Welcome back to Thoughts & Musings! In today’s episode of “Love Story”, we have Jamie Chirio & Katie Kizer’s story, from Katie’s perspective. If this story doesn’t make you believe in love, I’m not sure what will… Enjoy!
---How We Met ---
Jamie is the most incredible man I have ever known. We met at the end of 2016, when I joined an amazing travel and adventure club that Jamie and his friends were the co-founders of. The company emphasized a culture of living a life that was worth talking about. I was encouraged to identify what my dream life looked like, and I was encouraged to take actions that would allow me to live it, now.
Over the course of 2017, I got connected with young entrepreneurs and passionate people all across the country. We had backyard BBQs and recreational tournaments. We attended conferences and learned both business principles and principles for living a good life. We traveled to Michigan and released our limiting beliefs, we traveled to Lake Powell and stayed on a houseboat for four days with 75 of our friends, we traveled to Santa Cruz to participate in an adventure race, and we threw a huge New Year’s Eve bash in Chicago. The individuals who were a part of this organization were and are loving, focused on serving others, and completely fired up about becoming their best in every way.
Over the course of that year, Jamie and I became friends. I was completely in awe of the character in which he approached others with. He exuded a humble confidence and he extended the most genuine love toward his friends, others in the organization, and to people in the community he had no connections with. Little did I know, Jamie was also in awe of who I was and what I was doing back home. Jamie lived in Michigan. I lived in Oregon. We saw each other a small handful of times that year, and we video chatted a few more than that. Each time, our conversations were easy, deep, and focused on love and growth.
---When We Started Dating---
At the end of the year, we both attended an event in Chicago to celebrate the New Year. That night, I had some amazing revelations about my personal journey and who I had become over the course of the last year and a half. In that state, a couple hours after the ball had dropped in the start of 2018, Jamie and I met each other on the dance floor. We were drawn to one another in a profound way. We danced the night away and went back to the house our friends were staying at early in the morning. Jamie made garlic chips out of tortillas with hummus. He brought it out, came and sat next to me, and put his arm around my shoulders. It was at that point I knew our connection on the dance floor was deeper than the hype of the New Year’s celebration.
Jamie and I spent the wee hours of the first day of the year cuddling, talking about our childhoods, and understanding one another in a way no one ever had. Jamie dropped me off at the airport later that day. As I landed in Oregon, I received a sweet text message about how much he enjoyed our time together that morning. My heart melted and I haven’t been able to wipe the giddy smile off of my face since then.
On January 1, 2018, our love story began. From day one, Jamie and I talked on video calls for HOURS each night, sharing the stories of our days and the thoughts and emotions coming up in those moments, exploring the underlying beliefs that were playing into our responses, asking each other questions that helped us grow, grow closer, and grow closer with God, laughing, crying, loving the whole way through. We knew right away that we were 100% in, committed, ready, and willing to embark on the most beautiful of partnerships together. Not even two weeks had gone by when I gazed into his eyes on a video call and told him that I was in love with him. We were feeling the same things for each other.
Over the course of the year, we spent the year traveling to visit one another in Oregon and in Michigan, as well as a few other places. We made a point to see each other every single month! Our relationship flourished, even when we were 2,000 miles apart. The love we share and the relationship that we have created together is even more beautiful than the way I first dreamed it could be when I wrote down what living a life worth talking about meant to me at the end of 2016. We get to travel. We get to share incredible moments with incredible people all over the world. We get to grow together. And we have a deep and meaningful connection and love.
---How He Proposed---
I flew to Michigan for the holidays to be with Jamie and his family. It was wonderful to be able to meet everyone and to spend quality time together. A few days after Christmas, we took a trip up north with fifteen of our friends. Jamie rented this incredible Air B and B right on the lake. It is much colder in Michigan than in Oregon, so the lake was actually frozen solid! The views were absolutely breathtaking!
We spent December 30th and 31st on the "mountain" (it is actually a hill with snow on it compared to west coast skiing mountains). I was snowboarding, and so in my element! Jamie was skiing and having a blast too! On our last run before we were going to head back to the car, we decided to split off and go down two parallel runs and meet at the bottom. I got to the bottom and looked up the hill for Jamie. I didn't see him, but I heard someone yelling for help. Our friends were in better view of the hill and were also looking up with concern. I ran toward our friends to find out what they were looking at, in fear that it might be Jamie hollering. As I approached our friends, it became clear that it was in fact him, and that he was not in fact, okay. I threw my snowboard down and began running up the ski hill as fast as I could. (THANK GOODNESS I TEACH CARDIO DANCE TWICE A WEEK!)
When I got to where he was, ski patrol had just arrived. I guess he over-carved and had his skis pointed up the hill. As he tried to turn back over at a super slow pace, his right ski got stuck in the snow, but his body kept twisting and trying to go down the hill. Unfortunately, this twisted his knee something fierce. He was wincing and in near tears. It was so hard to see him in pain. Ski patrol had to give him a ride down in the sled. We ended up at the med station, and most of the friend group did too.
By that time it started snowing, like blizzard snowing. We had to figure out whose gear was in whose car. We had to make sure all of it got back to where it needed to be, rentals vs. the house we were staying at. We also had to arrange for one of our Michigan friends to drive us, in the snow, to the hospital so Jamie could go to the emergency room. Turns out the hospital was an HOUR away. The weather continued to pour wet cold stuff down the entire time. We got 8+ inches in three hours. The roads weren't ideal, but fortunately our friend was a pro. Despite his safe driving, we were still rear ended at a stop sign on the way to the hospital. Nothing terrible, but it definitely added to the intensity of the evening.
