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Our Story: Roderick & Cherise
by Love Stories
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March 23, 2020

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5 Minute Read

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Our Story: Roderick & Cherise

Credit: Cherise Miller

The year was 1995. The place was Tougaloo College. We met on a “he wants to meet you but hasn’t said anything” type of vibe. Just a few weeks after learning his interest in me, I approached Rod when I noticed him sitting outside of the library. He will tell you I was quite bold in my approach. On the other hand, I remain true to the situation being a very humble introduction of myself. What we can both agree on is right there in that moment we instantly clicked.  

Before our meeting, he spotted me walking from the financial aid office wearing a sundress, an anklet and exuding “The Last Dragon” glow. He said that moment solidified it all as he thought to himself, I was going to be his wife. I was clueless to his proclamation, but yet I was quietly enjoying the late-night conversations about religion, politics, family, and poetry. A few months passed, and we became a safe place to land for each other. However, since I was committed to someone back home, he respected the boundaries of our relationship to fully express his heart’s deepest desire. EXCEPT for this one time… 

One night cemented our deep love for each other without us even knowing. I allowed Rod to sneak upstairs into my all girl’s dorm room, and we stayed up all-night talking for hours. We shared poetry, and he sang Luther Vandross songs while massaging my soul. I felt safe in my vulnerability with him, and he also felt safe with me. What a night! 

It’s important to mention that Rod and I never shared any physical intimacy while in college. Not even that night of soul massaging. Time passed, and trauma erupted in Detroit, which prompted me to transfer to Eastern Michigan University to be closer to my family. A few years after our initial meeting and my departure from Tougaloo, I received a letter that would later change the scope of what I envisioned for my husband.  

Rod poured his heart out to me, and I didn’t respond until nearly three years later. Six years after his secret proclamation and two and a half years after I became a mom to Isaiah. After many years apart, I missed my old friend. But once we reconnected via letters and a few phone calls, he flew to Detroit to visit me and meet my son Isaiah. 

When Rod exited the plane, he smelt like Frankincense and myrrh essential oils. My heart skipped a beat toward my forever friend and soon to be the love of my life. It was clear at that moment this was the “He” I’d written about in my poetry. The one I prayed for and who proclaimed his undying love for me in that letter I received in 1997. This was the “He” who promised himself that if ever given another chance, he wouldn’t let me get away. With time finally, on our side, we were indeed ready for love! 

Growing up, neither of us had blaring examples of what love and a successful marriage were, so we weren’t necessarily shopping for a spouse in college. Early on, we experienced challenges resulting from Isaiah, and I moving to Richmond from Detroit. During this time, I felt I couldn’t be myself in communicating differences of opinion without being accused of being cold or dismissive. But I have come to understand the complexities of stress brought about by Rod giving up the freedoms of being a poetic single free bird and becoming a married father and leader of his family. 

Because of the obstacles we previously faced, we now understand what doing the work means to sustain a healthy marriage. We understand to have a happy, functional family with a close connection for generations to come; we must do the ‘work.’ We know that our marriage takes a conscious commitment to avoid getting caught up in the day to day requirements of adulting with children. But each day, we’re continuing to learn that we must consistently invest in our relationship to remain connected as a solid unit and foster a lasting love.

Reflections by @cutslikeagirl

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