“OK! Where’s the camera? Oprah? Montel? Where are they? Where’s the camera? You’re kidding right?”
I burst out laughing. Because she was seriously looking all over the restaurant for the camera crew to come running down the isle like on PUNKED.
“No. I’m serious. You’re the one I want. I love you.”

That’s when she knew I was serious. And that’s when she also got terrified. Because she knew that our relationship was about to change from that day forward.

She couldn’t eat anymore. Neither did she have anything more to say.  So we packed up the rest of her food and left the restaurant. I pick up my clothes from my mom’s house and took her home. She was pretty much silent. I was feeling happy and confident…like I had finally found the woman of my dreams.

In the following week, we talked every day on the phone…something we never did before. We underwent daily rounds of intense discussions. Although we knew each other, we had never talked to each other with the intention of marriage in mind. Our talks were more like negotiations about what we each wanted, expected, and required in a relationship.

Exactly one week later, Saturday September 28, 1996, I was heading over to Bernie’s apartment. I was listening to a tape by Louis Greenup about fathers handing their daughters over in marriage to men that aren’t qualified for marriage. He was making the analogy that…handing your daughter over to a man that has not been properly trained to be a husband is like allowing her to get on a plane with a pilot that has not been trained to fly. I found the analogy interesting – given where I was in my life at the time.

When I arrived at Bernie’s apartment, I told Bernie about the message I was listening to. When I finished explaining it, she looked directly at me and very deliberately said,

“Do you know how to fly the plane?”
“Yes. I’m just waiting for a co-pilot.” I quickly replied.
She paused for a moment. “Okay. Let’s do it.” I jumped up and down on her bed and gave her the biggest hug…quietly thanking God for an answered pray.

Within the course of one week, we went from being close friends and co-workers, having never dated one another, to being engaged to be married. One year later, we were married on October 10, 1997.

Sixteen years later, as we celebrate our anniversary, we are still best friends. I still love her, and she loves me. Happy Anniversary Bernie…the love of my life.

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