Sara and Jacob

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How We Met

Her Side of the Story: Jake and I met after our sophomore year of college. We both were accepted to the Summer Medical and Dental Education Program at the University of Louisville. On the very first day of the program, Jake heard me telling some girls around me where I was from and he said “Wow you’re from Maryland? That’s sooo cool!” I could only assume that Jake had never left his neck of the woods/lived under a rock since Maryland was not all that cool. But his initial interest in hearing me talk about Maryland led to discussions on private school, alternative music, the best movies of all time, and more. It took less than a week after our first meeting for Jake and I to couple up. Over the next 6 weeks, we did nearly everything together.

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We studied together (Jake tutored and quizzed me in organic chemistry and calculus, which enraged me because calculus wasn’t even one of our classes and I was horrible at math…), we played tennis together, we went to church together, and we went to country concerts, hookah bars, and horse races with our group of mutual friends. We spent every single day together for that 6 weeks. Everything felt so natural and easy in our relationship that we never discussed the option of going separate ways at the end of the summer. We both KNEW that we lived 500 miles from one another, but we just never acknowledged it. During the last week of the program, Jake and I went on a very fancy/expensive date (especially for two poor 19 year olds) that ended at the Walking Bridge over the Ohio River at Louisville’s Waterfront Park. Jake first told me that he loved me there at the Walking Bridge.

[This Walking Bridge became a special place in our relationship. When Jake moved to Louisville for medical school years later, we regularly went on runs, had picnics, and played with our pup at this park. We brought visiting family and friends there. It was the heart of the city for us.]

We eventually parted, with tears and kisses, and told each other that we would take it a day at a time. A day would turn into months, and months into years. We would continue our long distance relationship through the rest of undergrad (2 more years). We would then graduate college together. We would endure my constant hair color change with each new year that we were together. We would move to each other’s states for whole summers, working research jobs or studying for exams. We would then be accepted to Medical and Dental School in 2 different states, signing on for another 4 years of long distance. We would buy $200 flights every month to spend a weekend together here and there as our schedules allowed. We would get a puppy together. We would endure horribly stressful weeks in graduate school together.

When we decided that our relationship was worth pursuing after that initial 6 weeks together in 2013, we never expected to spend 6 years in total as a long distance couple. But every joyful minute that we are able to spend together has made the hardship worth it.

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how they asked

His Side of the Story:

I had known for five years I was going to marry Sara Knox. Finally, this spring, things were lining up; I had asked her parents for their blessing, we were both due to graduate next year, and we both really wanted the same things out of marriage and family. I had bought her ring from a local jeweler who had sent it off in order to get the right specifications. They said they’d call me when it was ready.

Wednesday night, the evening before Sara was flying into Louisville, I got a call from the jeweler. “Hey Jacob, just wanted to let you know that your ring is ready for pick-up. Thanks.” I listened to the voicemail as my two brothers, my friend and I sat around hanging out. I knew that the time had come and I was so ready to get the plan into action. The jewelry store had given me a time frame a bit longer than I was anticipating, so the phone call came as a surprise. Nevertheless, I was more than eager to hatch a plan. I recruited by brothers and buddy on the spot, asking for their help in the proposal plan that was set to be Friday (not even 2 full days after the call from the jeweler). They departed from my house with their preliminary roles and I had a lot of work to do.

The plan had been in my head for over a year, so I was ready to get it started. As soon as I saw my brothers and friend off, I ran quickly over to my computer and picked all of the best pictures we had taken together over the five years. I put them on a flash drive, printed them out, and picked up a bunch of supplies, ready to create a crafty surprise – my specialty, as showcased throughout Sara and my relationship.

From there, I drove down to the waterfront park to scope out the spot I had been thinking of proposing. I found the place, took about a hundred pictures from every angle, and sent them to my older brother. Mind, it was one o’clock in the morning at that point, so they weren’t the clearest quality, but he got the gist. It also probably helped that I went back to my house and drew a very detailed diagram of the plan.

