It was August 2015. Hundreds of bright-eyed first-years — including me — were moving into Loyola. It’s a strange time for an 18-year-old. You’ve heard all your life, college is the best part of your life and the friends you make last a lifetime, so every person you meet is a potential lifelong friend and every chance encounter is full of possibility. But that’s a lot of pressure to put on two people meeting for the first time, so it mostly just ends up being awkward.
I was sitting in the dorm room of a guy who would become a lifelong friend, but at the time he was just some cool guy who lived two doors down from me.
We’re sitting in his room when the door bursts open and a tall, blonde girl with long legs dressed in purple leggings flies into the room. In my memory she glides in, but this girl is so much the opposite of graceful there’s no way she glided.
The girl immediately runs toward my new friend and wraps her arms around him. I was impressed, this new friend already has girls practically throwing themselves at him and we just got here.
While it turns out the girl and my new friend weren’t dating, both of them would soon become some of my closest friends.
The girl, Claire Stoddard, and I started dating February of our sophomore year. But this isn’t the story of how we met. This is the story of what happened right after we started dating and how it shaped who we are.
We started dating Feb. 20, 2017. Eleven days later, on March 3, 2017, my dad died.
Now that’s a lot of pressure to put on a new relationship, even between two people who’d been good friends before.
But this girl, my god this girl, ditched her spring break plans and drove to Cleveland to be with me. She spent a week just being by my side while also meeting my entire extended family.
Since then, she’s never once blinked as we go through this strange college experience of falling in love while one of us is grieving the loss of a parent.
She’s one of the strongest, brightest, most loyal people I’ve ever met. She’s caring and warm and beautiful and funny and charming. Every single one of these qualities will make her an excellent nurse, but they also make her an excellent partner.
Claire, who has spent two years asking me when I’m going to put her name in the newspaper, has a Valentine’s Day birthday.
So here it is, on this Valentine’s Day issue of The Phoenix, Claire Stoddard’s debut. Happy birthday.
Every single staff member on The Phoenix has someone in their life who is just as important to them as Claire is to me. These people are why we do this. We want to make Loyola, this place we all love, better for the people we love.
We have a great paper for you this week. It’s full of important stories as well as interesting and funny stories that can hopefully make Loyola a better place for the people we love and the people you love. Enjoy.