The story of how Rob and I met sounds like a Nicholas Sparks novel and is somewhat hard to believe. But I assure you, everything I am about to tell you is true; no exaggeration, just something short of a miracle. The beginning of our story is a little hard to write. I wish I could tell you a story that starts with a love at first sight, hearts and butterflies but it’s not.
In the middle of the first quarter of middle school I met one of my closest friends, Katie Tummon. Like many middle school girls, we got in trouble together, told each other secrets and giggled over boys. Two boys in particular who rode the bus with Katie. Ian was a curly haired, green eyed, guitar playing skateboarder who loved to tell us wild stories to keep our attention, Katie’s in particular. The three of us became close friends but there was a fourth quieter, wavy haired boy who barely made his presence known.
Katie would joke with me about this quiet boy and would run around outside the portables asking people “have you seen Robby? Where is Robby?” She was constantly looking for him for the two of us to be introduced. And every day after the final bell rang, we ran around asking people “have you seen Robby?” I never understood why she was so adamant about Robby and I being introduced but she kept telling me “you need to be with Robby.”
The evening of April 25th, 2002, Katie was riding her bicycle on the sidewalk when a man on his cell phone, not paying attention, struck her. When I received the call I did not want to believe it. She was only fourteen. I watched in horror as they reported it on the ten o’clock news, there was no denying it after that. I screamed “why?” towards my ceiling desperately wanting God to answer. That night I lost one of my closest friends and it changed my life forever.
The next morning my bus arrived to school earlier than usual, we were the only bus that had arrived. I sat at the front of our school waiting for her bus to get there just as I had for weeks before.
I sat listening to the whistle of the palm trees, praying that she would walk off the bus with a new story to tell me. My thoughts were interrupted by the hiss of the bus brakes. It wasn’t Katie who met me off the bus; it was the quiet, wavy haired boy Katie wanted me to meet. He grabbed me, held me close to him and cried on my shoulder.
By that time the faculty had learned of our loss and began to push us away from the bus turnaround and towards our classes.
Those of us who were friends with Katie were walked to the media center for counseling. Robby held my hand and walked with me to the media center where my other friends were. We sat around the blacktopped tables trying to make ourselves laugh with stories of Katie and for a while it worked.
In between our stories we sat in silence. I looked over to the quiet, wavy haired boy next to me in his Hawaiian shirt and watched the tears roll down his cheeks and onto the blacktopped tables. I didn’t know that it was possible for my heart to break more than it already had, but it did watching him. And I knew there was nothing I could say to ease his pain.
It was Spirit Week so our daily routine was interrupted by different activities. After spending time in the media center, we were sent to our classes.
Robby and I walked hand in hand out of the media center and separated to go to our classes. We weren’t separated for very long. We ended up at the same activities at the same time, each time he walked over to me and held my hand. From that point we were inseparable.
Because I was a year ahead of Robby, that May we were separated when I went onto high school. We went to magnet art schools that required a try-out, interview and intense portfolio. Word got around that our Communications department was going to be scratched from the program, so Robby never tried out for the high school.
Every morning and afternoon of my freshman year of high school I waited to see my quiet, wavy haired boy on his bus stopping by to drop off and pick up the high schoolers. After freshman year, it became harder and harder to see him.
The magnet school program gathers kids from across the county, most of us had an hour or two ride to and from school in every different direction off the treasure coast of Florida. Rob went to his community high school while I stayed in the magnet program. He lived an hour away from me.
For the rest of high school I missed seeing him every morning and every afternoon on the bus. We had busy schedules between his football games and my after school art programs that we relied heavily on our telephones. I am sad to say I can count on one hand how many times I saw him after my freshman year, not for a lack of trying but because of the distance.
My first semester of my senior year of high school my mother told me “we are moving to Texas.” I fought her to the very end; I did not want to leave Rob behind. In January of 2006 we sold our house on Santa Cruz Ave. and lived out of our RV in Lion Country Safari, the local zoo. It was the only RV KOA Campground in the area.
That April, he was dropped off for prom (neither one of us had our drivers license yet) at the zoo and it made for an interesting photo session. We joked about how we could hear the lions a stones throw away from our site and the chimpanzees on the other side of us. I cherish those memories since we only saw each other one more time before I moved.
Rob decided that because I had been accepted to an art college in New York, New York and was going to call Dallas home we should go our separate ways. I felt as if I had lost my best friend, I knew that it was going to happen.
We had been having a long distance relationship for four years already so I did not understand why this would be any different. A week later I had my drivers license and drove the hour to his house with one of my close friends to say good-bye to the one person who had helped me hold myself together for the past four years.