In Loving Memory: Ron Knope: January 29, 1970–September 4, 2004
Sometime before August, 2003, I joined a dating site. Often in the evenings after work, I’d log onto the site and spend some time in its chat room. It was there that I first met Ron.
I have no memory of our very first one-on-one conversation. I know it was while we were in that chat room, using the private-chat feature—and I know it was sometime before August 2003; but that’s as much as I can remember about it and as closely as I can place it.
At some point we added each other to our instant messenger buddy lists, so we could talk without having to be logged into the site first. I don’t know how often we talked like that, but it was probably at least a few times a week.
One night in August, Ron and I were chatting on instant messenger, and I asked him if we could talk on the phone instead, as my wrists were complaining about too much keyboard work. He said sure, so I called him, and we actually spoke to each other for the first time.
We talked on the phone a few nights a week. We just talked about our days, current events, the people in our lives—whatever.
In late September, 2003, some of the people from the site decided to get together so we could meet in person and just have fun. And Ron and I both decided we would attend.
Not long before the get together (but after we’d started talking on the phone), Ron posted a full-length picture of himself, and I was frankly shocked at his size.
But since I’d already come to know and care about the person inside of him, the thought of not continuing in friendship with him never even entered my head.
So we met in person for the first time at a park near Bloomington, IN. Part of that long weekend we spent with the others in the group, and part of it we spent by ourselves. We really connected during those times, and some of my fondest memories are from those few days. It was hard to part ways that Sunday afternoon. Having said that, we still thought of our relationship as a friendship—at least I did.
After that weekend, we continued talking on the phone a few nights per week, for several months. Then in the spring of the following year, he came to visit me in Columbus for a long weekend. He was planning to visit his mom in Kentucky for a week and added the long weekend on to his trip. We did pretty ordinary things—went out for coffee and later dinner, walked around a mall, watched movies, and just hung out together.
On Sunday night (he was to leave early Monday morning wthout our seeing each other again), we were at my apartment watching a movie and talking. Toward the end of our time together, I unexpectedly began to get very emotional. I totally didn’t expect it, but the tears just came.
I told him, “I don’t want you to go,” and he said, in such a sweet way, “I know.” He must have felt the same, is all I can think now. So it was very hard to say goodbye to him and watch him walk out my door.
We didn’t talk while he was at his mom’s (he didn’t want his mom to think he’d gotten a girlfriend—as a fuss would start!). During that time I started thinking things like, “Too bad I’m not in love with him—look how great he is!” Well, after a little bit of time, that started to turn into, “Hm, maybe I could.”
As soon as he returned home from his mom’s, we started talking again. I was still doing a lot of thinking about whether I could be attracted to him for more than friendship. I was thinking about it so much and so intensely, in fact, that soon I just had to know if he was thinking the same way too.
So one time on the phone, I decided to just ask him. I screwed up my courage and said, “Do you ever think about us as…together?” And he started to say, “I was just…”—I interrupted him and asked, “Just today you were thinking about it?” He said, “I’ve been thinking about it for a long time.”
Well, that just blew me away. We had both been thinking about our being more than just friends—completely independently of each other.
That began a period of our trying to get to know each other even better to see whether we’d want to be in a long-term relationship. We began talking every night. We talked about our likes and dislikes, our preferences, our views on things—all sorts of aspects of who we were and how we might be—together.
We officially began dating on the weekend of July 4th, 2004. I went to visit him in Detroit for a long weekend, and that night at dinner he asked me to be his girlfriend. Of course I said yes.
Even before that weekend, he and I had begun talking about the possibility of someday getting married. It began as a hypothetical—“If we were to get married someday, what about…?” That and the strong friendship we’d developed even before we started having romantic feelings for each other made our talking about marriage feel completely natural.
We saw each other one more time—another long weekend in the middle of August, 2004. He came to Columbus again, and we spent the whole weekend together. We didn’t do anything especially unique—we were just glad to be together.
That weekend was the first time we said “I love you “ to each other. I remember how difficult it was to part that weekend; neither of us wanted it to end.
Three weeks later, I called his house to chat as had been planned…and his roommate informed me that he had passed away. Just like that. Really, there are no words adequate for what that moment was like.
An autopsy showed that Ron had suffered a sudden heart attack brought on by severe obesity.
While Ron’s death meant the shattering of all my most cherished dreams, I would not trade knowing, loving, and being loved by him for anything. He was absolutely the best thing to ever happen to me.
Ron: I loved you then; I love you now; I will love you forever.
P.S. Because Ron and I had agreed that we were headed for marriage, I consider him my fiancé, and I have chosen to identify as widowed, as I lost the one I had intended to spend the rest of my life with. This article "gave me permission" to call myself a widow, and I'm eternally grateful to its author.