True love can sometimes be a journey. For Kate MacNeil and Paul Damon, it certainly was. From childhood sweethearts to growing apart, here's their story of how they finally found their way back to one another.
24 Years Later…
Sometimes it takes a few bumps in the road for love stories to reach their happily ever after. The road to true love can be filled with major detours, long rest stops, and constant rerouting directions.
At least, that's what it felt like for Kate MacNeil and Paul Damon. Their ride to true love was filled with endless twists and turns. From being best friends to barely speaking, it felt like love was always an arm's reach away. And it took time and courage for them to grab it. Here's their remarkable story.
Boy Meets Girl
Once upon a time, not too long ago in the 1990s, a young girl crossed paths with a young boy. If this were a movie, Wonderwall by Oasis would likely be playing in the background. The guitar would strum as Paul Damon laid eyes on Kate MacNeil for the first time.
They met in 1997 when they were 13 years old, right in the middle of their awkward stages as they faced the trials and tribulations of adulthood. The two were introduced to each other by Paul's sisters at a local dance studio. And, well, the rest was history.
Paul and Kate were instant best friends. The teens were obsessed with each other and would tell each other, well, everything. After school, they would spend hours on the phone with one another. And they never ran out of things to talk about. Seriously.
Sometimes they would even fall asleep while they were still on the phone with one another. To the naked eye, everyone wanted a bond like this - a significant other to spend hours on the phone, passing the time. Paul and Kate were, no doubt, lucky to have each other.
A Painful Secret
Even though the duo told each other everything, there was one thing that Kate kept from Paul. It was a secret that could have ruined everything. What could it possibly be? What was so big that Kate couldn't tell her best friend? The truth was that it actually had to do with him.
Kate liked Paul - and we mean, really liked Paul. She was "mad" about her best friend... but he had no idea. They spent hours talking on the phone every night, yet she couldn't find a way to tell her best friend just how much he meant to her. So, for now, she kept the secret to herself.
"We'd Never Kissed"
The pair were still as thick as thieves. Kate recalled, "We were practically in a relationship, but we'd never kissed." They would talk forever, yet they could not take the plunge to the next step. After all, it takes a lot of courage to move from friends to something more.
There were so many factors for Kate to consider if she would tell Paul how she felt about him. What if they lost the friendship they had spent so much time building? What if this changed everything for them? So, she continued to keep quiet about her feelings - for now, at least.
A Chance at Love
Enough was enough, though. After countless minutes spent on the phone together and hours spent getting to know each other, Kate decided that she was going to take the biggest leap of faith: She was going to finally express how she felt to Paul. There was no going back now.
And so, when they were 18 years old, years after they had first met, Kate took the leap of faith: She went in for the big kiss. When she leaned in, there were so many questions running through her head. The biggest question, most likely, was what was going to happen next...
Rejected & Confused
"I took the plunge to kiss him when we were 18, but he turned his head," Kate recalled to SWNS News Service. She was heartbroken, understandably so. It took so much bravery to go in for that kiss, only to be rejected by her best friend. What now?
What was she to do after such heartbreak? Right after he turned his head, she confessed, "I ran away embarrassed and broken." Were things ever going to be the same between these best friends? Were they going to be able to recover from this rejection? It didn't seem likely…
Unfortunately, the pair were never able to get back on track after Kate's painful rejection. And eventually, the former best friends lost touch. How heartbreaking for Kate to lose her closest friend because she decided to take a risk and a shot at love.
Kate did a courageous thing by putting herself out there like that. Yet, on the road of love, sometimes the path isn't as straightforward as it should be. They were on a detour, and eventually, life got in the way, as it tends to. So, where did they go from here?
Leading Separate Lives
After they finished high school, Kate and Paul went on separate paths. Paul enlisted in the United States Navy. Meanwhile, Kate moved away from their town of Williamsburg, Virginia, to attend the University of Alabama. The once best friends were now driving down different roads.
Kate studied English Language Arts while she was at the University of Alabama. Paul became a hull maintenance technician during his time in the Navy. It seemed strange that people who were once so close had become practically strangers. And yet, they carried with their lives.
Becoming a Mom
Eventually, Kate got married to someone else. She welcomed two beautiful boys and named them Colin and Brady. Everything finally seemed to be going right for the romantic. She had a wonderful family that she loved very much. As for her former crush?
Paul also moved on from that painful memory. He, too, fell in love and got married. It seemed like ages ago for both of them that they had been talking nonstop. They had grown apart and were now living their own lives - Kate, as a mother, and Paul, busy with his career.
