Last week Sean and I found out our application for an apartment was accepted while we were visiting my parents in Key West. We were of course over the moon and I have been on cloud nine ever since anticipating the day I get to start moving in. With all of this on my mind, and in thinking about this next big step in our relationship and lives, I started to reflect on where we have been and some of the moments that made me fall in love with Sean. The following is just a piece of our love story, which is my favorite love story.

Sean and I started our relationship on the pretext that it would be temporary. I was graduating in May and moving to Washington and he had another semester to finish up before graduating in December. At that time in our lives, it did make sense to part ways. We both knew how difficult distance can be and the relationship was so young with so little time to mature. But, you don’t measure love in time, you measure love in transformation. And boy did we both transform each other over those few months before graduation. Eventually we decided to give the distance a go and, well, the rest is as they say, history.

The following is one of those moments where I knew I loved Sean.

Last spring, about a month before I graduated from VT, I was attending seminar Friday afternoon with Sean. The Geosciences department has a seminar every Friday with a guest researcher/professional in various fields within Geosciences. My mother called me during the seminar and I silenced it. This was a particularly important seminar and I didn’t want to miss any of it. She called back a couple more times and I got very irritated, thinking that it had better be important for her to have been calling me so many times when I was clearly busy.

After the seminar, I told Sean I would meet him in the undergraduate lounge after I called my mom and got all my stuff together from my office across the hall. I called my mom back and knew something was wrong. She asked if I was sitting down and then said “it’s back”. Her breast cancer was back for now the third time and there were multiple tumors throughout her chest wall (she had a double mastectomy after the second time, hoping that would prevent it from coming back). Because it was the third time, and because of the locations and sizes of the tumors, the doctor’s said it was stage IV. She told me all of this and I immediately began crying. She told me she would be put on a trial drug with good results and that she was hopeful the tumors would shrink.

After we both cried and grieved together, fearful of the future and all the “what ifs”, we ended our call and I had to leave the safe confines of my cinderblock office with one window 20′ up. Not the picture of comfort I suppose when I think about it. But that phone call was one of the most special with my mother too. Not because of the news but because of how comforting she was. Because of how strong she sounded; determined to fight once again. She never ceases to amaze me.

I gathered my things and walked downstairs to the lounge. I punched in the code and opened the door and immediately Sean knew something was wrong. He asked and I burst out crying saying my mom’s cancer was back. If you didn’t think people can fly, then you just haven’t seen it yet. He flew out of his chair. I remember hearing the great sound it made as he did so and then the next thing I knew I was crying in his arms. He held me with a strength and safeness that I’d never experienced before. We sat outside on the deck of Derring Hall for a long time while I talked and cried and he just held me on the bench.

Sean cleared his schedule and plans and when I could hold myself together again, he took me home. He got me dinner and took care of me. His listened while I lamented and held me while I cried. He spent the night and was there when I woke up, so I knew I wasn’t alone. And then he stayed with me all the next day, as the weight of everything settled in.

I didn’t know it then, as I was thinking about my mom and the cancer and literally one trillion thoughts were running through my head…but when I look back I know. I remember in that moment of surprise seeing him leap out of his chair to run and comfort me, I knew I both loved him and wanted to be with him for the rest of my days.

That is what I have been thinking about all day. What I can’t stop thinking about. The sound of the chair as it flew backwards and Sean to me. And as I prepare to move in to what will be our first home together, I look back on that moment and smile because life is fucking hard and boy did I pick a damn good partner to go through it with.