Thursday, June 19, 2003
By Shaun T. Koh
The Instant Message flashed across the computer screen: "I can be there in two days or two weeks."
I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. I was elated. Yet, I was also uncertain. After all, this was a totally new way of meeting someone.
I was a community leader with America Online's Academic Assistance Center at the time. She joined in as a leader soon after.
I had met many people online, but never in person. Laura and I had chatted online quite a lot since our first virtual meeting. Then came hours on the phone. Our phone bills started to soar into the stratosphere as we talked about a myriad of topics from child-raising to hair-raising incidents during our school days.
Needless to say, we met in person for the first time in 1995 and were married in Irmo, S.C. that summer.
"He lived in South Carolina, and I in New York, so we would never have met except for the online opportunity," wrote Laura in an article for her alumni Hood College (Md.) magazine.
Looking back, we still marvel at how things turned out.
"You beat me at Scrabble the first time we played," she recalled. "That was a surprise."
It was short-lived, however. Our battles continue and more often than not, I'm at the losing end.
Laura's mother billed her visit to South Carolina a "mid-life crisis."
But Laura's personal story is the truly remarkable one. She wrote about it in an article about conquering adversity.
"Nineteen-ninety was a landmark year. In April, I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. I had problems with my vision and balance, and experienced numbness and incredible fatigue," Laura wrote in the article.
That same year, Ed, her first husband, died of cancer. And Laura's health was hindering her work as a speech and language pathologist.
"The most important thing in my life that has helped me through the tough times is my faith in God," Laura wrote. "A song that was meaningful to me when Ed was in the hospital for the last time was 'He Who Began a Good Work In You' (Phil 1:6)."
Four kids, four dogs and four cats later, we still face daily challenges, some of which, I may write about.
In the meantime, we're settling in to our new community in Ohio and making new friends. We're looking forward to the future.
And Laura's words continue to serve as an inspiration.
"While there have been many challenges in the last decade, what helped
me the most was simply to keep on keeping on. Life may not turn out as
I once envisioned, but sometimes, surprise endings are the best."
Copyright © 2003, Coshocton Tribune