It was the summer of 2008, and we had no clue that we would meet. It’s amazing how God brings people together! On the last two days of our Seventh-day Adventist International Camporee in Jamaica we met for the very first time.
I was with a friend from Bahamas and he started introducing me and my other friend (K Dominic Mckenzie) to a few of his friends from Grand Cayman. He quickly mentioned that one of the young ladies (Aimee Welcome) had a sister. They spotted her across the field, and called her over, pulling her attention away from the drum corps battle that was taking place. Watching this young lady walking over to us, I immediately noticed she had the most beautiful smile I had ever seen. Amidst the loud drums, my surroundings blurred as I became captivated by her. I felt myself being drawn even closer, as she told me her name. At that time, we were both dating other people, but we knew we wanted to be friends. So, we decided to keep in touch and stay “pen pals” for a while. Little did we know that this encounter would set us on an unexpected journey of true love.
Almost every day we sought to spend some time together, whether it was through Skype, messenger, email, Facebook, or even OOVOO (which had just come out around that time). We were getting closer as friends, as we openly shared our good and not so great experiences about our days, our families and our friends. We even found ourselves giving advice to each other about various issues we were dealing with in our relationships. Our first and longest phone conversation lasted the whole night, just before Delano’s first day of University at NCU. We could never seem to run out of things to talk about. Soon enough it was quite clear to us that what we wanted most of all was each other’s happiness.
The day before Valentine's, Delano asked me if I’d consider being his valentine and also his girlfriend...over the phone. It was almost unavoidable, as we were still in separate countries. I was so stunned, and for a moment, I was speechless. I thought of the difficulties of entering a long-distance relationship, especially since it was all new to me. Yet, I also thought of the many moments I couldn’t sleep without at least finding out how he was doing. I knew it would be a challenge, but I decided that he had already proven that he was worth it. Breaking the somewhat awkward silence, I agreed to honor his request. He shared his gratitude, and we ended our conversation with hopes of meeting again in person someday soon.
We met for the first time in person as boyfriend/girlfriend, and we experienced our first kiss. However, we only had one day together as Candace urgently needed to head back to Jamaica to apply for her student visa before attending Andrews University in the fall.
Having met at the end of our high school lives, it was time to take on the journey of University. Maintaining a long distance relationship during University didn’t come without its challenges, but with prayer and determination, somehow we made it through despite all the odds that were against us. We stayed in touch and tried to have worship every morning before classes. Communication played an important role in the development of our relationship…to the point where we often fell asleep while on Skype calls at nights. Delano always found free ways to make sure we remained connected. On our anniversaries we would have a special dinner via Skype, discuss the challenges and successes we had over that year and open gifts that we each sent weeks in advance to celebrate the occasion. We made sure to treat every birthday and any other special occasion in the same way, especially if we were unable to see each other in person. Thankfully, the days are gone where sending letters and telegrams were practically the only way to get a message half way across the world, as no doubt, this would have made it much more difficult and almost impossible to keep our relationship afloat. If we could invite the inventors of Skype to our wedding, we certainly would, as their software really made communicating easier, to not only hear but see each other in real time. This was a true blessing, and made us still feel close even from a distance.
Having Skype was great, but being able to see each other in person was undoubtedly better. For a college student with no real steady income, plane tickets weren't exactly cheap. Yet, every holiday, one of us would be on a plane to see the other, and even before our visits were over, we would find ourselves planning for the next one. This ‘state of planning’ (as we’d like to call it) really helped us look forward to our future together, and gave us hope that we would indeed see each other again despite the distance. As the years went by, it became harder and harder to say goodbye. Our visits became longer and more often, and we soon became inseparable.
We had our first real date in Jamaica during one of my visits to see Delano. He wanted so much to surprise and impress me as we had never really been out on a date before. So, we got all dressed up, and without a car, we walked to the nicest restaurant in town and had dinner. Then we walked over to the cinema to watch ‘Planet of the Apes’, and walked back home, where we danced under the stars, while the only other light that shone was from the street light-post in front of Delano’s family’s home.
She was finally ready to walk! This weekend was quite the celebration, and it was also the first time we flew together. We were so happy to have one less reason to say goodbye, instead of watching one of us walk through airport security until we were no longer in sight.
After Candace’s graduation, she continued her studies in Atlanta. I came to visit her, and during one or our afternoon walks to Atlantic Station, there was a moment when I looked at her and I thought to myself, “if I’m really serious about this girl, its time to pop the question”. I just needed the right moment. It may have taken a while, but I eventually found it… keep reading.
During this time of grief for me and my family, it was such a blessing to know that Delano was willing to spare no expense to just be there to comfort me when I needed him most. Even with the difficulties of sorting out immigration travel documents, somehow Delano found a way to be there by my side, having had only two weeks notice of my Dad’s funeral date.
This was a fundamental stage in our relationship where we could see the true depths of our commitment and love for each other beginning to unfold.
This was a time of great celebration for Delano, his sister (Rochelle), and his Mom (Mrs. Myers). We all celebrated together and it was great to meet and greet with much of his family and friends. After all the festivities, for the first time, we travelled to multiple countries together...traveling quickly became one of the ways we experienced our most treasured memories.
On one of Delano’s regular visits, he finally popped the question. Although I had a hint that he wanted to propose, I wasn’t quite sure exactly when. Apparently, he had made the mistake of sending me a photo of the ring, but this was quickly intercepted by my mom (affectionately known as Mrs. Christine). That day we went out to watch the movie ‘The Hobbit’ at Camana bay, which was one of our favorite pastimes. Knowing that I loved to watch the ending credits just in case there was one more part to the movie, Delano had prepared a ‘movie trailer’ to be shown on the cinema screen asking me to marry him. At the ending, he got down on one knee and feeling a bit nervous he stammered through his words, while revealing this beautiful engagement ring made from my favorite color and birthstone - topaz. I was so touched by his unique proposal, but in my heart I already knew he was the one! Since then, we’ve been preparing ourselves for this new and exciting adventure of marriage, and eagerly looking forward to celebrating our BIG day!
K Dominic McKenzie