My Love Story~Chapter 19: My Boyfriend

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{If you are new to my love story, start here. I got the sweetest email from a new friend in Vermont telling me that she was told by her friend about my love story, and sat and read for 3 hours straight all the chapters thus far. It prompted me (once again) to force myself to write the next chapter. This has been the hardest chapter to write, it’s taken me 3 months to sit down and tap it out!}

I felt like I was living in the Twilight Zone. One day I was an emotional mess, mourning the loss of a could-be love, then 3 days later on the other side of the world, I was telling strangers he was my boyfriend–and I hadn’t even seen him since. I was ok with not seeing him, not talking to him. I needed time to process everything that had happened. We emailed every day, and I asked a lot of questions, and he answered them honestly. I didn’t feel hurt, I just didn’t understand. I wanted to understand. I wanted some logic to help me comprehend what was going on with him the past few months. There had to be a good explanation. We wrote lots of letters. Both typed through email, as well as aerogrammes from across the world.

aerogramme letter

I wrote this in a letter to him:


I have many questions in my head. I had to train myself to build a wall against you, to block my heart from the pain I felt. I think I built it so think that  I will take a while to peel off the layers and tap into what I feel. It seems so strange that I wouldn’t just rejoice at some of the things you have told me. Part of me still doesn’t believe what you’ve said because I haven’t seen you. I don’t think I’ll really know until I see you again. I also figure that when you are with me again your feelings may change again. Would you have ever said anything to me about your feelings if I hadn’t sent you that letter? All I have to hold on to are the feelings I know I once had. You have a lot to prove. I do love you, I know that much. I always have.

He told me there were some difficult things going on in  his family, that left him sad and confused. He was assigned as the middleman–the peacemaker–and he felt distracted by everything else around him. Amidst that, in the time that we spent together (the previous semester) he felt at odds between his head and his heart. I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the fact that I dated his brother, and at some point my suspicions were confirmed. I figured as much…how could that not be a big question mark for him?  But we got over that hump. That was in the past. We were moving forward.

I could have called him. Other people were making trans continental calls from The Holy Land to the United States, but I wasn’t ready. Not only did we email daily, but we also sent aerograms and postcards to each other.


Handwritten, and postmarked from Israel to California. Here are some of my favorite excerpts from those letters:

  • I have never felt so in love before Kristen and I want you to know that. The more I think about you, the more I see in  you everything I need. I do miss you, but I wouldn’t have you anywhere else right now. 
  • I think of you often, and was staring across the ocean today wondering what you were up to. 
  • I understand how you’re have a hard time believing what I say because I changed my mind in the past. Honestly, that scares me too. I hat e that I did that to you and don’t really understand it myself. I was reflecting on “us” on the entire drive from Utah to California, before I ever read your letter. 
  • I feel like I had my chance and blew it, and I’m afraid that trying again is just going to be more painful than before. Is there too much “past” for it to work out in the end?  I wish we could erase some of it. 

I lived for those excerpts. He wrote long letters, but mostly he liked to tell silly stories, about building a shed in his parents backyard, or quote Counting Crows songs. Amidst that were the nuggets that kept me going.

I’d reciprocate with the thoughts that were coming to the surface again:

  • I never thought I could be so happy with someone, and you helped me understand that I can. I wish you ere here, or rather more than anything I wish I could be near you.
  • I look forward to seeing you again, to have you smile at me, or put your arms around me. I’ve only felt that a few times, but I have the memory of how wonderful and safe I felt. 

He’d sign his emails with a “love” at the end. After we got through a lot of that in the beginning, our letters and emails were recounts of our days, and discussing the fact that his brother Sam and my roommate Amy were “enjoying each other’s company” back in Utah. So I was having fun checking my email from Amy, and then Matthew and I would email laughing about it, all the while I was enjoying daily adventures in The Holy Land.

on the bus

Our written conversation started shifting to when we’d see each other again. At the end of June, I would fly to Utah, then a few days later to Texas, while he’d still be in California. We talked about him coming to Houston to visit over July 4th, and the idea got me so excited!

I continued to have the adventure of a lifetime, forging great friendships, strengthening my faith in my Savior, and relishing the freedom of my youth.


I look back and am so grateful that I was able to separate and enjoy what was around me, despite wanting to be back with Matthew. For a good solid month, our letters were about exchanging our loving feelings and sharing stories of the day.

Then one day, it changed.

May 30th 1999: You are an amazing person, Kristen, Never have I known someone quite like you.  Your whole outlook on life is so refreshing, always positive and happy.   Since I’ve turned over a new leaf of openness, there are a few things I need to tell you. Last week was tough because I was struggling with feelings of uncertainty about whether or not I should continue pursuing this relationship. While following my heart, I’ve also been very prayerful as to whether or not our relationship is right in the eyes of the Lord. My feelings haven’t changed for you, I still love you very much, but want His blessing as well, and I’m getting mixed feelings. I wish I could see you and talk face to face, but I don’t want to keep anything from you either, want to be fully open.  Please be patient with me, I feel like scum on someone’s shoes for what I put you through, but I know my heart and intentions are good. 

I felt sick to my stomach. I wanted to vomit. Can this really be happening?

