When I was in college, my mother was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive disease called Triple Negative Breast Cancer. As a nurse, she would sometimes hear of other women and families affected by this same illness at her hospital. Shortly after her treatment ended, she got word of a beautiful young woman named Tara – a mother of three little ones, with another on the way, who was recently diagnosed with TNBC. Tara was strong, thoughtful, loving, full of life and married to a dedicated, fun, intelligent and one in a million kind of man named Matt. My mom, Renee, and I, would pray and pray for Tara, Matt, Jack, Tom, Ray (and little Sam.)
Tara fought long and hard and spent her time in treatment focusing on helping others – by starting an organization called the TaTa Sisterhood Foundation. Tara was so selfless. Even during her illness she was worried about women and families going through the same thing, and without a solid support system like the one she said she was so blessed to have nearby. She also prayed for a woman to come into Matt’s life and hoped he’d find a partner again. God called Tara home and she became everyone’s favorite angel. Now her foundation, family and friends all live each day according to her mantra: “Make Today Count."
After college, I realized I missed volunteering – I did a ton of this in school but had gotten distracted with new career opportunities. I decided to reach out to the TaTa Sisterhood Foundation and see if they needed any help. My email was forwarded to Head TaTa and Foundation President Matt Boland, Tara’s husband. We decided to meet for lunch to get to know each other and talk about areas where I might be able to help out. I was so excited to meet Matt in hopes he’d have me volunteer since the foundation’s mission sits so close to my heart, given my mom’s history.
When Matt and I met for lunch at Cantina in Clayton, he was one of the happiest people I’d ever spoken with in my life. We laughed, talked about travel, our backgrounds, Triple Negative Breast Cancer … And he also approved my request to volunteer!
Over the next eight months, I volunteered for the foundation once or twice during events and interacted with Matt in ten second increments – maybe three times total. We texted every now and then about family, foundation updates, and I’d beg him for more to do so I could help further. In February, Matt decided to take our small talk up a notch and suggested we become sushi buddies and grab dinner sometime soon. I didn’t want to assume he was interested – he was a father, a foundation president, a physician … I was a young professional dating around and spending time with my best girl friends each day. We were just in two very different places in life and people always say that timing is everything.
But, we had been chatting more frequently and when Matt insisted on picking me up for dinner, I thought, "Maybe this really is a date?" I was just so excited to see this happy man again – while he’s not running around running the world like a boss like he does. (A fun and friendly boss that everyone loves.) When Matt arrived to pick me up, I walked out of my apartment and saw him dressed so well leaning up against the passenger side of his car waiting to open the door. Walking toward him made the butterflies in my stomach go wild and all I could think of was, “Ok. Yup. Definitely a date.”
That night, we talked about all sorts of things like the mountains (which is my favorite place on earth), our families, work, fun drinks and more. After sushi we had gelato nearby and Matt took me home saying we should do this again sometime. Giddy as can be I walked inside my apartment and let how a huge sigh, but felt shocked. No way. This can’t be. I mean this might not go anywhere but WOW that was one hell of a night. Just the best time. So effortless. Even if nothing comes of this, I’ll never forget tonight.
After date one, we talked more and more and Matt always managed to surprise me. Each date was better than the previous. Our late night chats, life stories and the discussions we shared became the highlight of my days. After five or six dates, I knew I wanted to be with Matt forever. I just hoped I had what it takes to walk, love and live where Tara once did, as Tara once did – in his life, in the precious, innocent lives of Jack, Rachel, Tom and Sam. It’s truly an honor to stand where she stood and to know the people she loved. To fill such shoes is unfathomable, so I just always try to be myself and bring joy into our unique family’s world each day. To top it all off, God has also blessed me by allowing my mother to be around for the happiest days of my life, to date.
Matt told me he loved me quickly and I couldn’t fight the same feelings. There was just no keeping us apart. Nine months later Matt asked me to marry him on top of Vail Mountain. On September 30, 2017, all six of us said, "I do."