While they may not have spoken in years, Paul and Kate were able to keep tabs on each other through Facebook. After making accounts on the social media website, they friended each other. Being friends on Facebook allowed them to see what the other was up to without picking up the phone.
Kate and Paul lived in different states but knew what was happening in the other's life through posts and photo albums. It was like getting a secret glimpse into the other's life through the website. They never reached out to each other, though. They continued driving down their separate roads of life.
Saying Hello to Self-Love
Kate was busy being a mother of two and a middle school teacher. She was constantly juggling many things all at once, but she decided that she was also going to focus on herself. She wanted to make time to make herself feel healthier and better - so she began her fitness journey in 2020.
She posted on the social media application Instagram the entire process. She would also share motivational posts to keep herself and her friends going. Through her posts, she reminded everyone in her life that it is okay to take time for themselves. But behind closed doors, Kate was going through a dark time.
What happened? Sadly, Kate's marriage was on the rocks. She and her husband were having issues. And eventually, they decided that the best thing to do was to part ways, so they got a divorce in December 2020. During all that, Kate never lost sight of her journey and continued documenting her fitness journey online.
Katie remained strong for her children and herself. But she was ready for a fresh start for her family. So, she packed everything up and moved to Florida with her two sons. The single mother wanted to start anew - but something from her past kept creeping inside her mind.
A Sign From the Universe
Kate kept thinking of her childhood best friend - the former love of her life. She could not get him out of her mind. But what could she realistically do about it? Besides, they lived in different states and hadn't been in contact for ages. They had moved on from that time in their lives. Right?
"I never forgot him and kept wanting to know what he was up to," she confessed. Sure enough, Kate couldn't shake the feeling that the universe had finally aligned for them. And so, she found the courage to make another bold decision: She was going to reach out to him, once and for all.
Reaching Out, Again
"I'd see what he was up to from Facebook, so I knew Paul had gotten a divorce, but I wasn't sure if he still had a girlfriend," she recalled. So, at 38 years old, decades since the last time they spoke, Kate decided to take another leap of faith. She was ready to reach out to Paul.
Kate took to her computer and typed up a message on Facebook. Now, all she had to do was wait for a reply. Was he going to message her back? If he did, what was he going to say? There were so many unanswered questions. She didn't know what to think anymore.
What Happened to Paul?
A few days passed without anything from Paul. Not so much as a 'like' or any acknowledgment that he had received her Facebook message. Then, before Kate knew it, an entire week went by. Here she was, putting her heart out again - and for what? She felt crushed.
More time passed, and she still did not hear from Paul. Maybe she shouldn't have expected anything from him. After all, it had been so many years since they were together. Even if she felt a certain way about their relationship, would he feel the same? Perhaps she would never know.
Two Weeks Later…
Two weeks went by - and still no word from Paul. Kate was devastated the entire time as she waited for a message. What was taking him so long? Was he ever going to respond? Sure enough, after 14 endless days, he did: "Hey stranger," her childhood sweetheart suddenly wrote.
"It was like nothing had changed," Kate gushed about their first conversation. After years without communication, they had settled back into being teenagers. It was as if they had been transported to another time - simple times, back when it was Kate and Paul against the world.
A Plan Is Hatched
Sure enough, shortly after Paul replied, they spoke for hours. It was really like nothing had changed in all that time. They both agreed that they wanted to see each other... but there was a slight issue: They didn't live in the same city anymore.
Kate was living in Port Charlotte, Florida, and Paul was all the way in Williamsburg, Virginia. What were they going to do? There were so many logistics to figure out, but the newly reunited sweethearts did not care about any of that. They decided that despite the distance, they had to meet up.
The Moment of Truth
After weighing their options, they agreed that Paul would fly out to Kate in Florida, where she lived with her two kids. But the anticipation must have been killing both of them. They spent so many years apart, and now they were finally going to reunite. What if it wasn't the same in person? What if there were no sparks?
There was only one way to find out if there was something between them - they had to see each other. But as Paul sat on his flight to the Sunshine State, his mind was racing. What was going to be the first thing he would say to her? In a matter of time, he would find out.
As Paul landed at the airport, Kate waited anxiously to pick him up. Years after she wore her heart on her sleeve - only to get it crushed - the two were trying things again. But the stakes were higher than ever before. It was truly now or never. And she was terrified.
Sure enough, as she headed towards his gate to meet him at the exit, all of her nerves vanished. "I picked him up from the airport and kissed him," she gushed. "It was our first one - 24 years later." After many detours, their paths crossed once again. Only this time, it was different. They could feel it in the air.
