Quiet Anthem

Honest Faith :: Bold Vulnerability

Thursday, December 22, 2011

How I Met My Husband: Happy 5th Anniversary

Self-portrait by Gregory Klug
I saw Greg from across the room in Wood Hall at Southampton College. I could see his eyes were blue—cerulean, floods the room with light, eyes. I approached him after the Campus Crusade meeting and asked him about his major, business administration, and his passion, starting his own paper. He told me about his vision, and as he listed those pursuits he hoped to achieve, I noted that in every area, I had been trained.

It was the first time I had met somebody with a shared vision. It got even worse from there.

He came to my house for a Bible study shortly thereafter. We were standing in the dining room, and he started talking about C.S. Lewis, the idea of Heaven. He was answering questions I had asked myself the day before.

I interrupted him during his second quotation from The Abolition of Man and asked, “Wait. How old are you again?”


I was twenty-five. I was teaching a section of the English class he was currently taking. I crushed my crush and never thought about Greg again.

It was heart-breaking, and I mentioned to God how thrilled I was to have met the man of my, clearly impossible, dreams.

Two years later, after I had broken up with a man whom I distracted myself with to distance myself from Greg, I got a phone call. I had hoped that it was my ex-boyfriend, calling to ask me to the movies, vowing his faithfulness and wishing me back. Instead it was Greg, calling to ask me to the movies, vowing nothing more than good conversation and friendship.

We saw The Bourne Supremacy and began a friendship there on the eastern end of Long Island built on double kayaking the bay before jumping over the dunes to dive into the ocean, and family dinners at his house. I fell in love with his broad shoulders and his parents.

Then I decided to move back to Phoenix.

I had come to New York for a master’s degree and had stayed well beyond graduation to teach, to find myself. Someone had told me I would meet my husband in New York, something I vaguely believed.

As I closed the door to the U-Haul truck, I turned to Greg and said, “If I ever get married, you’re going to have to shake my husband’s hand. It’s because of you that I don’t hate men.”

And then I left West, never anticipating to see Greg again.

But he visited for Christmas, and then for Spring Break. He decided to stay with my family for a summer in Phoenix. By fall, he was no closer to figuring out what to do with his future, so I asked him this question: “If money were not an option and you could be doing anything to make it, what would you be doing?”

He said music.

“Then that’s what you should pursue.”

Hunky Greg on keys
I visited  him and his family for Christmas—it felt natural—and we kissed for the first time on New Year’s Day, 2006.

Times Square on New Year's Eve, 2005
He accompanied me to a wedding in Northern California that March, on a trip where our future still wasn’t certain. The idea of marrying each other did not seem an issue. The answer was decidedly no.

I told Greg this was it; our friendship would end here. I would be 29 soon, and the idea of not having a family amplified the hollow ache within.

We stopped talking for months. Greg sent me a gift for his birthday. I sent nothing.

When I felt to call Greg in June, what he may say to me terrified me; I deserved rebuke for having dismissed him so callously, but instead I received a confession: “Renee, I love you, and I want to marry you.” Greg had realized during our separation that he didn't want to live the rest of his life without me. 

Words escaped me, possibly for the first time ever. I didn’t want to tell Greg I felt the same way when I didn’t, yet. I had buried those feelings for him, and it was up to Jesus to resurrect them. By the end of July, I told Greg I loved him and would marry him if he asked. Committing the rest of my life to the man whose character I admired above anyone else's was freeing.  

In August, on his way from New York to Colorado to pursue a graduate degree in music composition and theory, he detoured to Arizona.

We escaped to Prescott and spent the day at Goldwater Lake. I fought sadness that day, mainly because I still wasn’t sure if Greg still meant what he had said in June.

Just before we were going to find a place to have dinner, Greg hugged me to reassure me that everything was going to be okay. In an act that I had never done before or have not done since, I put my hand into his back pocket. “Why is your cell phone—” I realized the square object I was touching was not his cell phone.

Greg pulled away from me and ushered me into the car. He jumped into the driver’s seat and peeled away from the curb, racing back toward Phoenix. “Greg, what are you doing?”

