I was actually getting used to going to the library everyday and learning what the Internet was all about, I had no idea what I was missing until I got my own computer. A whole new world had been opened up to me. It was somewhat overwhelming, but exciting at the same time. The thought of being able to talk to someone on the other side of the world without calling them on the telephone or writing a letter was a fascinating concept.
Thankfully, I had a friend who helped me "learn the ropes" and took me into some chat rooms and introduced me as a "newbie." I said hello and was welcomed with open arms by the other people in the chat room. Such strange and unusual names, but what was the strangest part to me was that some people were actually addressing each other by their given names, not their screen names.
For months I ventured into the same chat room and got to know the people on the other side of those names quite well. We chatted into the early hours of the morning on some occasions, on other occasions, we had a short but sweet chat session, ending it with our goodbyes until the next day.
There were men and women in the chat room, but one man in particular caught my attention. He was witty, charismatic, intelligent; a real charmer. He didn't pick favorites, he spoke with everyone and was always polite and courteous. He sent me an instant message just to say hello. He introduced himself as John, and said he was from the same area as me, and we discovered he was actually only a few miles away from me in the next town.
There was a mystery about him, or at least I felt there was. Perhaps it was because I had never seen his face, perhaps it was because he was someone I might have met on the street and didn't even know it.
We ended up talking every night. After about two months he asked if I wanted to meet him. I was a bit nervous because of all the bad stories I had heard about people meeting other people from the Internet and being hurt or killed. He assured me I had nothing to worry about and proceeded to give me his full name, address and telephone number. Then he said I could choose the place for us to meet, he didn't want me to feel pressured into meeting in a possibly unfamiliar area.
Naturally, I was still nervous, but I agreed. I passed the information he gave me on to my roommate and told her where we would be, just in case. It turns out he was right and I had nothing to worry about.
We met in January, shortly after the new year, at a local restaurant not too far from either of us. I was standing in the doorway of the restaurant when a man approached me, he smiled and reached out his hand while introducing himself.
John was one of the most handsome men I had ever met. He had shoulder length sandy blonde hair and emerald green eyes. He stood about six feet tall and had a muscular build. Yes, sounds like a typical description that men give when in chat rooms, but in his case, it was true. When he spoke, I could detect a slight accent, perhaps British or Irish, and I asked him about it. He said he was originally from London, but moved to the United States with his parents when he was a boy.
It was around two in the afternoon when we met at the restaurant, and we had gotten so caught up in talking that we completely lost track of the time and when we left, it was nearing eight o'clock. He walked me to my car and we said our goodbyes. We met for lunch everyday after that. On the weekends, we would catch a movie or just sit at home and talk.
He was always a perfect gentleman. After six months of dating, I told him I was falling in love with him. He confessed that he felt the same way. The day after we told each other how we felt, he came by with a dozen long stemmed red roses and a small package. I let him in and greeted him with a kiss on the cheek. He handed me the roses and led me to the living room where he sat me down on the sofa.
He handed me the small package he was holding and asked me to open it. The package was the size of a ring box and I had a pretty good idea of what was inside. He got down on one knee and took my hand in his.
John took the ring and placed it on my ring finger on my left hand and said, "My heart belongs to you now, Sheryl. I give you this ring as a promise that I will never leave you. I love you and I want to spend the rest of my life with you." While he was still holding my hand, he reached up with the other and wiped away my tears, he kissed me gently and asked, "Will you marry me?"
I looked at the ring then at him. I was speechless. Here was the man of my dreams, down on one knee, proposing marriage to me. I thought I was dreaming. Of course, I accepted, and told him, "I love you, too."
A few days later, we began talking about plans for the wedding, when we would get married, where it would be and who we would invite. He seemed rather distant, and when I asked him what was wrong, he smiled and said he misses his parents since they moved back to London recently, but he knew he would get to see them again soon. We decided to have the wedding in September, two weeks before my 31st birthday. As the day approached, the plans fell into place and everything was going smoothly.
On the day before the wedding I received a phone call. It was a nurse from the local hospital. She told me that John was in a car accident. There was apprehension in her voice. Was there something more she wasn't telling me? Or something I did not want to hear? I didn't ask but hung up the phone and rushed to the hospital to be by his side.
When I arrived at the hospital and approached John's bed, I was shocked to see the condition he was in. His head was wrapped in gauze and he had a breathing tube coming out of his mouth. There were machines everywhere that helped him breathe and monitored his brain waves and his heart. It wasn't an easy sight to deal with. I left his bedside long enough to go to the waiting room and call my parents. My mother answered and I told her what happened and asked her to get in touch with John's parents some how. They had flown in from London for the wedding and I told her what hotel they were staying at. After she made the appropriate phone calls, she and my dad came to the hospital to be with me.
A police officer came into the room shortly after I returned, introduced himself and said he wanted to explain to me what had happened. I didn't want to leave John's side, but eventually I complied. We went to the waiting room, I got myself a cup of coffee and sat down at a table in the corner of the room waiting for the police officer to join me.