On the last day of the semester he stopped by my dorm to see me. I was suffering with a nasty cold and was quite pathetic but he sat and we chatted for a bit. We exchanged Christmas cards and promised we'd send each other a postcard over the holiday. Before he left he gave me a huge hug and my heart melted. This was one heck of a crush. Maybe after Christmas break I'd have the courage to let him know how I felt.
On January 5th, 1995 I received a postcard from him and was like a giddy school girl. When I got back to my dorm later that month the first thing I did was call him. A guy answered the phone.
"Hi, can I speak to Lou?"
Long pause and then a reply. "Who is this?"
"This is Jen, his friend from school. I just got back from break."
"Didn't anyone tell you?"
"Tell me what?"
"Lou was killed in car crash on January 5th."
Lou was driving with his parents when their car was struck by a 16 year old who lost control of his car. Lou was killed instantly. His dad was in hospital for a long time and his mom suffered minor injuries. The guy on the phone was Lou's brother.
I was destroyed and struggled with the loss for a long time. For years after, whenever there was a wish to be made (birthday candles, shooting stars), I wished that Lou was still around and in my life.
Fast forward to 2007. I was finally coming out of a wretched 2 years. I was a mess after my marriage ended and found myself in a number of very unhealthy relationships (with guys and with alcohol). In January 2007 I broke up with the latest guy and quit drinking. I spent the next few months focusing on me. I finally overcame the desperate fear that no one else would ever love me. I reconnected with girlfriends but also spent a lot of time with my dogs just rediscovering the world around me and my own company. I even started to enjoy the freedom of being single.
In May 2007 we were having renovations done on our building at work. Most of the crew were Portuguese guys from the Azores (there's a big Azorean Portuguese community here in Bermuda). One carpenter in particular caught my eye. He was tall and a bit skinny but he had the biggest, cheekiest grin I'd ever seen. After a few weeks of winks and shy smiles we finally had our first conversation - sort of. He barely spoke English and my Portuguese was limited to a few words. At the end of our "chat" I asked his named. "Luis," he said before writing his number on my hand and walking away.
I didn't know if I should call him. I mean, what did I think we would talk about? However, armed with my Portuguese/English dictionary we began to meet up and ever so slowly get to know each other. He, like my other Luis, turned out to be a kind and gentle soul. He is one of the most selfless people I've ever met and would do anything for those he cares about. His family is hugely important to him and his mother and 3 sisters trained him well - he can cook and clean with the best of them and, thankfully, is as tidy as I am! He is also an animal lover and, unlike with my previous boyfriends, my dogs adored him from day one.
Everyone (including me) thought I was nuts and that clearly I was still going through post-divorce lunacy. But the weeks and months rolled on and we spent more and more time together. When he invited me to the Azores to meet his family I knew he was serious about me and in November 2009 we got engaged.
Today is our 1 year wedding anniversary. Luis is still as sweet and loving as when we first got together. We still make each other laugh every day and speak our own little language of "Portuglish". I am so very blessed to have found him. I feel like maybe Lou had a hand in helping me make it through those rough times and in leading me to Luis once he knew I'd be ready to accept him. For that, I'll be forever grateful.