh, but felt shocked. No way. This can’t be. I mean this might not go anywhere but WOW that was one hell of a night. Just the best time. So effortless. Even if nothing comes of this, I’ll never forget tonight.
After date one, we talked more and more and Matt always managed to surprise me. Each date was better than the previous. The flowers at work, late night chats and life stories and discussions we shared became the highlight of my days. After five or six dates, I knew I wanted to be with Matt forever. I just hoped I had what it takes to walk, love and live where Tara once did, as Tara once did – in his life, in the precious, innocent lives of Jack, Rachel, Tom and Sam. It’s truly an honor to stand where she stood and to know the people she loved. To fill such shoes is unfathomable, so I’ve just always tried to be myself and bring happiness into our unique family’s world each day. It’s the least I can do compared to how many smiles they put on my face each day since we all got together.
Matt told me he loved me quickly and I couldn’t fight the same feelings. There was just no keeping us apart.
how they asked
My girls and I take an annual winter trip to Vail and when Matt got word of this he was happy for us, but a little jealous. He suggested he and I head out to the mountains a few days before all the girls for some adult time – this time is rare since we have four lovely little ones at home. I said, “sure!” and we started planning out our fun. Matt was working way more than usual in the months leading up to the trip, so we were both beyond ready for some vacation time. After a miserable airport experience – just one of those days when Murphy’s Law is more real than ever – and some tough, snowy mountain weather on the road, we made it to Vail. Day one on the slopes was perfect. It was cold, but we dressed in just the right amount of layers for swift runs down the hill and brisk blue sky rides up the lifts. After delicious bloody marys for brunch, we took a look at the trail map and started plotting out our afternoon and how to make our way back to Mid Vail for lunch.
On our last chair lift back before skiing down to our restaurant of choice, we were discussing how it’s been the greatest day of all time. Perfect weather, perfect ski conditions, we feel relaxed and this vacation was so worth the wait. Matt said he wanted to take some pictures before bombed down and I agreed! (I never hesitate to capture moments because we forget all too often to get the phone or camera out as it is!) We hopped off the lift at the top of Vail mountain where resort photographers are always hanging out to take tourist photos. We smiled, held our gear, and thanked the cameramen for the time. As we walked away Matt bent down to get something from his backpack ..
I asked him what he was doing and he said he was after another layer to put on. I was taking in my favorite view of the Gore Range to pass the time when I noticed a clearly advanced skier decked out in his gear with his own personal photographer with him. I thought to myself, “Wow, that guy is about to launch off some cliffs on the back side!” He just seemed so legitimate. And how cool he’s got a photog with him. I turned back around to glance at Matt and found him on one knee with an open box in hand. Speechless … Matt filled the silence with some sweet words pausing at, “Will you marry me?”
Still shocked, all I could utter was, “Are you sure?” “Did the kids say it was ok?” and “Really?” Matt laughed at me and asked, “Are YOU sure?” And then … I said, “Yes!” He stood up, we hugged like crazy and then he told me to say hi to Jackie, because she was our photographer. Jackie, and her husband Casey (the awesome skier I had noticed 5 minutes before) had captured the entire proposal.
Even better, Matt had arranged for Jackie to spend the afternoon with us and have an impromptu engagement shoot on the spot. I suggested we take a break and pop some champagne – but of course Matt had that covered … He’d asked Jackie and Casey to bring the bubbly and the flutes in their backpacks on the mountain. We popped the Veuve (my favorite) right away. Our hands were frozen! When we got on the lift that morning it was negative three degrees – and worth every second.
Matt said he wanted to capture that real moment and true happiness from the day … And he definitely did because the pictures are to die for! Views, mountains, trees, snow, fireplaces, village shots, bridges, and of course – the phone calls home to mom and a dad. It was a dream come true. And I don’t even have to change my name!