Old, young, married or dating, true love can strike, and there’s nothing like it. These readers shared their personal stories in the Post Independent’s “Love Letters” contest and celebration of Valentine’s Day and were deemed the winners by online readers.
Ashlie Bowles and Josh Appleton
When Ashlie Bowles of New Castle was diagnosed with cancer and went in for surgery a few weeks ago, she had one thing on her mind — Josh Appleton.
Bowles (aka Sweet Pea), had gone in for a routine checkup and a lump was found in her neck. Many doctor visits and needle pokes later, the lump was eventually diagnosed as papillary thyroid cancer and required her to have surgery to remove her left thyroid lobe, according to Appleton’s submission to the contest.
The otherwise healthy young woman, who had never had any health problems or surgery of any kind, faced the possibility that her entire thyroid might need to be taken out, requiring her take medication for the rest of her life as well as possible damage to her vocal chords.
Before entering the hospital on the day of the surgery, she stuck a small letter written on a piece of folded paper into the back pocket of Josh’s pants.
Josh waited for her outside of the operating room when he found the following note she had left.
They don’t talk about Snow White getting her hair brushed by her Prince Charming when she’s had too many drinks;
They don’t tell you if Cinderella’s Prince Charming ran her a bath when she’d been working on home improvements;
They don’t say whether or not Sleeping Beauty’s bed was made with her in it;
Or if Belle and the Beast kissed even with food in their mouths.
They don’t let you know if John Smith knew where each of Pocahontas’ freckles were.
Because all of those fairy tales are just make-believe.
You are the best Prince Charming of them all.
And ours is my favorite — and only — fairy tale.
I love you ... and stuff.
“I just thought it was really touching that of all the things she could have been worried about, she was thinking of me,” Appleton said sincerely. “I knew this was the girl for me ... forever.”
Ashlie and Josh met a year and a half ago at work in Glenwood Springs and have been dating ever since.
“It was definitely love at first sight for me,” Appleton said. “It was her smile.”
And luckily, Bowles’ surgery had a happy ending. Everything went well and she did not need the other side of her thyroid taken out, nor were her vocal chords affected.
“Her cancer is gone, she’s feeling fine and I have the most wonderful, loving and beautiful woman to spend the rest of my days and nights with,” Appleton said. “I love you always, Sweet Pea.”
The title of their entry, “My Favorite Fairy Tale” won them first place in the “Love Letters” contest and a $100 gift certificate to the Black Dog Saloon in New Castle.
Jenna and James Mitchell
It was three years ago that Jenna and James met while playing a pick-up soccer game. And it was definitely not love at first sight.
“Everyone always talks about love at first sight; they saw the other person and just knew it was forever! Or you will hear people say they have known each other forever and it just took a little while to realize their soulmate was right in front of them the whole time!” Jenna wrote in her contest submission. “For me and my husband, neither was the case.”
James barely acknowledged Jenna during the game and she made quick assumptions about him as well. According to Jenna, James, who is from England and an accomplished soccer player, “drilled” her in the face with the soccer ball from about five feet away.
“It wasn’t a light tap in the face, but rather left the imprint of the soccer ball on my face for days,” Jenna recalled. “Silly me to expect an apology! Nope, he kept right on playing without so much as a nod my way.” This solidified her original thoughts of him.
The couple met again at another soccer game in which Jenna was refereeing the game. She blew the whistle at James and he mouthed off to her, at which point she thought she was going to have to eject him from the game.
They did not like each other.
But fate had the two run into each other yet again, this time at a Halloween party of mutual friends.
“I had no desire to talk to him and him to me, but his good friend was a good friend of mine, so I guess it was inevitable,” Jenna wrote in her contest entry. “We started talking that night and he asked me on a date. I can’t say if it was his English accent, the alcohol or the fact that he was kind of charming that made me agree to the date, but I have never looked back.”
The couple married a year later in August 2011. They reside in Glenwood Springs.
“I don’t think I could have found someone who is a better match for me,” Jenna wrote. “I love him dearly and have learned to stay away from him during sports. But come to think of it ... I don’t think he has ever apologized for our first encounters ...”
James, of course, tells a completely different story. He said he had behaved that way to get her attention, like in kindergarten when boys punch the girls they have a crush on ... a story Jenna says she is still not sure she believes.
The couple wins second place in the “Love Letters” contest and a $50 gift certificate to the Riviera Supper Club in Glenwood Springs.
Bella Barnum and David Collier
Some women just know what they want. At least Bella Barnum of Rifle did. It was in 2001 that she met David Collier of Glenwood Springs at Vacation Bible Camp.
“He was the cute guy at the archery booth,” Barnum said with a giggle. “I made my mom wait in the car while I walked around and followed him.”
But it wasn’t until last year that they “re-met” in an acting class at Colorado Mountain College.
“I had had a tough year,” Barnum said. “I lost my older sister and my best friend. David was there for me the whole time, and we’ve been dating ever since.”
Collier does not know that Barnum sent in a submission to the contest, and reading this article is the first time he is seeing this poem that she wrote for him.
To My Beloved,
If mere words could express
the love I have for you,
I would speak them all.
If kisses could sustain me,
I would live forever
on the sweet taste of your lips.
And if souls truly are lonely,
then you have rescued mine from despair.
You are the light in the darkness,
the comfort of home,
the smell of adventure,
the muse of my poem.
Stay dutiful, stay true
stay beautiful, stay you.
The couple wins a $25 gift certificate to Zheng Asian Bistro in Glenwood Springs.