“He taught me what’s really important in life, and how precious time really is,” Lori says. “So how you spend it and who you spend it with is what matters.”
Dan had fought for disability rights, but made the biggest impression with his own approach to life. “He had his injury at the age of 16, so he lived with it for about 20 years. And he did a lot in those 20 years, more than a lot of people do in a lifetime,” Lori says. “He liked doing things big. It’s like, ‘If you’re going to do it, you might as well do it right ’ ”
And that included their relationship: “He was my biggest fan and would have done anything for me,” says Lori, who lives in Columbia. Friends often remark on what a great team they made, and how contagious their affection was. “They say, ‘We saw how much he loved you and how he treated you.’ He set the bar high.”
Lori still grapples with grief every day. And, every day, she counts her blessings for having met him. Loving Dan, she says, “was a gift — a very good gift.”
Kerilyn and Peter Russo married in 2009, their relationship was a break-up-and-make-up roller coaster. But since the wedding, their lives have been stable.
“I think when you’re not married — single or even engaged — there’s this ‘I can get out of this,’ feeling,” she says. “And when you get married, there's this settling in. I know it can be seen as ‘You’re trapped,’ but there’s also this really nice, comfy, loving feeling of, ‘Whatever happens, I’m not doing this alone.’”
Independently and as a couple, they’ve thrived in the past three years. Peter was promoted to executive chef at Chef Geoff's in Tysons Corner. Kerilyn launched a Web site, Married to a Chef, that is a virtual gathering place for the significant others of people in the restaurant industry. While continuing to work as a designer, she also became a certified life coach, her true calling, she says.
In most ways, marriage is better than Kerilyn expected, but she is long past believing it’s a cure-all. “As my dad says, ‘Perfect only exists in the dictionary.’ I think that’s true. Marriage is work. There’s high tide and low tide. There are times when you feel really close to them and times when you feel like you’re apart.”
But the commitment between the Springfield couple makes the waves easier to ride. Kerilyn turned 38 on New Year’s Eve, and Peter is 41. They’re hoping to start a family this year and to figure out where to settle long term — in Washington or elsewhere. Regardless, they’re enjoying the adventure.
“I’m happier than I’ve ever been in my life,” she says.
Less than two months after Deborah Fleischaker and Aram Schvey became engaged, she found a lump in her breast: cancer. Because chemo was likely to send her into early menopause, she underwent fertility preservation that produced a single fertilized embryo. The couple named it “Frosty.”