October 20th of 2015, Ryan and I met online, he was from the United Kindgom, and I, the good old US of A.
First friends, talking about a game, Monster Warlord; the only game app I’ve ever downloaded.
We are approaching two years married, two children, a Tech company, white picket fence, 🏡 dreams we as little girls imagined;
“pigtails and puppy dog tails”. I reflect back, it’s 2021, I visit Visa Journey. A place I vowed to give back if not to update our story. The only site that understood, accepted, and helped me through the times I needed someone. The stories of couples that where familiar to mine.
In 2016, a happy ending was a distant dream. I truly believe that the site gave me the strength I needed to wait the process out through its twists and turns, complications, and what we call immigration.
I reflect back remember texting each other night after night, spending hours talking and catching up on each other’s life. The distance is tough but worth the wait, that I can say with certainty but wasn’t always 🌹 and mainly 🥤’s. Which takes me back to 2016, when we finally agreed to meet in person.
He flew in to Chicago O'hare; that day, the nerves, & awaiting on someone I knew so well, but not in person. A closeness you can share online that very few people would understand. When Ryan arrived and went through customs, a feeling to this day difficult 2 describe. Awaiting a man you’ve fallen for on the other end of the exit awaiting to welcome him to an unknown. Not knowing who to look for but pictures sent over text and FaceTime conversations that lead you up to this moment. Memories of hours to finally look directly into the persons eyes. My emotions were all over the place as I scanned every last person exiting.
After what I believied to be the last person leaving the flight, I looked down and wanted to cry.
Did he miss his flight, was he to nervous, did he see me and leave ? Oh my thoughts just raced on.
The feelings of being stood up by someone I’d never met sounded ludicrous. As I turned to leave, I looked for the exit and a man was standing there with a 🥤. Yes, a fountain drink. To this day he never forgets that I hate 💐 Why? Being a V Day baby, I had my fair share of them. I laughed and ran up to him. It was as if I was meeting my best friend and from that day on, inseparable. Originally the plan was to visit a few weeks and he stayed a few months. We spent Christmas and New Years together. I introduced to my culture and celebrations 🎊 over the holidays, the first of many. At that time we just enjoyed each others company and lived in the moment. My son who was 13 at the time, absolutely adored him. I remember back than he would call him his “best friend”. In 2021, the bond has become more of a father/son relationship built on years of friendship.
Each year we make an ornament to remember just how fortunate we are.
Once a single mother to now a family of four, 2016 was a year that my childhood dreams became reality.
I can remember how quickly his trips would pass, and within a blink of an eye, it would be time for Ryan to pack again, fly home, to depend upon virtual memories until the next visit.
Dropping him off at the airport, became a ritual that was both dreaded but through the years became accustomed too. It never became easier and each time another piece of my heart went with him home.
For years, I wished for a normal life without distance. I remember he surprised me after his first visit and a few months later I opened up the door on my Birthday to find him standing there, with yes, you guessed it, my 🥤 in his hand. He stayed until Easter and back home yet again.
In August 2017, another visit by surprise. I started to wonder every time I opened the door if he’d be there. Every time a knock on my door, I’d close my eyes and would hope it was him. Within a few years, we were closer than I’d ever been to anyone. Odd how I never let anyone in for years, but strangely let this man into my heart so suddenly. When I look back, I remember how easy it was to do. With someone so far away, I could be me and figured it could never really be real. It made it easier to let him in.
Oh, how I wrong, and I was. I still don’t know if I’d had let him into my life, and there wasn’t an ocean separating us, that we would have made it this far. To know I could shut the door so easily let me open my heart to him. You probably are thinking how dumb this sounds. But if only you knew the hurt and abuse I have suffered for years. The five years I spent as a single mother and how I forever closed my heart, indefinitely. You may think differently.
Ryan came along and managed the impossible.
If you feel like your in a love story, I have to apologize, as this was something at the time, I swore I’d never do. I promised myself I’d never love again. It’s now 2021 and I still feel the same way I did when we fist met each other.
The excuse I give, is that stupid online monster game. Now I’m happy.
How awful 😂. Back to 2017 and his second visit, my Grandmother passed away. She was my best friend, my mother, and the only one I had growing up besides my grandfather.
Myself, Ryan, and my son drove down to Illinois for the funeral. He was able to meet my grandmother.
My grandmother and grandfather had a twenty two year age difference. And I had just watched as my grandfather, much younger, is now alone to live out the remainder of his life.
For months after this visit, I began pushing Ryan away. I did not want him to end up as my grandfather, alone and suffering in silence. Nineteen years is a big age difference.
I know after my grandmother passed, was a time neither myself or Ryan will never forget.
I can remember post funeral and my MASTER plan. My ultimate plot to shut down my heart. To explain to him when he arrived back to the U.K. why we shouldn’t be together.