That night, I took the pictures, the poster board, the wooden stakes, and the colored markers and created a “walk through our relationship”. From the first few weeks of our relationship up to the last couple weeks previously, it showcased the highlights of the times we had spent together. I wanted to recreate all the times our love flourished and all the times we fought through the difficulties and the long distance to be where we were now. Eight signs total, the last having an empty slot for a picture, signifying the times we were going to create. It would signify the times we would immortalize with amazing memories and daily challenges we would undergo together. It would be our future from that moment on, not hers or mine.

Sara came in the next evening, and it was the hardest thing to keep my excitement contained. Luckily, she came in late, and I had clinic the entire next day, so I didn’t have to risk spilling the beans since she was at home entertaining our dog, Roosevelt. I got home that Friday, eyeing the gray clouds warily, the only thing giving me anxiety about the proposal. Everything else was set to go. I had the ring. I had my brothers and friend ready to set everything up and hide out to take all angles of pictures. And I had the most beautiful girl in the world. We greeted each other, and I told her to get prettied up, since we were going to a fancy dinner. I told her to get ready EARLY, since she’s a girl and takes a year to put makeup on. I got my clothes on, went out to the car, and hid the engagement ring in the console area.

But, of course, the one time I depended on Sara to take her time with her makeup, she was already finished. At 6:15. I had set my brothers and friend off with the intention of being at Waterfront Park at 7:00. As Sara burst through the bathroom door, make up done, saying “ready!” my crew was just getting to the place, and beautifying the grounds. Rain was coming and going, which only added to the apprehension I started to feel.

I frantically stalled in the worst way possible, opting to play cards, stare out the window and talk about the weather for the umpteenth time or just comment on how pretty she looked, which, I found out, there actually is a limit on. I had foolishly told her that the place had a bar, so she kept protesting my hindrance, asking why we couldn’t just go to the bar and get drinks early. I made up horrible excuses: as in, I changed the subject and talked about the weather. Again.

Finally, the painstaking minutes passed, and my brothers were promising they could be done a few minutes early, so we got in the car and started it up. I took a deep breath, said a prayer, and started making the short trip to the riverfront. It’s amazing how quickly that drive is and how little traffic you hit when you need more time on a Friday evening. Sara knows I’m a grandpa driver, but I slowed it down to great-grandpa standards. I broke for yellow lights. I broke for green lights. I broke for butterflies. I was breaking for everything. Every chance I got, I checked my phone to see an update.

“We’re good to go, man. Good luck.” My brother relayed the happy news. I got us to the parking lot, let her get out and nimbly grabbed the engagement ring like I had rehearsed in my head a hundred times. The rain had stopped at this point; it was nothing less than a miracle. The ground was wet, but the skies were breaking their grey to show the evening sun, hitting the Ohio River with a sunset grace that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I took Sara’s hand, told her I had wanted to make a quick stop, and broke through the lane of trees to look at my best friends’ marvelous work.

The lane of signs was lined with pink and green streamers, our favorite colors and our planned color palette for the wedding. Each sign sequentially placed, easing our pathway up to a pair of young trees. Here, between the bases, was the final sign, surrounded by large pink roses. My brother, in his preconceived plans, told me he was going to place them in the shape of a horseshoe to give it a more Kentucky feel. He did not let me down. I looked down to Sara, asked her if she was ready, to which she replied with a single, smiley nod, and we took a trip down memory lane.

At each sign we stopped, and she put her hands around my arms. We talked about the memories we were looking at and how it made us feel. How it made us feel then and how it gave us perspective now. How much we were in love then, and how much more we were in love because of it. It felt so natural then, having a best friend to walk with you through the hardships of life, college, professional school, and personal battles. Through thick and thin, we always gave each other everything we had. Our support, our patience, our love. I couldn’t have gotten to where I was today without her.

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We approached the eighth sign, positioned the other direction so Sara would have to walk around into the horseshoe of roses to read it, while I excitedly thumbed the ring in my pocket. She eventually turned to me, standing behind her, and I told her all the things that I had been dying to say to her since I fell in love with her five years ago. The long distance was so difficult; so difficult to not have your best friend with you when you needed them most, but I know I would have repeated these five years over and over again, a thousand times, just for the chance to be anywhere close to where we were now. I got down on my knee, said her name, and asked her to be my wife.

And here we are.

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