Cami and Tarik

How We Met: Cami and Tarik met 7 years ago on a Royal Caribbean cruise upon the Enchantment of the Seas. They shared a common family friend who coordinated a group cruise for all of them to enjoy. One evening on the cruise they hosted a family interactive game show called “The Quest” that they all attended. This game show would have families preform crazy tasks to win points and claim victory.

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Cami and Tarik ended up on the same team along with their whole group. The first time they met was during the game when they called out for a male from each group to take off their shirt, put on lip gloss and and skip around to the front of the room to earn points for the team. Before anyone could even move, Tarik took off his shirt and turned to see where he could find some lip gloss. Right behind him was Cami, with a lip gloss in her hand and a smile/smirk on her face.

He grabbed the lip gloss and put it on as he ran to the front to win first place in the event for his impressive skipping skills. He returned back to the table with his shirt half way on and extended Cami’s lip gloss back to her. She hesitated, then told him that he could keep.

He took it as a sign that she liked him and wanted to keep it as a token of when they first met, but later on he laughed when he found out she didn’t want it back because he apparently didn’t know how to put on lip gloss and shoved half of it into his mouth when applying it to his lips! From there they started talking and to this day Tarik has held onto, and still has the lipgloss she gave him the very first night they met on the Enchantment of the Seas.

How He Asked: Tarik had always had marriage on the radar, even as he had to do it old school and ask Cami’s father if he could date her, and just like everyone else on the first date asked himself 20 times if Cami was the one for him. He knew there was something different, something special between him and Cami from the beginning, but it wasn’t until later in their relationship that it become 100% clear. Tarik was going to to Pharmacy School and wanted to pursue a career as a pharmacist.

He knew Cami before he knew he wanted to go to pharmacy school and all along the way Cami was his number one fan and supported him in every way imaginable. From giving him wake up calls, to making and bringing him food, to sacrificing her time with him so he could develop his career. Never in his life had he found someone that allowed him so much personal growth, and the personal freedom that she gave him drew him all the closer to her. They would see aim to see each other at least once a week, but a lot of times it was more like every two weeks.

There came a point in his pharmacy school curriculum when he had to go on rotations around the greater florida region, meaning he would be working 40-60 hours a week and in areas that were far away from where Cami and Tarik called home. He knew in his heart that quality time was one on the most important things to Cami, and knew that going into rotations was going to consume his time and take away from what Cami needed in their relationship. He knew going into rotations that he would not have the time that Cami needed for their relationship to grow and thrive.

Not much was said before going into rotations about it but they both knew it was a big deal. During Tarik’s first rotation, things were going really rough and he told Cami about it. Later that day when Tarik was done with work, Cami had drove out to his rotation site and was waiting for him outside by his car. She just hugged him and Tarik got emotional and couldn’t find it in himself to let go. She told him that no matter what he went through, she would be there for him and supporting him, even if he didn’t have all the time to give her during his rotations.

Right then she prayed for him in a way that no one else had ever prayed for him. It was an intimate prayer, and a prayer spoken with power, that spoke to the deepest parts of his soul. A prayer of blessing, peace, and most importantly a prayer over them. It was the first time all of their cards were on the table in prayer, and the first time in Tarik’s life that he knew that this was the person he wanted to spend the rest of his life with.

Tarik had never found joy in that capacity before, nor had he ever in his life found someone to meet his needs spiritually alongside his other needs. In that moment he knew he had found what he was looking for, and he knew it would be everything he would need for the rest of his life.

Master Plan to win her heart:

Cami had never dated before so he knew that romanticism was the best way to reach Cami’s heart as she had never truly got to experience it in the way. Tarik had dated many times before and “scuffed his knees” a few times before learning what it was to be a gentleman, and to be selfless. It made sense that this was his way to prove to Cami and himself that he could be the perfect guy for her. Cami always paid attention to detail, and was very organized and loved to plan things. Picking up on these things from her gave him insight into what she was attracted to.

