It was a cold December day when I first realized what was about to happen. My entire family was in the van as we trekked to Richard's house. His mother was my piano teacher, and it was time for my yearly recital. I told them they didn't need to come, but my parents insisted.
Just three months before my brother had started courting my best friend, and ever since our conversations had naturally turned in the direction of courtship. That evening was no different.
"You know, we've got one taken care of," Mom turned back and grinned at me teasingly, "And it won't be long before a second one's gone."
I recognized the teasing tone, but with that one sentence my world started spinning. It wasn't much, but somehow in that instant I knew, really knew, for the first time in my life, that Richard was the one I'd been waiting for. Somehow I also realized that he knew the same thing and was at that very moment working as hard and as fast as he could toward the goal of marrying me. I suspected he had already talked to my parents, and that was what made my mom say what she had.
(It wasn't until much later that I found out that on that cold December day things weren't nearly as far along as I suspected. It wasn't until the next evening that Richard would even talk to his parents--and several weeks before he would speak to mine. )
I was floored. I'd wondered a few times, of course, if Richard was the one I was waiting for--but that wasn't saying much. Like most single people there is always an unspoken question in a friendship with the opposite gender, "Are YOU the one I'm waiting for?" The fact that I'd wondered this about Richard didn't put him in any more of a special category than a handful of other quality Christian young men I'd known over the years.
The part that set my world to spinning was the realization that he actually wanted me. Like all young women, I'd wondered who my prince was... but somehow I never really expected him to come. And I certainly hadn't expected him to take the form of a man who had, in many ways, become the pinnacle of what I found admirable in manhood.
It might be expected that the revelation that evening would have left me ecstatic. Not so. In fact, I was horrified. I knew Richard, through his family, was friends with a number of godly young women. Any one of them, in my opinion, would have been a better choice than me. By the time we returned home that evening I had convinced myself that my best friend was about to make the biggest mistake of his life. As I confided in my journal:
"I'm just his best friend, his sister--somebody who stands by his side until she needs to stand to the side to make way for somebody more important. And that's okay. It is what I expected, what I signed up for, and it isn't fair to ask or want more."
In my mind, whether or not he was everything I'd ever wanted and more was entirely beside the point. The point was that as his best friend it was my responsibility--my sacred duty--to protect Richard, even if that meant protecting him from himself. Even if, in some twisted way, it meant protecting him from myself.
But God had other plans, and He was about to reveal them to me in just a few more days....
Part One: October 20, 1999
Part Two: The Highschool Years
Part Three: The First Moments
Part Four: Everything Grows
Part Five: A Threestrand Cord
Part Six: And how it Broke
Part Seven: Love is Pain