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How we met: ‘I found her on Facebook after 40 years and it felt like coming home’

Steve, 59, and DeSande, 55, were close at high school in Illinois but lost touch after graduating.

Four months after they reconnected, they got married.

In the winter of 1979, DeSande was a freshman at a high school in northern Illinois, close to Chicago. “It gets really cold there,” she says. “One day I was walking to school with no gloves on. I was carrying all my books and art supplies but my hands were freezing.”

That’s when she spotted Steve, who lived in the same neighbourhood.

“I was a senior at the time but I recognised her,” he says. “I saw she had no gloves and asked if she wanted help carrying her things.” She declined his offer, but when an icy blast of wind caught her off-guard, DeSande changed her mind.

After that, they became friends and he waited at the corner of her street to carry her books each morning. “I was always making sure to look out for her,” he says.

In 1980, Steve graduated from high school and joined the military. “We lost contact after that because I was constantly travelling,” he says. They married other people and had children, but neither of the relationships worked out. “I spent six years in Kansas before moving to Carbondale, Illinois, in 1996,” says DeSande.

Meanwhile, Steve moved to Mississippi in 2014 to work as a homecare worker.

In early 2021, he stumbled across a picture of DeSande on Facebook. “She had a different name from the girl I knew in high school but it was definitely her, so I added her as a friend,” says Steve. They reconnected and hit it off, reminiscing about their younger years.

“We would talk for hours on the phone,” says DeSande. Two weeks after they started chatting, Steve realised there was a romantic connection. “We always had something to talk about. I am a bit of a loner, but it was like she knew me,” he says.

DeSande felt the same way. “I was shy and didn’t have a lot of friends in high school, but talking to Steve again was easy,” she says.

After a couple of months of phone calls, Steve told DeSande he was hoping to return to Illinois. “There weren’t many job opportunities in healthcare in Mississippi and I needed a better income,” he says. “I really wanted to come back so I could work.”

To his surprise, DeSande told him she would come and get him, and offered to let him stay with her for a while. Although they didn’t know if things would work out romantically, he wanted to give it a go. “She drove seven hours to pick me up. Nobody has ever done anything like that for me before. I thought: ‘That’s a true friend.’”

Two weeks after he arrived, they realised their relationship was meant to be. “A month before, I was in bed, tired from work,” says DeSande. “I was living alone, just me and the cat. All I wanted was to have a man to be with me. I got my wish, and he’s tall, dark and handsome, too!”

For Steve, it felt like “coming home”. He found a job in a healthcare facility close to where they live and the couple married in July 2021, four months after they reconnected.

For DeSande, the best part of the day is having breakfast with her husband. “One of us cooks, we watch the news and later we have dinner together. We just enjoy being together – even when we’re doing different things.”

Steve says they never argue and their relationship works well because they understand each other. “We give each other space when we need it but we also spend a lot of time together. I love everything about her. I am so happy I get to spend every day with this beautiful woman.”

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