Also in this series: Part One: What Is Courtship? | Part Two: We Were Best Friends | Part Three: The Calm Before The Storm | Part Four: To Lose One’s Best Friend | Part Five: To My Darling Clementine | Part Six: The Storm Starts Brewing | Part Seven: The Five-Year Relationship Plan | Part Eight: The Means To An End | Part Nine: We Made It | Part Ten: I Am A Phoenix | Part Eleven: Conclusion, Don’t Brush Off the Next Generation
Part Three — The Calm Before The Storm
Phil made me feel safe.
There really is no other way to put it, other than that he truly makes me feel safe, protected. As I write this I can only think of how much this miraculous man has kept life in me and has committed himself to loving me with all that he is. He has done nothing but firmly stuck with me through some of the worst parts in my life. He has wiped tears from my eyes when I no longer had strength to do it and he held me close when the outside storms threatened to overturn our little boat.
He’s pretty awesome, people, and that is becoming even more clear and obvious to me as I gain a clearer perspective of our story.
Phil started telling me that if he ever started his own company he wanted me to be his secretary. I asked him why, and he told me that I had some of the most efficient writing skills he had ever seen and that I was at the top of the list (I honestly think I was the list!). He loved my ideas about projects and we were constantly coming up with ideas that we could do together. We were an odd mix of very outgoing and incredibly introverted. We were most happy when brainstorming in the corner at a party than being in the midst of all of the action.
By the time we had known each other for 5 months we were best friends in the sincerest form of the word. Ever since letting go of my tightly held idea of marrying a tall man I had started realizing that Phil was a man that I would be willing to spend the rest of my life with, but I had no idea what he thought of me. So I somehow very easily pushed my feelings of romantic interest in him back and just let myself enjoy the awesome friendship we had.
I am glad we had such a deep friendship before “falling in love.” In fact, I’d say that it was our deep friendship that actually made loving each other a natural next step.
I am a huge advocate of being best friends with your husband.
For his birthday I planned a surprise birthday party. I wanted it to only be his closest friends and just an opportunity to hang out, eat pizza, and play games. He just about ruined the surprise when a day before his birthday he sent an email to all of the people I had invited, saying that all of them were welcome to stop by for his birthday. His sister and I managed to contact everyone and let them know to play it cool about dropping by. We did actually surprise him and it was a great party!
A few days later, Phil told me that he wanted to send me something. I raced up to the library that day, and opened the email he had sent me, only to discover a song that he had written for me. It even had my name in it! (Cheesy, I know, I know, but it was pretty significant to me! I still work that song into some of the piano compositions I make up these days.) I was floored. Here was a guy who had told me a month ago that he wouldn’t get into a relationship until after college. Here was a guy who seemed to genuinely enjoy my company, going so far as to write a song that was specifically for me.
And yet, as he told me later, he still wouldn’t admit that he “liked” me.
At the same time as our friendship was reaching deep, our church was putting on an original production of Pilgrim’s Progress. I was doing costumes and Phil was in the play. The play provided a convenient location for us to see each other and to spend time together. There was rarely a time when we weren’t talking a mile a minute and discussing all of our marvelous ideas. I also discovered that he thought pretty much the same things as I did on a number of random topics, but he had just enough variance in his thinking that it made for fantastic conversations.
From February to April (we met in October of the year before), our friendship started changing very subtly. Phil wrote several very long letters to me during that period, and I still have those letters tucked away in my memory box. During those months, we hit a strange rough spot.
He sent me an email one day and told me that he wanted to take Spring Break that year to think and pray about our friendship specifically.
I was taken aback but readily agreed to cut back communication. I think even though he still wouldn’t have admitted it at that point, he was falling hard for me and that was freaking him out especially since he was barely through the first half year of college. This meant that his plans for the future were being drastically shaken.
The end of that week landed on the birthday party of the mutual friend who had introduced us. I was very unsure about going, especially because I didn’t want to lose Phil’s friendship. The week of limited communication had been hard. Seeing him at the party was one of those moments where a sweet calm washed over me and I knew instantly that everything was going to be okay, there was no way on earth I was going to lose this guy. We were some of the last people to be dancing on the dance floor that night. We danced for over two hours, thoroughly enjoying each other’s company and having a total blast. Our friendship very much deepened after that week, but there was also that one crucial thing left unsaid, so there was a creeping awkwardness. We started seeing more of each other as opening night for the play started creeping ever nearer. Rehearsals were frequent but were also very busy. I spent a lot of time repairing and managing a huge 20 x 40 (I think that’s how big it was, probably bigger) foot piece of canvas that was part of one of the scenes. I still managed to see a lot of Phil, and as most mothers are, we started getting comments about how often we were hanging out together.
I started having friends come up to me to ask if I was guarding my heart.
No really, I’m serious.
I started getting really annoyed and frustrated with all of these people putting their noses into something that seriously wasn’t any of their business.
That’s what we get for having been in the famous, I Kissed Dating Goodbye Josh Harris’ church.
It all came down to the Thursday night before opening week. I was having to fix a major rip in the canvas, and was seated on the floor of one of the gyms, hand sewing and trying to get the thing patched up. (I hated that canvas by the end of that opening week! I was fixing it after almost every rehearsal) Phil, of course, was a very frequent visitor to my misery and on that particular evening, I had at least 4 people come up to me and question my judgement about hanging out with Phil.
By the time the evening was over, I was furious, at Phil (even though it wasn’t his fault that we both enjoyed hanging out so much), at everyone who had talked with me, and with myself, and most importantly the canvas. Phil came to say goodbye to me, but I was less than cordial as it was now coming up on three hours that I had painstakingly been hand sewing that wretched canvas. I was so uneasy and upset, and as I went home that night I felt like something was about to happen.
Something most definitely happened the next day. The first sign was that Phil wasn’t answering any of my texts, nor was he online. I felt a far reaching sense of foreboding as I made my way to rehearsal that afternoon. I still had a bit of the canvas to finish fixing, but I was mostly anxious to see Phil. I knew something was wrong. I was among the first crowd of people to show up at rehearsal, and I immediately knew he hadn’t gotten there yet. I knew the moment he arrived and my heart and stomach reached my throat when I caught sight of his face.
Something was definitely wrong and I raced out the door, frantically calling one of my best friends.
Phil and our mutual friend headed in the opposite direction. My friend thankfully picked up after the first two rings and I started breathlessly telling her that something was about to go down and I desperately needed pray. “Pray, and pray hard. I’ll call you in 20 minutes,” I told her. While on the phone with her, the mutual friend called me and wanted to know where I was. She was soon walking towards me as I stood in the middle of the field at the back of church. She told me that Phil needed to talk with me and that he wanted her to be there as well.
My heart barely beat as I felt my limbs turning to molasses. This was it, I thought, this was what I had been waiting for all day. I walked up to where Phil was waiting for me barely breathing, and my heart just about stopped as I saw how pale, teary-eyed, and sick he looked. I still feel the panic in my stomach as I write this out, even though it’s been 4 years since this moment. I waited blindly for him to start talking as I watched him look at me with heavy concern. He rushed through words that I can hardly remember him saying. He said something that my friendship meant the world to him, and that he wanted me to always remember that. Then he dropped the bomb.
“We can’t be friends anymore. We can’t talk, email, chat, or text, nor can we hang out in the same group.”
He said something about this being his parents’ decision, and then asked if I had anything to say. I don’t remember responding, and in that moment, I was closer to fainting than I have ever been.
For the second time in three years, my heart was completely shattered.
The very person who had been keeping me breathing and moving for the past six months was being ripped from me.
To be continued.