He stopped the car in the middle of the highway and began driving in reverse. He pulled over, raced to the passenger side, and picked me up. He began to run in the darkness, the light from his cell phone led the way. We reached the top of a hill before Greg set me down.

He knelt and looked up at me, “I’ve spoken to your father, and I received his blessing. Renee Ronika Bhatti, will you marry me?”

When I was in college during the late-nineties, people asked me often why I never dated. I didn't feel the need to tell them that I thought the idea of dating was a sham, an inauthentic way to get to know someone I likely wouldn't marry anyway. To shut them up, I told them that my husband was still in junior high, and I was waiting for him to grow up. 

I hadn't realized I was prophesying my fate. 

Three months later, on a December day unlike all the others, we got married under a big, white tent where our friends and family gathered in witness.


We flew to Fiji on the 24th, arriving on the 26th, with Christmas getting lost in the sky.

We moved to Colorado, together, in January, where I knew we would be for the next five years.

I knew we would have a daughter, but I never imagined we’d have another so soon—our double blessing.

Greg and I are back in New York this Christmas, five years later, where we shared our first kiss—where our friendship was set on fire. 

Read the essay I wrote for our wedding program. 


TheUnemployedMBA said...

Congrats!  I remember the day well...burrrr!

Patta said...

Love you!

Shari Lopatin said...

Beautiful story! Renee, I don't believe I've ever seen your voice burst forth in such a strong conviction before. You are a true romantic at heart. The prose was both poetic and resonant. Greg should feel blessed to have inspired your writing so. :-) I love this piece. You should work on getting it published.

Rajdeep Paulus said...

What are the chances! I met my hubby when I was 24 and he was 19, and the same age conversation dismissed any dreams of a future … at first! Thirteen plus years and four princesses later, I feel like I'm the most blessed wife this side of heaven!! 

My "love story" is summed up in "In Search of Waterfalls," a running theme of our love…and the fuel that keeps us going: God's Grace. Read and enjoy when you have a moment!

Thanks for sharing! 

Rajdeep Paulus said...

Sorry, forgot to mention the BLOG: www.insearchofwaterfalls.com
Merry Christmas!!

Jenn Gaites said...

Brought tears to my eyes. Praise God and congrats on 5 years together.  And many more...

Lynparker8 said...

What a wonderful love story God has written for you and Greg!!!  And the coolest part?  It's not even CLOSE to being finished yet!  It is truly more inspiring and beautiful than anything Hollywood writers could ever come up with and nothing compares to this when God writes your love story!!

Serena Abdelaziz said...

Loved reading your love story......hope you are having LOTS of fun in New York!!  I love knowing you. 

Renee Ronika Klug said...

I love knowing you right back. Thank you, friend. 

Renee Ronika Klug said...

I said to Greg in my card to him, "Our story is the epic narrative of friendship set on fire." I, too, believe we've only just begun. 

Renee Ronika Klug said...

I love love love love love you. You are one of the biggest parts of my journey, and I'm so thankful for your friendship, Jenn. The picture of you and Andy above is among my favorite wedding photos. 

Renee Ronika Klug said...

Nice to meet you, Rajdeep! I love that our stories echo each other's. I look forward to reading "Waterfalls" soon. Welcome to Quiet Anthem, where I hope more stories will resonate with your experience. 

Renee Ronika Klug said...

Thank you, Shari. I hope to polish it and include it in my memoir. But you've given me inspiration to perhaps send it out to smaller presses. 

Renee Ronika Klug said...

Too cold, if you ask me. It warmed up that night, though. ;)

HopefulLeigh said...

Love, love, love this!  Happy anniversary.

Shalle Bosman said...

Congratulations! Beautiful!

Kisa Konrad said...

Awwww, so sweet!  I realized I'd never really known the full story.  What a treat!  I love every part of it :)  Congratulations to you both. XOXO

Monica said...

How beautiful this is! You know we fell in love with you too!

Jessie said...

What a great story! Here's to many more happy years!

Leslie said...

So beautiful.  I am wiping away tears as I read this.  Love you.

Renee Ronika Klug said...

I love you! It never dawned on me how unique a story we have until I shared it. Funny how that happens. 

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