I met John Emile Bouchard in church youth group in the early ’70s. I was 14 and he was 16. We were friends, but weren’t sweet on each other until after he joined the Navy at 17. In boot camp and on various ships, he kept my picture taped above his bunk. I wore a shell bracelet he gave me from his many travels.
We wrote letters for nearly a year, racking up hundreds of pages of sentiments. He declared his love for me, and I told him I loved him, too. He talked about a future together, writing “Karen Scalf Bouchard (to be!)” in the margins of his letters.
But I was not-quite-fifteen and not ready for true love. John was not-quite-eighteen and had three more years in the Navy. (He would go on to serve a total of 25 years.)
We eventually went our separate ways, fell in love with other people, and raised beautiful families.
Sadly, sometimes life takes a toll and marriages suffer, and my 23-year marriage ended in 2002. John’s 35-year marriage ended in 2013.
Later that year, at the prompting of his sister Theresa, John contacted me through Facebook. We spoke on the phone and, shortly after that, John flew from his home in Arizona to Colorado Springs to visit me for four days.
He made another four-day trip to Colorado a few weeks later.
Shortly after that, I flew to Arizona to visit John for three days. On that trip we found themselves looking at wedding rings. The sales girl asked, “How long have you two known each other?”
We answered at the same time. John said, “Forty years.” I bit my lip and said, “Eleven days.”
Okay, so sometimes our courtship felt like a whirlwind, but today I have no doubts about our future (John says he’s never had any doubts!).
In fact, he has told me this: “On my first trip to Colorado, the moment I saw you for the first time in 37 years, I thought, There’s my Karen! Of course we are older, but standing before me was the girl I had known and loved. Your eyes. Your smile. The way your nose crinkles when you laugh. All the old feelings came rushing back and I knew I had to make you fall in love with me again.”
The truth is that John is the sanest, kindest, most romantic man imaginable, and he makes me laugh and feel cherished like no one else. After nearly 40 years he walked back into my life with this amazing husband’s heart for me, and the way he loves me won my heart all over again.
We also have no doubts about the timing of it all. There were, after all, three baby boys and two baby girls who needed to be born to the parents to whom they were given. And for these five children, for current and future sons-in-love and daughters-in-love, and for grandbabies born and yet to be born, we both are beyond grateful and feel so very, very blessed.
By the way, we don’t know what you believe about the power of prayer, or about the idea of a personal, loving God who has good things in store for each of us, but here’s an interesting twist:
Eight years ago, beloved family friend Norma Lee told me, “I’ve been praying for your future husband and the Lord told me something about him. Would you like to know what it was?”
I said, “Of course! Tell me!”
“I don’t know what this means, but the Lord told me that when you meet your husband, he will know you.”