Every once in a while, when you least expect it, someone walks into your life and forever changes life as you know it.
For some people it happens suddenly; altering everything in an instant, making you feel like time stood still and gravity could be defied. For others, it happens gradually, like that subtle yet strong shift of the sunrise as the colours deepen and change from dark to light.
For me, it happened before I could realize, recognize or understand what was taking place around me or within me. It was like finding someone who had, all along, been walking along a different path along a mutual journey in the same direction. Our crossroads happened naturally, organically, subtly yet powerfully. Like two magnets being pulled together by a supernatural, divine force.
This monumental change in my life is named… Chris.
At first, I thought nothing of meeting him. (Sorry babe!) In my line of work as a public speaker and former Miss Canada, I meet people all the time. But little did I know that this meeting would later become so important.
A long-time mutual friend, Shylo, introduced us at a Variety- The Children’s Charity event. This organization, very close to both of our hearts, is the official charity partner of Miss World Canada and as I spent most of the day playing, crafting, dancing and blowing bubbles with children who have special needs, Chris spent most of the day filming and photographing all that took place at the event.
A few days later, I got in touch with Chris’ best friend and filming partner, Brandon, in order to organize a time to film my contestant introduction video for the upcoming 2012 Miss World pageant in Ordos, Inner Mongolia, China. Chris came along with Brandon. And over the next few days of filming we got to know each other better, goofing off while rock climbing and building what would become the beginnings of our friendship.
I left for eight weeks in Asia without a second thought. (Again, sorry babe!) The Miss World competition was five weeks long in China and afterwards I rewarded myself with a much needed family holiday to visit my relatives in Singapore.
Coming home to Canada, I made a point of reconnecting with my friends that I had missed. But Chris hadn’t made friend status yet. I took off again to Sri Lanka and the Philippines with World Vision while he left for Israel and Uganda to film a documentary of girl’s education.
Finally, while both back in the same city, we bonded over stories of international missions, the importance of carrying toilet paper and hand sanitizer in rural villages, and how to best deal with the ever present jet lag of international fights.
Here was someone who spoke my language. Who knew of the wanderlust addiction that came with watching the sunrise in each new country and shared the desire to see the world become a better place.
He is quiet yet confident, secure in himself without a need to prove to anyone. He values the underdog, spends time with the forgotten ones and stands up for the rights of women in developing nations. He doesn’t seek the spotlight and would rather not have his name on any award or recognition. He likes cars, hunting, fishing and being with those who he cares about. He’s a thinker and a do-it-yourself, do-it-right kind of guy. His heart seeks adventure. His courage challenged me to be fearless and his generosity towards others, moved me to face the selfishness of my own heart.
It wasn’t long before we were totally and completely inseparable. Chris told me early on that he shared my passion and wanted to come to all my events. To this day, he’s been to all of them. From anti-bullying rallys, to human trafficking forums, to women’s conferences, fashion shows and pageants, he can always be found front row.
Around Christmas time, we both knew there was something special that we shared but no one was ready to verbalize it.
On New Year’s Eve 2013, things changed.
We shared a New Year’s Kiss….