On Wednesday I was supposed to take my niece to an appointment, but I wasn’t feeling well, so Jacob offered to take her. I knew how long her appointment would be, so I thought he would be home around 2:30. When he pulled into our garage an hour later than I had thought, I figured he had to run some errands after dropping Bella off at home. I was wrong.
He walked in, said hi to Molly Mae, and then raved for 20 minutes about how much fun he and Bella had together. He talked about how he loved watching her blow bubbles and play games at therapy. He took her to get a milkshake after her appointment and then to the park. He bragged about how much she giggled and then confessed that he took her on the tallest slide at the playground.
He just went on and on and I got a little emotional as I thought about this man who is so in love with this little girl. And then I remembered that there is another man who loves her even more than Jacob could ever imagine, and that man is her daddy, Josh.
It reminded me of our third date.
I went to Dana Point to spend the 4th of July with my older brother and his girlfriend (now wife), Ashley. Jacob was in a wedding that weekend in Orange County, so it was perfect for us to get together for another date.
We had a lot of fun that day riding beach cruisers, picnicking, and even holding hands for the first time, but those aren’t the things I remember most from that day. What I remember most is the talk we had.
Our first stop on our date was Starbucks. We each got a white mocha and sat at the tables outside. It was a gorgeous day and we could have talked about the weather or how sweet our coffee was, but we didn’t. We ended up talking about the day my niece Bella was born.
In the early hours of the morning of April 23rd, 2008, I received a text from my mom that said, “Bella Cate Chesnut is here!” I was so excited because I didn’t know that she was a girl or what her name would be. I went back to sleep for a few hours and then left Azusa Pacific University, where I attended school at the time, and drove to in San Diego. When I got in my car, I got a call from my dad. He told me that Bella was beautiful and that I should hurry down so I could see how sweet she was. Then he told me that she was born with Down syndrome. I just told him I was excited to meet her and hung up the phone. My 2-hour drive to the hospital felt like days because I just wanted to hold her and kiss her.
When I got to the hospital, my dad greeted me at the door of the room and said, “You are going to love her! She’s so sweet and cute and little.” I started crying the moment I stepped in the room because he was right. I did love her. And she was so sweet and so cute and so, so little. She was perfect.
The rest of the day I sat in the hospital room and watched. I watched as Josh, Bella’s daddy, proudly introduced her to everyone who came in. He could not stop looking at her and kissing her face. It was evident that he loved her even more than I could fathom.
Over white mochas, I found myself telling Jacob that in that moment at the hospital, I realized that I wanted a man like that: a man who would stick by me through the ups and downs of life and who would be strong when I am not and who would love me through anything. Yes, it was a little heavy for a third date but Jacob just listened and smiled and then said, “I cannot wait to meet her.”
And now, that same Jacob who wanted to meet her has fallen in love with her. And I have realized what I only hoped would be true on our third date:
I have married a man like that.
(Josh & Bella on her first day of Kindergarten.)