By: Miguel Fuller
Photo: Jake (L), Andy (R)
“Jake, are you sure you want me to stay here? Your date is about to show up!” That’s a conversation I had with one of my friends almost two years ago. We were in Downtown St. Pete at his favorite bar having cocktails catching up on the past week of work and personal life drama. Halfway through our conversation, Jake informed me that this guy Andy was popping in for a drink. It was going to be their first date! I scrambled to grab my phone, wallet and close my tab so I could get out of the way, but Jake wanted me to stay and see how I felt about this new guy.
Fast forward to 2019 and now Jake and Andy are flying across the country to exchange vows and marry at City Hall in San Francisco. So what happened in the almost two years that went from an awkward first date, where I was the third wheel, to two caring men proclaiming their love in front of family and friends? A lot.
When you think about how your love story will come together, you think of the fun times. Meeting, going on dates, going on road trips, meeting families, late-night talks, moving in, proposing and hopefully walking down the aisle. In a romantic comedy there’s a struggle or two thrown in with a nice message to tie it all together in the end. We know life is messy and complicated, but that’s where true love is formed. From the very beginning of that first date, I knew Jake and Andy were like two firecrackers thrown into a pot. It was electric! I’m pretty sure by the end of the first date they were already talking about how they each wanted kids. This was destiny in the making.
At a brunch, with all of our friends gathered around, we were informed that Jake and Andy were taking their relationship to another level by purchasing a house together. Most couples would have trouble even talking about moving in with each other at this point in their relationship, but Jake and Andy always knew they were destined to be together. Then the news comes that stops us all in our tracks: Andy had to have heart surgery.
Andy was born with a heart valve defect that caused him to have numerous heart surgeries in his life. When you are forced to live a life where you are constantly reminded of your mortality, it makes you live life with a certain gusto. Andy does that to the fullest. I don’t know of many men who would have faced this situation with their partner with dignity and grace like Jake did. Sitting back and watching Jake take the lead and help Andy through another heart surgery was soul-warming.
One month they were buying a house, moving in and decorating, and in another month Andy was going under the knife to repair his heart. Thankfully, he came out unscathed and ready to take on the world. A few weeks after Andy was home, my boyfriend and I took him to brunch and a movie. We just could not get over how well he was doing after having surgery on his heart. Jake and Andy were back on course building a life together. At that moment, we knew marriage would be in their future, but the couple had more obstacles in their path.
At the beginning of November, just when life really seemed to finally give them some peace, Andy had a stroke. The first few days were scary and concerning with not a lot of answers. One day we are all at brunch laughing, having a wonderful time, then all of a sudden one of your friends is in a hospital bed and can barley say their name. When we were allowed to go and visit Andy at the hospital, you could see the spark of determination in his eyes. He was not going to be down for long.
I’ll never forget this moment of pure love between these two. As we were sitting around Andy’s hospital bed, Jake rolled up his sleeves, pulled out a menu and wanted Andy to pronounce some of the food items. Andy would look, squint his eyes, think, then slowly start to say the word. When he got it right, Jake would raise his fist in the air to celebrate each success. This was patience and love looking at us straight in the face. When your partner has to fight through two health scares and you never skip a beat, it just makes your soul shine. Now Andy is recovered, back home and planning for the next stage of this amazing relationship.
In two years, this couple has dealt with moving in together, buying a house, heart surgery, a stroke and now marriage. This is not the story that either of them thought would be theirs, but it gives us hope that we could all find love as strong as that.