Making Up for Lost Time
Paul had planned to be there for one week. So, during that trip, they made the most of their precious time. They went on their first date and had a magical week together. It was almost as if they picked up where they left off all those years ago.
But what was going to happen next? Paul lived in Virginia and was working as a master woodworker. Kate had two children and a job as a school teacher in Florida. They had their lives set up. They had a great time together, but how could they make this work? Was this reunion too good to be true?
The Ultimate Gesture
It turns out that Paul wasn't going to let a good thing slip away twice in his lifetime. The couple decided that Paul would move to Florida and live with Kate and her kids. So, six weeks later, he packed up his things in Virginia, said goodbye to his old life, and moved to Florida to begin the next chapter.
From years of not talking to each other to moving in together, Kate and Paul were giving their love a real chance. Things had never really taken off the first time, and now they were giving it a proper try. It was the beginning of their happily ever after.
"I Always Loved Him"
During all those years they spent apart, they never forgot about one another. Kate admitted, "I always loved him." She never forgot the boy who she would be on the phone for hours with. She was not able to fully let go of Paul, despite the distance.
But she wasn't alone, either. Paul was also thinking of Kate constantly. He could never get her out of his head. "I can't remember a time when I didn't think about Kate - in all the years we were apart," he confessed. Their hearts were always intertwined, despite the parallel paths they opted for.
Regretting His Actions
Paul recalled, "I felt like an idiot when I freaked out when she tried to kiss me." And to think, their lives could have been so different if he hadn't done that. They wouldn't have had to spend years apart wondering, 'what if?' They could have begun their love story so much sooner.
Thankfully, Kate decided that she was going to reach out to Paul. She was not going to let possible rejection get in the way of her happy ending. Kate took matters into her own hands and gave her love another chance. Then, they got another opportunity to find love.
Kate and Paul were officially a couple, and their love wasn't taking a pit stop anytime soon. After Paul moved in with Kate and her two boys, he instantly became part of the family. They have since celebrated birthdays and Christmases together. Like nothing had ever changed.
They have even taken trips to Disney World, where all of them dressed up in matching Mickey shirts. They also went to Legoland and spent time in nature together. It didn't matter if they got a late start to having a life together. Paul and Kate were making up for lost time - to say the least.
Even though they spent so much time apart, no one was able to live up to Kate in Paul's eyes. He admitted that "Nobody has been able to compete with her." For Paul, the standard was Kate, and no one was able to live up to it. It was hard for others to match up against his best friend.
For Paul, it was hard to compete with someone as caring and loving as Kate. She was a great mother who loved to show off anything her kids did. She had even posted artwork that they've done onto her social media! There is no doubt that Kate is one proud momma!
Dream Come True
Their love is a lesson for the entire world. Sometimes it might take a few tries to get the engines going, but once it takes off, the journey is priceless. "It took 24 years, but I wouldn't change our journey. It's a dream come true," Kate gushed.
It was almost like when Prince Charming slid the glass slipper onto Cinderella's foot after he had looked near and far to find her. Finally, his happily ever after was in his hands. Kate and Paul were on their way to their fairytale ending. While life is not like the storybooks, their love seemingly is.
Plans for the Future
Unlike when they were teenagers, Paul and Kate have since made plans for the future. Paul got down on one knee and proposed to his childhood sweetheart all these years later. And the answer was easy. "Yes!" The two are planning to get married in July 2023.
Clearly, a lot has changed since they were 18 years old. Now there is social media, and people use smartphones to communicate, unlike in the 90s when people had to use a pay phone or take photos on disposable cameras. But some things don't change no matter how much time has passed - like love and friendship.
"We're still best friends. We're perfect for each other," Paul explained of their unbreakable bond. Despite their story's twists and turns, it seems true love won in the end. And perhaps we can all use it as a reminder not to give up and to always chase the impossible.
Kate said about her decision to reach out to him, "I came to a point in my life where I knew I needed to reach out and see if he felt the same way." She could not go on with the rest of her life wondering what would happen if she didn't take the risk. And, well, we know how that story ended.
From childhood sweethearts who could never get off the phone to adults building a blended life together, Kate and Paul's story is one for the ages. They went through so many different stages of life, sometimes together and sometimes not - yet they never forgot each other throughout it all.
Twenty-four years after Kate was rejected for her first kiss with Paul, he finally returned the kiss. "Sometimes things come in the most least expected time," Paul reflected. It may have taken them time to find their way back to each other, but they did. And we can't wait to see what comes next...