So from the beginning Tarik had recorded dates and things that they did together in an Evernote to track their relationship and remember the little details. Tarik held onto receipts, movie tickets, and memorable tokens of their relationship to show Cami that he was serious about their time spent together and their relationship. Every month on their anniversary date they would make it a point to hang out and add something to their memorabilia box.

Tarik researched what he found to be called ambitious anniversaries which not only tracked years togethers, but months, weeks and days together. The anniversary that stood out to him in that list was 1,000 days, and he wanted to make it something special. Thats where the idea of a jar of 1,000 hearts came from. The more time he spent thinking about the hearts and what he could do with them, the more he realized how it was the perfect canvas for thoughtfulness, and was proposal material.

Meanings of the colors of the hearts: The jar of hearts was made to be unique, and to reflect an attention to detail matched with dedication. There are a total of 8 different colored hearts in the jar. When coming up with the idea originally, the idea was to have a red heart for every day that they were apart, and a green heart to represent every day there was an Evernote entry that they spent together. He ended up sticking with the red hearts to represent time spent apart, however, after looking at the calendar and brainstorming a bit more he decided that he would pick 7 different colors, and for a couple reasons. The main reason was that he knew that he wanted to marry Cami, and he knew when he wanted to marry, and that was in 2015, 7 years after they had first met.

That would give them a colored heart for every year together and visually represent the difference in time spent together over the years. Also 7 is the number of completion and since both Tarik and Cami are christians, and have faith and church tied closely into their relationship, it just made sense. Lastly, knowing that Cami’s favorite color(s) were the blue-green colors such as aqua, turquoise, teal, robin’s egg blue, tiffany blue and etc, it was a safer bet picking multiple colors to increase his chances of finding out that would hit home with Cami.

The Proposal: Tarik proposed to Cami on their third year dating anniversary. Both had a lot going on with school at the time and things were quite busy, but to Tarik that made it all the better for the element of surprise. They went out to dinner to the place where they had their first date which was the Cheesecake Factory down at the Mall at Millennia. Their first date was special because it was also the first time they held hands. Tarik knew Cami might have been a little on his trail as he had suggested that they both dress up nicely for the evening.

They had a great time talking and reminiscing and then calling it a night early as they both had a lot coming up later in the week. They went back to Tarik’s place to exchange gifts as that had been their tradition for the past 2 years. He opened Cami’s gift first which was a collection of diary entries, poems, songs and prayers Cami had wrote that included him from before we were dating. Tarik gave Cami a gift bag and opened it to reveal the jar of hearts. She asked what it was and he handed her an envelope with a stack of cards in it.

On the stack of cards was an explanation of the jar of hearts, what the colors represent, and how each heart was dated. It also explained how today’s heart was missing from jar, and how that heart represented his heart which he was ready to give to her for the rest of his life. Cami flipped through the cards, faster and faster with her eyes watering anxious to get see what the very last card said. As she neared the last card Tarik got out the ring and got on his knee as she read the final card which asked “Will you marry me?” When she looked up he had the ring in the ring box with the paper heart with the date on it tied to the ring with a small string.

Her Reaction: Speechless and in tears Cami Jumped over and grabbed Tarik around the neck the tightest she had ever and said “Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes!!!” She wouldn’t let go and wouldn’t stop saying yes, and it made him the happiest man in the whole world. Cami was sobbing and kept asking him if this was real life, not believing that her time had finally arrived. They hugged and kissed and danced together in pure bliss as time stood still for the perfect moment.

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Tarik got emotional and his eyes started to tear up as well. After grabbing the tissues for their tears of joy, Tarik revealed to Cami that he had recorded the gift exchange/proposal in secret so they could relive the moment forever. She then told him that she always wanted the proposal recorded, and he joked that he was glad he decided to make a point to record it! They called their families and told them the good news.

Photographer:  Landon Hendrick