I spent six months attempting to block him from my world. To explain to him it would never work. Our age would someday leave him lonely. No white picket fence, no child of his own, as I’d already lived that life.
There was no way I could steal his happiness and leave him in the condition I saw my grandfather in.
I loved this man enough that I needed to let him go. no matter the cost.
Ryan had other plans. He spent six months trying to contact me to no avail.
Months later, I finally had silence.
I was relieved.
I did not hear his voice, my line stopped ringing, no more emails, no more calls, no more letting me know he would never give up, and no more surprise 🥤s.
I could move on knowing he would find someone his age and live happily ever after.
Just like that my whole life came crashing down.
I spent the SO many nights wondering if I made the right choice. Deep down, I knew his dreams, he wanted a child. Because of that I knew I had no choice but to let him go.
I would call my grandpa for reassurance that shutting Ryan was the right thing to do.
I remember my grandfather saying he’d rather have “five more minutes with my grandmother than eternity with anyone else”.
But how could I look at Ryan 5 years from now when I knew one day he would resent me for all he said he wanted that I couldn’t give to him?
October of 2017, and months of silence, no back and forth visits, no late night calls, I heard a knock on my door. I didn’t think a thing about it. I had buried myself in work. I yelled down to my son and asked him who was at the door? he 🤷♂️
So I quickly ran downstairs to open my door.
I opened the the door to Ryan standing there with, yes a 🥤 in one hand, and a 📦 in another.
He said, did you ever think I’d ever give up on you so easily ?
I stood there for what felt like forever.. we waived the cab driver off.
We both just stared I’m silence. I grabbed my white flag, he got down on one knee and proposed to me, and I’ve never looked back.
This time when he went to the airport and he needed to go home was different, we both knew no matter how many miles stood between us, the ending would be together.
No matter how long the journey that his life would be with with me.
Apparently, he knew this all along. Somehow, I missed the memo.
Ryan and I spent the next twelve months or so planning our future and learned of this journey that seemed near impossible.
November of 2018 he returned to the states and we spent another Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years together. As I walk up to our Christmas tree, I see the now five ornaments and remember our first encounter online. It still feels like it was yesterday.
In the midst of our immigration journey, February of 2019, we were preparing for the dreaded flight he was making back to the U.K., he extended his flight when I became ill.
He was able to be there for my first ultra sound, after a long New Years.
My illness left him concerned and he refused to fly home. After a month or so being ill, a doctor finally gave me a diagnosis.
I would be having a second child and was 4 weeks expecting. Unbeknownst to any clinician and short of a miracle, Hannah was born in August of 2019.
Due to the pending K1 approval, Ryan flew home that February and stayed in the UK until than. He took an immediate flight to the U.S. for her birth than back home again in September for his interview and medical.
We received a NOA2 in June of 20 and approved for our K1 Visa on October 4th at the Embassy in London. He was issued the K1 Visa and we were reunited on October 23.
Hannah was almost a month old
Ryan and I married on November 8th of 2019. A promise that I never have nor ever would have given to anyone else but him on this planet, 🥤 or not.
On January 1, 2020, we sent in the AOS packet. During his authorized stay, he became Mr Mom as I returned to work.
We worked extremely hard the year prior to save as much as we could to buy a home when he arrived.
In October of 2020, we moved into our house next to the lake. We no longer tripped over each other going from a family of 2 to 4. My son now 15, has a full floor with gaming, bedroom, bathroom and a teenagers dream. Ryan and I have 2 bedrooms, one to game/work, the other our bedroom. As for little Hannah Bannah, almost two years now, on suite bedroom fit for the princess she is.
In 2020, our interview was scheduled and cancelled due to COVID, but a Green Card arrived soon after.
We started our IT company this year, and I’ve continued on my career. One day we will be able to explain to our daughter, the story of her mother and father. The day I can sit her down and tell her that all the 🧚♀️ tales we have as little girls can come true. To never give up on love and some things are simply met by chance.
In October we will celebrate two years married and continue through removal of conditions.
He comes from a large family that I never had as they plan there second visit.
As we await his citizenship, our journey has just begun. It’s been a crazy, scary journey, changes and turns, with an outcome that feels beyond our control. Somehow knowing we have each other at the end is all you need, and sometimes it’s here to share with others. As tough it may be apart, I know we are blessed.
If you’ve read our story, and made it this far; my guess is your awaiting approval, oceans separate you, your filled with a heavy heart and wondering if one day this can happen to you too..
My answer to you .. If I have learned anything through the almost last last six years, Love knows no boundaries 🙏💕, no matter the distance, it opens your heart, it doesn’t see age or years between you, nor does it care of heartaches in the past, or the circumstances that brought you together. never give up.
Your happiness and strength in each other will lend you ❤️ and an eternity of happiness.
Wishing you well in 2021, Sarah, Ryan, Tyler, and Miss Hannah Banana.