Liliana Ospina & Brian Shields
Brian and I met over a decade ago–in the fall of 1997 at Paul VI High School in Fairfax, Virginia. I do not remember the exact day or moment that we met, but I knew that he would be a friend for the rest of my life.
We were good friends throughout our high school years, even dating for a brief time as sophomores and attending junior prom together. Senior year, we promised to stay friends and to stay in touch.
…And we did.
We continued to keep each other updated on our lives over the years, and we would periodically run into one another. However in 2011, at what was supposed to be a dinner between friends, we had our first date. May 25 was our first date at Jackson’s in Reston, Virginia. We had dinner with several other friends, but when they left, we stayed and talked until the restaurant closed.
We both knew that Brian had enlisted in the Navy and would be leaving on June 6 for nine weeks with no access to the outside world except for letters. We were hesitant of starting something, but it was too late. We became inseparable and spent every moment we could together until he left, which included two trips to Lake Anna, where his parents have a house. At the time, I was staying with our friend (and amazing photographer), Astrid, and she warned me, “If you go to the lake, you’re going to fall in love!!” I nervously laughed and said, “No way, he’s leaving in two weeks.” She was right; I was wrong.
While he was away at boot camp, we wrote each other letters every single day for 63 days. I can still remember how excited I was to receive the first packet of letters and how excited I was every Thursday that summer because I knew I’d receive my weekly packet. By the end of those nine weeks, I knew that I had found the person I wanted to spend the rest of my life with: my best friend.
Unfortunately, after boot camp, Brian was sent to Pensacola, Florida for five months, and we dated long distance until his transfer to Virginia Beach in January 2012. We now live together and await the day when we get to share our union with family and friends.
Brian is one of the kindest, most generous people I have ever met, and I consider myself fortunate that I get to spend every day of the rest of my life with my best friend, learning how to be a better person.