Just as anything in life, love is unexpected. I met my girlfriend at a time where my focus wasn't on finding anyone and believe me, neither was hers. From the day we met, as cheesy and as typical that it sounds, our relationship just kicked it off. We'd spend almost everyday with each other: late night drives, talks until the sunrise and laughs until our stomachs aches. She was a keeper. We both had a rough past in our own lives before we met. Where the person we were at the time was a little lost, a little lonely and desperately in search of ourselves.
As the weeks went by, as much as we wanted to go slow, we got so caught up in the moment. We were so happy in each other's presence that everything happened so fast. We must have been dating for only a couple weeks until I was invited to meet her grandmother. On that day I figured "might as well meet the parents". (I supposed that it would only make sense to meet the parents before meeting the grandmother.)
So there I was, at her mother's store, waiting for both her mother and father to arrive. (Keep in mind that it takes a lot to stress me out but I couldn’t help it… I really wanted everything to go well). So then came the moment of truth, I started to hear the roar of a motorcycle approach, that was her mom and dad arriving with good old rock n' roll playing.
I had already seen her mom once before, nothing formal just a quick “hi” and “bye”. She was curious to meet the guy who was keeping her daughter out so late at night. I first went to greet her mom and then came time to meet her dad. I approached him to shake his hand as he was still getting off his motorcycle. As I stepped forward to shake his hand, he left me hanging only because he would not shake my hand while wearing his gloves. For him, shaking someone's hand with gloves on was a sign of disrespect. Therefore, he made sure to remove his gloves before greeting me. He was a man of great respect. It didn't take long to break the ice, her father started to share his travels with me. He told me about the time he went to Portugal, the experiences he's had and many more stories in between. As much as he enjoyed talking about his experiences he also took a great interest in me. After this great conversation, it was time to say our goodbyes and we parted ways. My girlfriend and I headed to go see her grandmother for the rest of the evening.
Two days after, we were doing our regular shifts at work while texting each other throughout the day. Everything seemed so great especially since I knew that her family really approved of me. Out of the blue, on that same day I got a call from her telling me that her dad had passed away.
The emotions that came to me at that point in time made me feel like the whole world paused for a second. I could not process what she had just told me.
Without even hesitating I left without even saying a word. It was tough. The happy, jolly, smiley girl I met was gone. We were surrounded by friends and family members minutes after hearing the news. Everyone came together to mourn but to also keep each other as strong as possible. And there I was… a stranger to everyone and practically meeting her entire family in the worst way imaginable.
The first few days were tough; I hadn't left her side for a second. Even if it meant sleeping on the couch, it didn't matter as long as I knew that I was there for her as soon as she wakes up. We were spending every second of everyday together. I had taken a couple days off work to be there for her family morally. Her mother who had only seen me twice, graciously gave me her hospitality to stay over so I can be there for her daughter.
As the days went by we got to know each other more than we could've ever expected in such a short period of time. I hadn't gone home in almost 2 weeks, I was not able to go home knowing someone I cared about needed me. I was there to keep her head high, to be her shoulder to cry on and most importantly to help her get through this tough time. Day by day she would look better and better. The smiles seemed bigger, she would laugh a little harder and she soon enough became the back bone to her family. She wouldn't accept to see her family sad. What I had become for her, she had become for her family. As I saw her miraculously feel better, I would see her make her family feel better and by seeing that would make me feel better. It was a beautiful cycle. I saw her becoming so strong, she hadn't even realized how strong of a person she was becoming and how strong she was making her family. She was always trying keep everyone's spirits high. With strength growing in her, she created strength in her mother and two brothers.
It's been 6 months since the incident. To this day I do not know how my girlfriend found her strength in getting through it. She still thanks me for being there for her and tells me how much I helped her to get through it. In those 6 months, I grew to love her, to love her mother and to love her brothers. And the other family members who met me on that day, who once saw me a stranger are also people that I've grown to love.
So starting off as two people who were not looking for love, who were in search of themselves and who've been through a lot in a short period of time. We've grown as a couple, as individuals, as a family and that's what makes it great.
You don't get to choose who and when to fall in love. You don't get to choose what happens to you in life or to others. What is important is that when something does happen, you make sure that you are the backbone for the people you care about the most.
So this Valentine's Day don't express your love to just that one special someone in your life. Express your love to all those who bring you happiness and be there for those who need you because that is what true love really is.