So Bryce and I dated for 9 months (and two of those I was in Italy for a study-abroad program; engaged, love-sick, and pathetic). It was a gorgeous day when we were married in a beautiful ceremony in the Salt Lake temple on August 21, 1995. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world.
As strange as it might sound, when we first discussed having a family I didn't think about infertility. I didn't think about that deep-down feeling. I wasn't denying or challenging my earlier promptings--I just never gave them a thought. I wanted to have babies and I assumed I would, in a few years when we were ready.
We continued as a married couple at the Family Support and Treatment Center, but this time as respite house parents. We worked overnight shifts on weekends, for the children who stayed for extended periods of time.
There were several bedrooms, and some nights they were all full; sometimes we had no one. One of our first little overnight guests was a 2-year-old named Jesse who loved trucks and frequently exclaimed, "Diesel!" We tried everything we knew (not much) to help him settle in for bed. But he was the Energizer Bunny. About midnight, Bryce and I got in our bed and made Jesse a little pallet on the floor. He vroomed in circles with his toy big-rig at the foot of the bed. Eventually he crawled slower and slower, his shout of "Diesel!" became more infrequent, and finally he collapsed right there on the carpet, truck in hand.
Another time we had two sisters who took a bath before bed; the bathroom was huge, with a tub and a separate shower. The girls took turns running from one to the other, laughing and having a grand time. My first thought was to stop them from making a mess. But then I thought about how these girls were spending the night in a shelter because they couldn't go home. Maybe they needed this. Maybe they would look back and remember that in a scary time, they had a little fun. Bryce agreed. And while they made a spectacular mess, it was worth it.
Most of the kids were friendly and manageable. But some were angry and difficult. A 10-year-old boy we had one Saturday put all of my behavioral management training to the test. He threw a tricycle on the roof. He broke a toy airplane. He threw a football at me while I was cooking macaroni and cheese. I was really at my wit's end, fearing that he would escape the facility or harm the other children. After talking to him several times about our expectations I finally got on his level and said, "Here's the deal, Daniel. The things you break are the things you can play with, and that's it." I didn't think that was a particularly effective threat, but he smiled, became pleasant, and stopped acting out. Bryce and I looked at each other like, "What just happened here?" but we sure weren't complaining.
I finished school in December and went to work as a customer service representative at an insurance agency, where my psychology degree was used to deal with my incompetent boss and his staff of angry women. Bryce worked on finishing his degree in Political Science. In April we donned cap-and-gown and walked across the stage in the Marriott Center, graduated at last!
Bryce applied to several law schools, and his first pick, hands down, was Notre Dame. I exercised every particle of faith that I had to pray morning, noon, and night that he would get in. They had a program that was perfect for him, and a psychology Masters that was perfect for me. We were in love with everything Fort Bend. We would have jumped through any hoops to get there.
And Bryce got on the waiting list!
And he also got accepted to several other schools, including the University of Houston.
I crossed my fingers and prayed even harder that any day, any day, any day we'd get that acceptance letter from Notre Dame! We could practically hear the Fighting Irish chanting our names!
But time passed and there was no letter. In the summer, we even called the university. We were told to wait, that there may be room but there was no way of knowing until school started.
And like two kids with a helium balloon, we let go of that dream. We watched it float into the sky until it got smaller and smaller, and we missed it less and less. We knew we'd go where we needed to be, and apparently it wasn't Indiana.
It was Houston.
And going to Houston changed everything.