Here in New England: A Wedding Story
Tim remembers that night, too. “I was seeing somebody else, but Kirsten didn’t know,” he says. “I felt sad. I was just in a different place.” So as life shifted around them, they found other mates; Kirsten married in her hometown church in 1995. “On my wedding day I stood in front of the mirror,” she says. “I clenched my hands and squeezed my eyes together. I hoped God would hear me. ‘Please,’ I prayed, ‘have Tim show up.’ He never did.” Tim learned of the wedding, and a year later he married, too: “I thought, How’d we let this happen? We always had this plan that one day we’d be together, and now this.”
Kirsten lived in Granby, Connecticut, keeping a secret box stuffed with every photo, every note, every letter from Tim hidden in her attic–not knowing that Tim had a box, too, filled with her pictures and letters, not knowing that he knew where she was living or that for years every time he drove through Connecticut he hoped somehow he’d see her walking by. She says simply of those years, “Not a day went by that I didn’t think about Tim and have regret. To live with regret is heavy. It’s hard.”
By 2003 Kirsten and her husband, John, had a son and a baby daughter. Despite living in what she calls “the perfect house in a wonderful neighborhood,” the marriage had been strained for some time. One evening while washing dishes, her husband told Kirsten that he was leaving. He was gone in the morning.
Kirsten moved back to New Hampshire with her children. She signed onto a Web site that connects former classmates, writing, “My husband left me for a blonde. Now living in Dublin.” A “message in a bottle” for Tim, she says. But the years passed, and the bottle, it seemed, was never found.
Tim and his wife also had a daughter, and their marriage was also on the rocks. “We were both very unhappy,” he remembers. In 2007, they separated and started on the path to divorce.
On a January evening in 2008, Kirsten opened her e-mail and found this message: “What’s up?” It was Tim. She didn’t know that those two words had taken him an entire day to write. “I sat down at the office,” Tim says. “I wrote her a long e-mail. I deleted it. I spent the whole day writing e-mails and deleting them. I did no work. Finally it was 5 p.m. I said, I have to send something. I typed ‘What’s up?’ I pressed send.”
Kirsten took a breath and typed back, “I’m good. You?” Tim told her about his family, making e-mail small talk, as he gingerly felt his way along a path of which he was unsure. “I sat there,” Kirsten remembers. “I said to myself, I’ve had this huge monkey on my back. I have a chance to tell him what I should have told him in Boston.
“I said, ‘I think you should sit down. I have something I want to tell you. Remember that time we met in Boston for dinner? I went to tell you something and I chickened out. I wanted to say, “You are the one. I’ve never stopped loving you.”‘ I touched the send key, and I felt this huge weight come off me. I kept waiting for a reply. Kept waiting. Kept waiting.” Kirsten didn’t know that Tim was crying. Finally he typed again, and the words flew back to Kirsten: “I love you, too.”
On a November day in 2008, Tim drove Kirsten back to their high school. “Twenty-five years ago today,” he said, “I saw you walk into the gym and knew you were the one. I’m sorry this is 15 years too late. But will you marry me?”
They set the date, December 20. A simple affair: parents, siblings, a few friends, the small church on the hill.