Five years ago today Philip asked me to marry him. He nervously got down on one knee, took my hand in his, and asked me to spend the rest of my life with him. I quickly replied "I'll think about it", followed by an emphatic "YESSS!" And the rest, as they say, is history.
Shopping for wedding bands in NYC
Our love story is probably no different than most. Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl's apartment gets destroyed by violent hurricane and girl moves in with boy.... Ya know, the usual.
Five months after we started dating, Hurricane Sandy decimated the east coast. Unfortunately I was one of the thousands who lost everything. I remember Philip and I driving down the streets in my neighborhood in the days following the storm. I lived on Randall's Bay, three blocks from the well-known Nautical Mile in South Freeport, Long Island. It was a quiet waterfront strip in the winter months, and a bustling hot spot in the summers. Philip would take a bus, a train, and then another bus from New York City out to Long Island to see me every weekend. We spent practically every Sunday on the Nautical Mile, laughing, eating, and falling in love.
Philip held my hand as we drove down the storm-ravished streets, both of us in shock at all the devastation before us. Trees uprooted, roofs ripped off homes... but somehow I was convinced my little apartment would be okay. That is, until we opened the front door and found that 9 feet of storm surge had literally wiped out everything in my home. I was cemented in place, unsure I was really seeing what was before me. Cliché, I know, but it was something out of a movie. A bad, horrible horror movie that I wanted no parts of.
I walked outside and stooped down on the leaf covered driveway and sobbed. The sobbing turned to crying, and the crying turned to a gut wrenching scream. Philip ran outside, crouched down beside me and whispered "It's okay babe. I got you. You're gonna be okay".
He did have me, and I was going to be okay.
An uprooted tree in Freeport, NY after Hurricane Sandy
A few days after the hurricane, I moved into Philip's room he rented in a basement in Queens. No, not a studio apartment, folks. A room. One, single solitary room, with a mold-laden bathroom at the end of the hall. The room was just enough space for a full size bed and a TV stand. The transition wasn't easy but some how we made it work. We would lie on our broken futon at night while our landlord's bathroom shower leaked on the ceiling above us, and we'd tell ourselves that one day it wouldn't be like that. One day we'd look back at all of it and laugh.
Three months after I moved in, Philip asked me to marry him. We quickly planned a wedding for that July, partly because we were excited to be married, and partly because his brother would be in NY visiting from Barbados that summer. Wedding planning is not for the faint of heart, and it certainly isn't any better when you try to cram it into a 5 month span, but Philip would constantly remind me that we were going to be okay, just have faith.
And we got through the wedding planning, and we were okay.
Our wedding day, like most, was a complete blur. At our reception we drank too much, danced too hard, and cheered all night as our DJ (a good friend from college) played "We Found Love in a Hopeless Place". That was our favorite song.
We were okay.
Tipsy at our wedding reception- July 27, 2013
Then we came down from the wedding high. I lost my job in January 2014, a week before my birthday and less than 6 months after our wedding. Surviving off of unemployment checks wasn't easy, but we saved our pennies, said our prayers, and kept ourselves focused on the bigger plan at hand. In August 2014 we left the smelly old room in the basement and moved to an apartment in Connecticut. Halleluiah, we were finally above ground! Adjusting to suburban life wasn't easy, but we already knew that if we could face a hurricane, survive questionable living conditions, and get through the loss of a job together, by the grace of God we could get through anything.
Fast forward to today, and we're the happiest we've been. That's not to say we've been without setbacks. I had an unplanned C-section after 44 hours of labor, our camera and computer decided to break 2 months into starting our photography business, and my mother passed away unexpectedly days before Thanksgiving last year. Trust me, it hasn't all been roses.
But we've gotten through it, and we are okay.
I am grateful that God brought Philip into my life, and grateful that I "thought about it" when Philip asked me to marry him. We don't always see eye-to-eye, but we never give up on each other. And when in doubt, most problems can be solved with macaroons.
The key to our happiness is not that we're happy all the time (God no!) The key is that we make the best of whatever we have, while still striving to do better. We are not in any competition with anyone; we are just trying to set goals and crush them! There are setbacks, there are delays, but we know that we have God, and we have each other, and that's all that matters.
If you're at a point in your life where it seems like there's nothing good in sight, please do not give up. If we can find love in a truly hopeless place, you can get through whatever is getting you down. Nothing lasts forever, neither good times nor bad. The unhappiness you are facing now will be the same thing you look back and laugh at in the future. I know that's hard to imagine when you're in the thick of it, but trust, pray and have faith.
You'll get through it, and you'll be okay.
Lots of love,
Philip and Tricia Ross