Ashley and Thomas’s Natchez engagement session. Aren’t they just the most beautiful couple!
Their love story:
A. I met Thomas in January of 2012 but Thomas did not know he was meeting me! Thomas was the assistant men’s basketball coach at Southwest Mississippi Community College. At the time, I was living in Jackson, MS which is about an hour north of Summit. Being from the area and an alumnus of Southwest, I was very close to the President of the college, Dr. Steve Bishop and his wife, Melanie. Dr. Bishop and Melanie convinced me to come down for a basketball game to meet Thomas. I agreed. When I arrived at the gym the very first person I ran into was Thomas and with one look I knew Thomas has no clue I was even coming that night to meet him! I wanted to crawl under the bleachers. After the Bears suffered a defeating lost at the mercy of their rivals, the Pearl River Wildcats, Dr. Bishop made his way to the locker room to inform Thomas that he needed to come out and meet me. Now I’m sure you will have to get Thomas’s side of the story but I am pretty sure the last thing he wanted to do was come talk to me! But being the wonderful, sweet person he is, Thomas came out of the dressing room with a smile and we talked until they turned out the gym lights. Once again you will have to get Thomas’s side of the story but we left that night without him even asking for my phone number. There were a few attempts here and there for dinner via Facebook but the timing just never worked out.
I did not see Thomas until the next January when I started my new job at Southwest. Thomas did not expect to see me either because he walked in and then ran directly out of my office when he realized I worked at SMCC with him! Our paths crossed occasionally and one afternoon in April I received an email from Thomas asking if he could join me on my afternoon run. He asked me to call him and I immediately found this amusing because we had not exchanged numbers but Thomas had conveniently included this number in the email. We spent most afternoons running, walking, and talking. We became very close friends but the timing was not right for me. Towards the end of summer, things finally began to fall into place and time was on our side. Our friendship grew into relationship that I could have never imagined or expected.
A. Thomas took a job as a basketball assistant at The University of Tennessee at Martin in April 2013. So our weekends together were precious. It was a typical Saturday. He had come to Summit for Memorial Day weekend and we had made the normal plans for dinner and the movies. I suggested he go play golf on Saturday because I enjoy just driving the cart. He suggest an early morning tee time and his brother who was in from Memphis joins us. We spending the day playing and while we are there he very carefully put his plan into action. Thomas’s former boss and friend had just recently resigned as the head basketball coach at Southwest to take another job so he called Thomas while we were on the course and asked him to come pick up the last of his things from basketball office in the gym but it had to be done before 9:00 p.m. because security would be locking the door. Step 1 completed. As I continue figure out what movie we were going to see that night, my best friend who was leaving for Europe in two days calls and suggest we go to dinner at a local restaurant around 8:00 p.m. since we were still playing golf and some other friends were joining us and that was the earliest they could be there. Step 2 completed. The closer it gets to 8:00 p.m. the more I realize we are going to be late to dinner once again. When Thomas FINALLY gets ready we hop in the car and head towards town but naturally and just like he hoped I reminded him about task of going by the gym before 9:00 p.m. to retrieve his things. He remembers and we head in that direction. As we pull up to the gym, He tells me just to stay in the car that he will grab the items and be right out. Patiently waiting, Thomas then calls and explains that he does in fact need my help and wants me to come inside. As I walk inside the gym, which appears to be dark, the door shuts behind me and a group of lights flips on to my left. There are lights strung from the ceiling and on those lights are 12 different pieces of paper that tell the story of the past months. As I follow the lighted path, I begin to read each story that Thomas has written. The stories ranged from our late evening jogs to many recruiting trips when I usually fell asleep on the long ride home. I laughed and cried at the same time. He even poked fun at himself about our first “dinner date” at Raising Canes. The very last story was the first night we met in that very gym. As I walked into the gym, Thomas was there kneeling where we originally stood that very first night and talked until they ran us out but this time the entire gym was lit with beautiful lights and candles. As I thought back to the night we first met to that moment we were currently living, I became overwhelmed with the love Thomas showed as well as the love God had shown by proving to me that HIS timing is truly everything. I immediately agreed and fell in love with the beautiful ring Thomas placed on my finger which belonged to his great aunt. He then whisked me away to dinner. Forty-Five minutes late now! haha When we arrived, I was surprised to find 30 of our friends and family greeting us with happy hugs and warm wishes. The best part was they had all played a part in the evening. From planning to decorating to keeping me in line. It was an night that will forever live in my memory. I later learned this night was also caught on video camera!