How They Met: Racing Hearts
After completing four months of intensive training, Caren and Daniel were ready for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's "America's Most Beautiful Bike Ride," a 100-mile ride through the hills of Lake Tahoe, Nevada.
As they approached the end of the event, Daniel turned to Caren and shouted out: "Should I bike ahead and take a picture of you crossing the finish line?" Caren's reply: "I'd rather we crossed together." With that, Daniel grabbed one of her hands off the handle bars, raised it to the sky with his, and the couple sailed across the finish line together.
"I jumped off my bicycle, my legs feeling like Jell-O, and I ran over and hugged him," says Caren. "It was very emotional because of what we had just accomplished and the reason we were there. And I knew then that Daniel would always be my biggest supporter."
Within weeks, Daniel confided to his stepmother that he wanted to propose to Caren, but that he'd have to save up money for a ring.
"She said to me, "Don't wait -- if you know she's the one, you have to do it now," he recalls. She then offered Daniel the diamond ring that his father had given to her almost two decades earlier.
"It meant so much because I knew the devotion my stepmother had for my dad," says Daniel. "When she was at his side in the hospital, I saw two people in love to a degree that I never thought possible. Giving us her own engagement ring affirmed that she felt just as strongly about my relationship with Caren."
Daniel proposed to Caren on September 6, 2002, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. In order to give their fathers due credit for the part they played in bringing the couple together, Caren and Daniel entitled their engagement announcement: "From Bicycles to Betrothal: A Conspiracy from Above." As a way of paying tribute to their matchmakers, and as an engagement present to Daniel, Caren arranged to have two trees planted side by side in Israel in their fathers' names.
And on their wedding day, September 7, 2003, the two men were present in spirit. Daniel wore his father's dress watch, and the couple exchanged vows under a huppah, a Jewish wedding canopy, topped with a prayer shawl that belonged to Caren's father. The marriage is proof that although Caren lost her father, his ability to surprise her continues.
"My dad always told me that he wanted me to marry a nice, Jewish boy," she says. "He wasn't able to make it happen while he was alive, but somewhere from above, he finally pulled it off."
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal magazine, June 2004.