She wrote him, he wrote her. The most authentic words, traveling from one heart, across the Pacific to another. And then he sent a message of clarification.
“I can’t do the girlfriend relationship thing because you live so far away… it’s too difficult… If you were here I would definitely want to ask you out… I like sharing our thoughts… But just as friends.” She read those words and the wall of fear once guarding her heart shot back up, but not all the way. Not enough to keep the next message from him.
“I definitely feel a connection to you even though we have never met. But I don’t think I can be in a relationship right now anyway (WALL)… It is too scary to think of letting anyone get that close to me. Although you are someone I could see changing my mind (CRACK IN THE WALL).”
She agreed that yes, long distance is hard. Then, from this place of new-found confidence and commitment to her own worth, she replied.
“The thing is, I am looking for a guy who would do “hard” because I am worth it! Every relationship will be challenged with something “hard” even if it’s not distance. And if I ever love again, it will be someone who would do “hard” for me as I would for him.” She hit send and then took her wild heart for a run on the trails. To her surprise, he conceded in his next message that it was essential for the survival of any relationship that both people were committed to “doing hard” and that “you would have to trust me as I you.”
And the walls came tumbling back down.
True love had found her, and she knew she loved him. She couldn’t believe that she ever thought anything that she had before was LOVE now that she knew the real thing! Maybe the world would call them crazy! How could they know after 3 days? How could they know if they had never met?! It’s called faith.
Neither had ever touched or seen God but they both knew He loved them, and they reacted in faith by loving Him in return.
Now she knew in part… but she hoped for the day she would look in his eyes, and in that moment the fight to keep the faith in true love would all be worth it. All of her tears were not a waste. Someday she would look in his eyes, and the crazy would all make perfect sense.
Over the next few months, they learned to trust one another with their dreams for the future, their scars from the past, their favorite songs, good and bad memories, race disappointments and victories, and the words in their hearts, poured onto paper and typed into messages. His words and her words, overlapping.
“I never met anyone like you,” he told her. “We’re on the same page. Others were always chapters apart.”
Which is why the distance was hard, but not “too difficult” (it sucked, royally)! The different time zones were a challenge, as were different work schedules. She worked 9 to 5pm on the East Coast. He worked 2 to 10pm in Hawaii. He went into work one hour after she finished her work day. His long days of training for hours and her fears still lingering from a past of being betrayed, combined with misinterpreted text messages and missed phone calls, well it all stretched them… Much like a speed workout stretches us to the point of uncovering a stronger athlete.
Weekly phone dates took planning. Communication skills were critical. Time was too sacred to waste it saying one thing while meaning another. Words were precious!
“You’re on my mind
Sleep alone tonight
Sendin’ all my love
Along the wire… I’m forever yours, faithfully”
She knew he loved her with his whole soul the night they talked on the phone for five hours and 35 minutes straight, as one talks to their best friend after a busy season of losing touch. The conversation came to an end only because her phone died. And so it went for months. Messages and phone calls. With every message, old dreams showed signs of life. Phone calls only ended when someone’s phone would die.
Apart they had been leaning into so many dreams for so long. Pushing and believing for doors to creak open. As they learned to trust one another, they leaned into those dreams together. Dreams about life on the Big Island and sunsets ending in a flash of emerald, and running ultras and writing stories worth telling. Living stories worth telling!
They drew out of one another beauty and strength greater than either could have imagined they possessed. The brand of fearless strength required to run the HURT 100 trail race in January!
He was the one who found her in this new place of self-assurance and dedication to her own song, and loved her for it. So after she had stood up to someone who hurt her on a particularly hard night in November, she called him from a hotel room in North Carolina and confessed that she loved him.
He knew she loved him with her whole soul before she ever uttered those words. He knew she loved him when she purchased the plane ticket to fly over for HURT, his very first 100 miler.
He flew from the Big Island to Oahu for HURT 100. She flew through the night to meet him face to face. Even though the biggest race of his life was one day away, he would be up early, waiting for her at baggage claim. As she walked down the stairs, following the baggage claim sign, she realized she had been holding her breath, the same way she did when she stood on the start line waiting for an important race to begin.
She had been holding her breath. For how long? Perhaps her whole life! She saw him before he saw her, sitting on a bench in his Konawaena hoodie, wearing a trucker hat with monstera leaves on the front. He was there on the bench, and then he was holding her. She had run across the airport, called his name, kissed him in front of all the half-asleep tourists with their suitcases and backpacks. In his arms, she let out a sigh, no longer holding her breath and waiting for life to start. He looked into her eyes, and the crazy finally made perfect sense. You can know you love someone after 3 days. You can even know you love someone before you meet them.
The two stopped kissing long enough to grab her suitcase off the belt and find the rental car. There in the parking garage, he kissed her again, while “I’m Forever Yours” played as if on cue, from somewhere outside, and the sun rose up over Diamond Head. The start of a new day. The start of forever.