DANBURY, Conn. -- Jessilyn and Michael Westhoff both grew up in Pittsburg, Kan., but it wasn’t until after he moved 1,500 miles away that they fell in love.
Though Pittsburg boasts just 20,000 or so people, Michael was older and attended a different school, so the pair never met.
But Jessilyn did meet Michael’s mom, whom she collaborated with on several projects at work. One day, Michael’s mom asked whether Jessilyn would like to meet her son sometime when he was back home visiting from Connecticut.
“I didn’t like being set up,” Jessilyn said, “but I thought to myself, ‘He lives in Connecticut. We’ll go to dinner and then I’ll never see him again, so why not?’”
They met in July 2006 and ended up hitting it off. But the distance between them meant most of their communication that first year was via email.
In one message, Jessilyn mentioned a life goal: She wanted to visit all of the Major League Baseball stadiums. Michael said he’d take her to some, if she ever wanted to come visit Connecticut and New York.
She flew out in June 2007.
“It was kind of strange staying with someone I hardly knew for a week, yet not strange because we got along very well,” she said.
They now mark their first official day as a couple as the day she left because their parting ended with their first kiss.
The long-distance romance blossomed in hours-long phone calls and trips back and forth every other month for the next 18 months.
He loved her smile, her spirit and her “vibrant laugh.” She loved his sense of humor and his kindness.
“I knew I could really fall for him that first week I visited him, when I saw him help a woman — a stranger — up the subway stairs with her baby stroller,” Jessilyn said.
Michael proposed at the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree on Jan. 3, 2009.
They were married on Aug. 8 and now live in Danbury with their two sons.
“Yes, long distance relationships do work!” Michael said. “I am blessed to be married to an amazing and beautiful person who is a loving and incredible mother to our two sons. The best part of my day is coming home and spending time with my family.”
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