It had only been a few months since she turned 20 years old and had had that dream. It had seemed so real and yet so far from reality that she had brushed it off, yet couldn’t seem to forget it completely.
Growing up in a small town on a tropical island, the child of a rather wealthy and influential family meant being sheltered from the hardships of life, but it also meant being sheltered from some of the experiences we take for granted.
On that warm August Sunday she headed to church with her two best friends. Although she had grown up Catholic, at the age of 16 her father had converted to Baptist. It was a sad day in her eyes when the switch was made because now dancing was out of the question, although it was one of her favorite pastimes.
Most of her friends were still headed to the Catholic church, but she had never had a hard time making new friends. As she chatted and found her seat, on a pew several rows back from the front of the church, she realized that there were several new people in the church on this particular Sunday.
She scanned the crowd and lo and behold, there in the front row was the dark headed stranger she had seen in her dream.
In the dream she had only seen the stranger from the back. As she looked at him now, still only seeing the back of his head, she was sure that he was the one she had been wondering about since having the dream a few months before.
After the church service, she realized that she might never again get the chance to make a connection with this stranger. Because of the dream, she was convinced that she had to approach him. But how does a 20 year old, sheltered girl who had never been on a date without a chaperone tagging along, confront a man who stood up after church to reveal his United States army uniform, a man who appeared more worldly than what she was used to.
As he talked to some of his buddies, the minister joined them, chatting with the group, welcoming them and inviting them to return often. As the group of soldiers turned to leave, she approached the stranger and introduced herself. She handed him a piece of paper with her phone number written on it while she explained that she had two brothers who would be happy to show him and his friends around town if they were ever interested. She pointed out her two very tall, handsome brothers through the crowd and then excused herself.
Of course, a couple of days later, the stranger called the number on the slip of paper, not to get a tour of the charming city from her brothers, but to see if she had any interest in going out for a walk and maybe some dinner. She said she would have to see if one of her siblings or a neighbor could accompany them, as she was still not allowed out on a date without a chaperone. Although he found that odd, he realized he was in a different world and would have to follow the customs here if he wanted to see the dark haired beauty again, away from church.
As she hung up the phone, she danced around with joy. Although she tried to tell her brothers that she had only given out the phone number so the stranger could call them, they knew as she did, that she was hoping to get a call just like the one she was now finishing.
Eventually they went out, chaperone in tow. After seeing each other in church, going to movies, to meals and on long walks around the town square, she realized that this was “the one.” Her dream of a dark haired stranger in the front row at church was a sign- this was the person she wanted to marry.
After three months of dates, always with someone else tagging along, the stranger, who was no longer a stranger but the love of her life, told her that he was being transferred back to the US, to Texas to be exact. He told her that he had really enjoyed his time on the island, how thankful he was that he had learned Spanish in his youth and that he would never forget her.
And with that he was gone.
Soon after, letters began to arrive. He wrote as often as he could and she answered back quickly every time a letter arrived. After three months of dating in person and three months of letter exchanges, a small package arrived.
What was inside would change her life forever, in some ways for the better but also in ways that she could never have imagined as she opened the small package sitting on her lap.
With a deep breath, she tore the paper off of the package and opened the box inside.