When we got to the emergency room, we found out he did not have any broken bones, but would need to get an MRI. They fixed him up with a brace that immobilizes his knee and some crutches. We found out that he would likely need surgery. That night, when we finally got back to the Air B and B, everything that had happened set in. We laid in bed and cuddled, feeling completely overwhelmed, but so grateful it was nothing worse. Recognizing that this was going to keep Jamie off of his feet, off of the road, and needing a great deal of assistance, there was a lot of concern in his heart about how he was going to manage on his own; I was supposed to fly home on the 4th. As we laid there, I reveled in the deep love I have for this man and the strong desire to ease any discomfort he was feeling, and I was struck with a brilliant idea that literally had me shoot up into a seated position in bed.
I was going to stay in Michigan. I wasn't going to leave my sweetie. There is no place else I would rather be, than together. And together needed to be right here, right now.
At the very moment in which I shared this with Jamie, a single tear rolled out of his eye and down his cheek. "You love me that much?"
"Yes, I do." I have, since day one, been this in love with this man. His strong connection and his willingness to be present in my life in every way, despite thousands of miles of physical separation, has made me feel so safe, so loved, and so in love. Although this knee injury is a major bummer, I am completely humbled and honored to be given the opportunity to demonstrate my love for this man, and to care for him in a more intimate way as his knee heals.
We had been praying about where we should live in 2019. All we knew was that we wanted to be together. Oregon? Michigan? Washington? Together. It was almost as if this was God's way of bringing us together, so we were not forced to make the decision ourselves. There was a sense of calmness and peace that night as Jamie drifted off to sleep.
I was wide awake, wrapping my brain around the changes that were about to take place in my life. The moonlight illuminated the frozen lake outside our bedroom window. The 8+ inches of fresh snow sparkled in every direction. I opened the curtains and gazed at the beauty surrounding me. I talked to God, and He talked to me. Today was a big day. And I knew that tomorrow, January 1st, 2019 was going to be a big day, too.
The next morning, we woke up seeing a glorious, orange-tipped sunrise on the snowy lake. Snow hung on the evergreen trees and the clouds gently moved with a crisp breeze. We propped Jamie's leg up on the love seat and iced his knee. We looked out the window with some of our friends. I sipped on some coffee and wrote in my journal. More of our friends woke up as the morning rolled in. We made breakfast and played board games. We showered and got cute for the day since we planned to take some pictures in the snow later that afternoon.
Jamie and I are connected in a way that we can feel what the other person is feeling in a profound kind of way. Even when I am in Oregon and he is in Michigan, our moods, thoughts, and experiences are quite tuned to the same frequency. So, on that day, in the same room with the love of my life, I could just FEEL that something big was coming. Jamie and I locked eyes from across the house with each other and the love we share was felt so strongly. We got the squad all organized and went out on the deck for family pictures. Again, the setting was gorgeous! After a few group photos, it was time to do a few couples photos. Since Jamie was on crutches, in the snow, they let us go first. I knew it wasn't really about the pictures, though.
As we walked deeper onto the deck in the fresh snow, wearing our cute winter outfits, feeling all the love for one another, understanding the decision and commitment we made to one another the night before, Jamie looked into my eyes and told me I was his best friend, he wanted to share our lives together, and he asked me if I would marry him, using my first and last name. I responded with a calm and genuine yes I would, using his first and last name, as well. Our photographer friends got the entire thing on camera. The shots are incredible. After the proposal I went around and got to hug each and every other friend who was there with us in that moment. And it dawned on me that being up in the snow, in a cozy cabin, surrounded by an abundance of friends, knowing how loved and beautiful we are, being intensely and divinely connected with an incredible man, was my dream, and I was and am living it. Tears of gratitude and wonder gushed out of my eyes. It was absolutely perfect.
---What’s Next For Us---
Since then, Jamie and I have been back at his place in Michigan, navigating the journey to knee recovery. We recently attended his sixth doctor's appointment since the injury. It turns out he has five different things going on from the accident. A couple sprains of ligaments, a couple bone fractures within the knee joint, some bruising, and a torn meniscus. Fortunately, most of these will heal on their own. Unfortunately, the meniscus is not one of them. The doctor thinks he will need surgery, but would like the other problems to improve before he goes in. We were given some exercises Jamie can do to strengthen his leg muscles surrounding his knee in the meantime. He has another appointment in one week where he will receive a new brace that allows a tiny bit of a bend to take place. We will reassess the surgery situation at that point. The doctor will know which of the two types of surgery it may require - the one with a 4-6 month recovery OR the one with a 4-6 week recovery.
It has been such a blessing to be gifted extra time together that we didn’t know we were going to have! Our plans, at this moment, are to be in Michigan during this knee recovery time. As soon as Jamie's knee allows, we will be headed back to Oregon!
Until then, we are continuing to grow in our understanding of one another, our connection, and in our love for one another. We feel so grateful and we are so excited for this next chapter in our lives! We will be getting married in Oregon this July!!
I feel so blessed that we get to walk together, with God, today, and for the rest of our lives.
Love and blessings to you all!
Cheers from the future Mrs. Chirio,