Monday, February 6, 2012

Chapter Thirty-Two: The Final Farewell

After an eternally long year, Spring finally rolled around and with the sun and fresh flowers, came bridal showers and sheer excitement about the day around the corner. We were given three beautiful bridal showers from my friends, family and Church family. I beamed wherever I went because at the front of my mind I knew that I was soon to be Mrs. Darin Gatsby. I thought constantly about becoming his bride and could not wait for July to come.

My parents and I took a trip to Houston, Texas on one of my breaks during college and found my wedding gown. Mom and I were in Saks Fifth Avenue and went to look at their dresses “just for fun” while we passed through. The bridal boutique was just perfect and when I laid eyes on my gown, I was in love. I tried it on first and it was like magic. I knew this was the dress I would be married in. It was gorgeous and everything I had envisioned.

I look back on that trip with my parents so fondly because it was the last time I took a trip in their care. The next trip I would take would be my honeymoon and I would be someone else’s. I would have a husband! I would be a real live grown up with a real live husband! It all just seemed too surreal.

Everything was falling perfectly into place with the wedding and wrapping up school. Things, for the most part, were pretty stress free and I was truly enjoying this chaotic, wonderful time in my life.

Graduation finally arrived, Darin’s first and mine a couple weeks after. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to the places and people that helped shape and mold us into who we were that day. College is such a refining period. A time of finding out who you are away from your family, stepping out of your comfort zone, making your own choices, and truly growing as a human being. By yourself. It is the most terrifying, exciting, humbling and absolutely necessary thing for a person transitioning into adulthood.

Walking away from that place that held so many emotions and memories for me over the past four years wasn’t difficult, because I knew it was time. I was eager to grow even more – this time, into a wife – a calling I knew I was meant for and now, that I was ready for. Those four years of college seemed like a couple of steppingstones in order to get there. They were steppingstones that I couldn’t have skipped because they were vital and crucial in shaping me. Had I missed those years, or skipped those steps, I know I would have splashed face first into the crazy waters of life and floundered around seeking help. But I had these years of refinement under me, and I truly felt ready to tackle the world with a husband at my side.

Though those years apart were difficult in every sense of the word, those years were huge for us. We grew a dependence on the Lord that neither of us had ever had. He was our constant Rock in the midst of all the emotions – from the sheer elation to the desperate frustration those years held. We perfected our communication skills in relying totally on each other to keep our part of our relationship alive. We didn’t have the technology that teens have today, so we had to be creative with how we showed each other we cared – we wrote letters, we e-mailed, we sent care packages, we used phone cards and cherished each moment that we got to hear the other one’s voice! We learned the meaning and value of trust. We learned so much about one another from being apart. We were forced to learn and grow in ways that most couples aren’t challenged to do so, simply from the ease of being together.

These years weren’t always fun, but they were crucial. And they were a huge part of shaping our relationship into the sweet, precious gift that the Lord blessed us with. And as we walked across our separate stages, received our different diplomas and drove away from our own Alma Maters, we knew we did it all exactly as God had planned for us. And we wouldn’t have changed a thing.