**All photos are shared with permission from Krista Browning Photography. Krista loves capturing the emotion of people’s stories through pictures. She is based in South Florida, but she is open to traveling to meet your photography needs. You can find her by clicking on the following social media platforms | website | facebook | Instagram | Pinterest. We are honored for her to have donned a disguise and hunkered down in some bushes on a hot Flordia afternoon to capture these moments for us.**
It all started just over 14 years ago.
She, a 7-year-old pig-tailed blonde sporting glasses and watching out for her 2 younger brothers. He, a sandy-headed 5-year-old ready to run with the big dogs, and do whatever his big sister said because she had convinced him she was the boss of him. It was the first day of a weekly sports club with a pavilion full of kids. New faces fully anticipating a morning of sports and yet slightly nervous about making friends.
By time the Mama’s arrived to collect these kids a few hours later, they had become fast friends. Months later, after weekly sports mornings, family picnics, and lots of playtime at each other’s homes, the Mamas too had become the best of friends.
For the next 14 years these two Mamas, their two girls, and those three boys remained in that treasured category of best friends. Of course, the boys spent a good bit of time irritating their big sisters, that is why we keep them around, right?
At the same time, the girls became quite skilled at ignoring those pesky boys. It was the two younger sisters in his family and two more younger brothers added into hers that were a little harder to sneak away from. But, somehow they managed.
… that’s what you are
While the kids played the Mama’s chatted, laughed and stealthily mixed up batches of cookie dough, not for the kids but for their own flavor of comfort food therapy. This raising of kids requires a cheering section and they had become that for one another.
Throughout the seasons of these friendships, there were little bumps and bruises along the way. It’s how the strongest of bonds are formed, by choosing to work through the growing pains to see where the journey might lead.
Somewhere along the line the Mama’s began to secretly marvel at how well suited this girl and boy were for each other. It was uncanny really. So much so that others similarly inquired from time to time. Usually in hushed tones, until one day someone said it in their presence. No one really recalls who, but they seem to believe it was one of those younger siblings.
One evening, eight years later, they were at a Chick-Fil-A after youth group and he fashioned a ring out of a straw wrapper and proposed. Like down on one knee, used her full name, a restaurant full of witnesses, proposed. She giggled and it promptly became the funny youth group joke … or was it? He was after all only 13, aka. the beginning of the awkward years.
He would repeat that request a few more times over the course of the next few years. Always accompanied with a one-of-a-kind ring created from random found objects and lots of imagination. All along, this girl and his big sister were deepening their friendship, as was he and her brothers, as well as those two Mamas.
… though near or far
Then came the tough day when his family moved away. Like 934 miles away. There were lots of hugs and tears between the girls and a few amongst the boys too. It was a sad day. Followed by months of adjusting. And trips. Lots of trips back and forth.
Sleepovers and adventure all packed into handfuls of hours scattered here and there over the years. Late night chats, beach days, more bowls of cookie dough and memories gathered upon memories.
Like a song of love that clings to me
Over the next 6 years, he would propose 4 more times. It was still passed off as a joke.
Come to find out, there were several times in those years when he really did like her and she actually did like him in a more “romantical” way, as she would say. But those times never seemed to overlap.
Until one day.
How the thought of you does things to me
Suddenly, one summer everything changed. All at once they seemed to see each other for the first time. And the days of his being the “pesky little brother” shifted to something entirely different. Oh, he didn’t stop pestering and teasing, that will never happen. But she no longer spent her time trying to avoid him either.
Everything was different. By now, she had been a bridesmaid in his big sister’s wedding and he was preparing to be a groomsmen in her brother’s wedding. And those two younger sisters of his had grown up and they had all become friends in their own right. And those pesky little brothers of hers? Well, they were growing up too, and losing their typical tag-along ways.
And the Mamas? Well, they committed to staying out of it. They simply had to. It was not an easy task. But everyone knows that anything worth having is worth working for.
They committed to remaining friends, whatever happened with these two. When it’s that friend you’ve had for years, the one who gets you, who finishes your sentences and knows which flavor of chocolate you prefer … this could be kind of scary stuff. But they had committed early on to walking all of these kids through this learning to be friends journey, so it was a rather natural shift.
Never before has someone been more
Others had come and gone. But they had found the one. The one to encourage, to challenge, to laugh and cry with. The one to spend the rest of their days with.
They had never before found someone more suited. From their passion for people and kids in particular to their love of the ocean, adventure and missions.
Unforgettable in every way
So the visits continued, as well as the facetime, calls and texts. Though now they were all more frequent. There was no need to meet each other’s families. They were already well acquainted, extended families included. Aunts on both sides had been hoping for this day just as much as the Mamas. Well, almost as much as the Mamas.
And then there was that day.
and forever more …
It was her birthday. He had flown down to see her. She knew he was coming. She knew they were going to be celebrating her birthday. They had been talking about this forever thing, but she didn’t think it was to begin on this trip.
He had planned a picnic. He had contacted a photographer. He had worked out all the details with her Mama. And obviously, he had asked her Daddy for his blessing to marry her, just as he had done when he sought her Daddy’s blessing to date her.
He had a new ring. Well, kind of new. It had been his great-grandmother’s engagement ring from the 1930’s. She would appreciate that. The story, the fact that it had been passed down. His Mama had received it a few years earlier. She wanted to give it to him, and his three sisters heartily agreed that they wanted her to have it. It was a bit blingy and silver for her taste, so he had a simple rose gold setting made for his great-grandmother’s diamond. She would have loved this girl and been so proud of her great-grandson.
that’s how you’ll stay
So they picnicked. And they danced, as they so often did. And he dropped down on that same knee he’d been dropping down on for the previous 8 years. And he asked again, but with real gold and a real diamond, and every expectation that she would say yes.
She knew this time was different than all the others.
She knew he was serious. As serious as he had ever been.
And she said yes. Again. And she too was as serious as she had ever been.
And that’s why, darling, it’s incredible
That someone so unforgettable
Thinks that I am unforgettable too.