Although we went to Granbury High School together, we did not actually meet until the Spring of 1996. At that time, Jennifer was a sophomore, and even though I had graduated in 1995, I was still living in Granbury. By early 1996, we had begun to socialize with many of the same people and we eventually met at a party on the Paluxy River. After a few chance encounters, a mutual friend encouraged us to exchange phone numbers. We started to talk often and for long periods of time, and nearly immediately we began to spend all of our time together, which was easy since we had so many mutual friends. Within only a few weeks, we knew there was something special about our relationship; something told us that we truly fit together in that we complemented each other nicely - Jennifer wanted a nice boy to get close to and I was all too happy to be that boy if only I could call that beauty queen my girlfriend. It was a very natural relationship that came easy. Adversity, however, was on the horizon. Prior to meeting Jennifer, I had already officially joined the US Coast Guard and was slated to leave for boot camp that coming summer. Though we knew it would be difficult, we decided to remain in a committed, long-distance relationship to see if we could pull it off. Given my USCG commitments, we spent the next 2 years living in separate cities, sometimes separate states. Our relationship, however, remained intact and we knew we wanted it to grow stronger and deeper.