At the beginning of the month we invited our followers to enter a contest to win a CI$250 Camana Bay Gift Card for their Valentine this Valentine’s Day by sharing with us their love stories. We received so many amazing entries and, in the end, it was too hard to pick just one. Alicia Parry won us over with her beautifully told love story but we also gave Yasmin James and Nicole Eastman CI$50 gift cards for their touching tales as well.
We are sharing the stories here for you to enjoy, and check back every day this week as we share some of the others we received – there were just so many good ones, we have to share the love all week long!
First place winner: Alicia Parry
“Back in 2005, after graduating from my small, Catholic university in San Diego, California, I decided to pack up my life and moved across the globe to teach English as a second language in China. The years I spent in Asia were some of the most rewarding of my life, for the many challenges, the awe-inspiring immersion in other cultures, the food, the journeys, and most of all, the people. I feel so fortunate for the friendships gained during these years, with my students, their families and my colleagues who became like my family when I was so very far away from home.
But most of all, I feel fortunate for the opportunity to have embraced my upside-down life in China, because it’s what brought me to my husband on nothing less than a star-crossed night, June 7th, in Hong Kong. As cliché as it may sound, I saw him from across the room (bar). I bought him a drink (beer). And, well, the rest really is history. I don’t necessarily believe in fate. But some things, some rare things are meant to be – like a Welsh boy from Barry walking into a crowded bar and an expat California native agreeing to one more nightcap with friends. As it turned out, this Welsh boy was headed back to the UK, after months of travelling, to complete his Law School degree. And strangely enough, this California native was finishing her teaching contract in Hong Kong, and headed to England, at the same time, to complete her Masters. Perhaps it’s not fate. It’s more like serendipity.
Amidst a rigorous year of post-grad education for both of us, we visited each other as frequently as possible. I first met his family on Thanksgiving Day. They cooked a turkey and placed tiny American flags all over the dinner table. I still have one in my wallet that I keep with me to this day. We went back to California and spent time with my family, enjoying the California sunshine and talking the nights away with my mom, dad and brother. And somewhere along the way, we fell in love, not just with each other, but with everything that makes us us. I fell in love with his family, the way he treats his mother and his sisters. I learned to love (okay, like) his love of sports. He fell in love with my addiction to hot sauce, the way I take care of my brother, and my passion for food.
Five years later, on June 7th, the exact same day we met in that Hong Kong bar, we got married.
Now we find ourselves on a new adventure in beautiful Cayman. And although life can have its challenges, even in paradise, we know we have each other and a love for each other that can conquer, maybe not all, but almost. And if you have that, no matter what your love story is or becomes, you have the right ending.”
Runner-up: Yasmin James
“My mother passed away in 2009 leaving me and my sister both in our early 20s. That year I found out I was pregnant and although it was a difficult time, I was overjoyed at the news. In March of 2010 the love of my life arrived and she was perfect, every day that I get to spend with her is amazing – she adds so much love and excitement to my life. I know that traditionally Valentine’s Day has been about a romantic partner, but a child is a partner that you will truly have for life and they change you and force you to grow in ways a partner cannot. I’m so grateful for my little blessing.”
Runner-up: Nicole Eastman
“My husband and I were married here in Cayman at Grand Old House on November 26, 2010. We found out about this gorgeous island from a woman that I was sitting next to on a plane just after my husband and I got engaged. At the time, my husband was working in professional baseball as an umpire in the U.S. minor league division. I shared with this beautiful Caymanian woman that my fiancé and I were looking for a destination wedding and that is when she said, “Why not get married where I am from?” I didn’t even know that this island existed!
Two weeks after we were married here, I was back in Michigan on my way to the hospital where I was a doctor in my residency. At nearly 65 mph I was hit by a semi truck on the expressway and this ended my life as I knew it. My near-fatal accident on December 15, 2010, resulted in tremendous loss beyond my control, pain that became chronic, resulting in me spending seven months in bed due to the effect that the Michigan cold had on my body, and, thankfully, an acceptance of the beginning of my journey of healing. Part of this journey included coming back to Cayman to renew our vows on our one-year wedding anniversary. We had already contemplated moving somewhere warm, but did not expect to leave the U.S. After sharing with the pastor who married us what had happened since our wedding just a year earlier, and sharing about the “for worse” and “for sicker” that was experienced pretty much right from the start, his words to us were, “You’re supposed to be here”. He did not know that we were contemplating a move. Our next visit was during Easter 2012 and this is when we decided that we were going to take a huge leap of faith and move out of the country, despite us just finding out that I was pregnant with our son.
In August 2012, after selling as many of our belongings as we could, my husband and I moved to the island with our four cats and 12 boxes. I was six months pregnant with our son at the time. Since our move, we’ve had two children, Jack and Kaitlyn, born here at George Town Hospital. I’ve been afforded more healing living next to the beautiful Caribbean Sea. We’ve been given an opportunity to grow in our marriage through plenty of hardships and trials and we’ve both been afforded the opportunity to serve the community. My husband currently works at Sir John A. Cumber Primary School and I feel honoured to admin the group Caymums while being at home with our little ones and while building on other opportunities to use my education and experiences to help serve the community more in the near future.
My husband and I have experienced most of our most treasured moments here, our wedding, the birth of our children, and so many treasured memories in Cayman and we feel most fortunate to have this beautiful island as the backdrop to our love story. Thank you Cayman for allowing us to call this island our home. We feel most grateful.”