April Roberts Cohen was born, um, er, well, two years before I was. Her name was going to be Karen, but when she was born April 9, our parents were divinely inspired to name her April. From a human perspective, this helped them remember her birthday.
As mentioned, I came along two years later. From an early age, April assumed the role of surrogate mother. She was exceptionally caring. At three she was found to have taken me off the bed and was cuddling me with her blanket. It can’t be proven, but I think she dropped me on my head in the transition. That would explain a lot, anyway.
Our lives followed distinct paths, but merged when I was diagnosed with a mental illness and she became a psychiatric nurse. Now, in addition to being my sister-friend, she helps me monitor my moods and meds, advocates for me in the often complex world of mental health care, and encourages me in my walk with Christ.
Perhaps the greatest thing I can say about April is I have made her my medical power of attorney. I literally trust her with my life and death.
Jen Anne (Johnston) Riddle and I met in April 2009 while I was visiting my sister in Boston. Jen was my sister’s roommate. I was there to see my sister run in the Boston Marathon. They were part of an intentional Christian community and I was the lucky man who had brother privileges. I stayed in an empty room next to Jen’s room. About a year later, we struck up daily phone conversations that led me to two more Boston trips for long weekends of dating around the city. Our first kiss was in a public park in Salem, Massachusetts. You may say I was bewitched.
She had courageously left Boston to live close to me in Columbus, IN in August 2010. She was able to transfer Masters of Divinity credits to Christian Theological Seminary and continue her career working with children with autism.
In 2012, I proposed to Jen in a labyrinth in Bloomington, IN. My youngest sister secretly hid behind bushes about 100 feet away and took pictures. Jen left the labyrinth with a ring on her finger.
The picture above was taken in October 2017 during our 5 year wedding anniversary trip. The labyrinth is carved into a gentle sloping hill at Kent University in Canterbury, England. In the background is the Canterbury Cathedral
Jen is now an elder at The Living Room church in Columbus, IN. She continues to serve children with autism. She is very good at what she does, including being an incredible wife.