Right after reading that email of “uncertainty” I read an email from my little brother, and it took everything I had to mask my extreme pain from both emails combined. My sweet 17 year old brother was backing out of the driveway at our home, and ran over and killed our family cat, Oreo. As silly as that sounds to type out, we had her in our family for over 10 years, and though she was old, what hurt me the most was the pain my brother felt at what he accidentally did. I ached for him, wanted to reach out and hold him, tell him it wasn’t his fault, but I couldn’t—I was an ocean away.

I closed out my email in the crowded computer lab, walked quickly and stoically to my room two floors down, locked the bathroom door, turned on the shower, jumped in and sobbed hysterically.

It all hurt too much.

Join The Discussion



  1. So, I’ve been reading your love story (I love hearing others’ stories!). I must say, after reading this much, its amazing you two ever got married! lol My husband and I had a very short, sweet, fantastic, madly-in-love, no drama story. Don’t keep us in suspense for another 3 months, k? 🙂

    • Kristen Duke says:

      It seems the drama is the minority, so I want to give it a “voice” so others can know it isn’t always smooth sailing to get to a happy place!

  2. As always, a bright moment in my day when I read a chapter of your story… comments:
    – I wonder why almost everyone has a picture (from their teens, of course) with a guy with his finger up his nose. What’s up with that?

    – Every good love story has to make the guy suffer a little, and if he says stuff like “Please be patient with me, I feel like scum on someone’s shoes for what I put you through, but I know my heart and intentions are good.” you know you have a 90% chance of a happy ending. 🙂

    Your story makes me think of something I once heard… life is short, even though the painful moments seem to never end. I bet if the two of you knew then what you know now, if you knew what a beautiful family and life you would create, you still wouldn’t change a thing. I love reading this story!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      I love what you said about every good love story, the guy suffers. It does make it much more raw, that’s for sure. It would have been nice to know then what I know now, but I had to fight for what I wanted, and that made it pretty sweet, indeed. I KNEW it was what I wanted because I fought and hurt so hard. That knowledge is invaluable. I didn’t go into this half-heartedly.

  3. I can’t believe you posted another chapter now. Just yesterday, I looked back at your love story to see if I’d missed a chapter. What an amazing ride! And having to endure it thousands of miles away? AHHH! Looking forward to your next chapter. 🙂

  4. Here I am eating my afternoon snack of apples and peanut butter and my friend Susanne says Chapter 19 is up! So I run over to her desk and she goes look… she talks about us 🙂

    We are like giddy little school girls. Thanks for brightening our day. No wonder this took you so long to write! It is hard to go back and relive heartbreak. I can’t wait for Matthew to smarten up! ha

    Your friend Karla in Vermont!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      oh yay! THat made me smile, I’m so happy to hear you gals saw this right away;) Thanks for the extra nudge, I worked on it from midnight tip 3am, but it got done!!

  5. Your love story is what brought me to your blog! Love reading y’alls story, because I know how it ends. 🙂 Thanks for the new post!

  6. OH…I have to go back and get caught up. When I read this, it really spoke to my heart. I just recently broke up with a sweet Christian man in TExas that I met on-line because I thought things were moving too fast and I was scared…and then I realized that I really do love him…but I’m not sure if he’s moved on or not…and now he wants to meet someone local. Ugggh…Oh, it’s all in God’s hands, that’s for sure…but now I gotta read through your story again….because it really is romantic and who doesn’t love a good romance 🙂 🙂 :)…and I think there’s some encouragement in there somewhere 🙂 Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

  7. I came across your blog via Beth at Sawdust and Embryos. I have spent half of my day (at the office, mind you) reading your love story. I can’t wait to read the next chapter.

  8. I always enjoy reading the chapters of your love story. Good for you to stick at it. Hopefully we won’t have to wait 3 months for the next chapter!

  9. I should have known that it wouldn’t all be smooth sailing after the end of the last chapter…! At least his uncertainty was for the very best of reasons – wanting to do what was right in the eyes of the Lord.
    I admire your openness in sharing and your hubby’s willingness to let you do so.
    Looking forward to the next chapter as always!

    • Kristen Duke says:

      My hubby isn’t as open as me, but he trusts me to tell it with the best of intentions. He was tormented during that time, and it pains me, but it’s a very important part of the story. Plus, not sure he reads this;)

  10. Oh, the agony! I am so glad I know that you two end up happily married. 🙂 Thank you for continuing to share your story. It is so compelling (is that the right word? I mean I can’t stop reading it). It’s been a while since I caught up — for some reason I missed several of the most recent installments. I couldn’t remember where I had left off, so I just started somewhere in the middle. Even though I remembered the first three or four posts, it was fun to read them again. You really draw me in to your story. I feel like I know you and your friends, and (I’ve said this before) it brings back so many memories of my own love story and my time in college. I had to stop reading at one point and write about the first time my husband told me he loved me. Thank you for the inspiration! 🙂

  11. I love reading this love story, but the psychologist in me is so upset at the obvious emotional game playing he put you through!

    You didn’t deserve the back and forth, and then when he saw you were finally free of it, he wheeled you back in only to begin playing the emotional manipulation and control again. I know you eventually marry, and I’m happy you got what you wanted, but dear God, I hope he’s stopped this emotional abuse and emotional manipulation. Ugh.

    No offense to you, this story is so elegantly written it is hard not to become emotionally invested and I don’t even know you! <3