Elena was a big skeptic of online dating. It wasn’t a generational thing, but the 20-year-old from Washington state didn’t believe she needed a computer, of all things, to find the right man for her. Her mom and sister felt differently and kept after her about the lack of a real social circle and no connections with good guys. Online dating, they advised, was the way to go, and Elena finally gave in.
The idea that she would meet a man from Michigan probably seemed even further out of the question, but the circumstances were right. Joshua was in no hurry to jump headlong into a relationship, having come off a breakup with his girlfriend of a year. And he was in college in Alaska, where he was training to be a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army. It wasn’t in Elena’s backyard, but the flights that came through Seattle would be important to a growing relationship.
Elena’s newfound openness to online dating wasn’t enough to go for a full subscription, so she was unable to respond when Joshua followed up an exchange of emotigrams by sending her a chat request. Upon reviewing his profile, she was interested — what could be better than a faithful Catholic committed to serving his country?
Since it was Mom’s bright idea to get her hooked up with CatholicMatch, Elena told her about Joshua, and Mom paid for a one-month subscription. That was all it took.
Chats led to webcam and a real friendship was deepening.
“He was sweet, kind, funny and a true gentleman,” Elena recalled. She told him how he felt. He assured her he felt the same way, but just wanted to wait a bit to make sure he was fully beyond the old relationship. “That was fine with me,” Elena told CatholicMatch.
Josh’s Christmas break trip home afforded them an opportunity to meet. He set up a two-hour layover in Seattle, but a flight delay cut their time together to 20 minutes.
“It was awkward at first,” Elena said. “We didn’t get to talk much. Before we knew he had to leave.”
Awkward or not, they continued to talk and now their conversations went to a deeper level. They talked about the possibilities of marriage and what their hopes and dreams were. “The more I learned, the harder I fell for him,” Elena said.
Another quick visit followed, as Josh had a half hour in between flights on his way to a conference in Virginia. A month later he graduated from college and the couple set up plans for him to spend a few days with her and then fly out and spend time with his family. But once again, their time was cut short. He was being sent to Fort Knox, so they wouldn’t be able to go to Michigan.
It was a disappointment, but Joshua and Elena continued to set a tone of making the most of the opportunities they did have, rather than lamenting the ones they didn’t. He was able to spend the planned time in Washington. They went to a baseball game, saw the zoo and had a barbecue with friends. And Joshua spent a little time with Elena’s dad.
“A few hours before we left for the airport, Joshua asked me if we could go for a walk back in the woods behind my house,” Elena recalled. “He asked if I would please be his girlfriend. I was more than happy to say yes.”
The commitment to a dating relationship really helped things to take off. It wasn’t a dream courtship — they had their arguments and some difficult times. But they trusted in God, loved each other and were willing to work things out.
This past August, Joshua caught Elena by surprise when he flew into town and wanted to take her to Mount Rainier the next day. At one point, he pulled the car over and began to take her on a hike down an eight-mile trail. About a quarter of the way into the scenic walk, he began to walk off the beaten path.
“I thought he was nuts to be walking off the trail in a National Park,” Elena said. “He assured me that he knew what he was doing and that he wanted me to follow him.” She rolled her eyes but followed.
“Then he stopped and I came around him to see what he was looking at. It was the most perfect waterfall I have ever seen…like something out of a movie,” she continued. Joshua had something special for her: a book about them. It was titled Once Upon A Skype: An Internet Love Story. She began to read it.
When Elena reached the book’s penultimate page, Joshua had a special epilogue. Writing in the third person, his words said. “He told her how he felt. How he needed the girl, how he was sure that they were soulmates, and how he had to have her by his side for the rest of his life. He said how she was a blessing from God Himself and that he would want nothing more than to help her get to heaven where they could enjoy eternity forever with Jesus. So, he took the girl with the beautiful eyes by her hands, he got down on one knee, pulled out a ring, and said…”
She turned to the book’s final page to read “Elena Clare Turner, will you marry me?”
Once Upon A Skype may have only had one reader, but it became a true blockbuster.