The story of how Vincent met Andrea, and their whirlwind of experiences in the first week that they met, is incredible in its own right.
This page relates Andrea Tolman’s side of the story about the first week that she met Vincent.
Sunday, April 6, 2003
It was the day of my 20th birthday. I was recovering from the breakup of a long-term relationship and needed a change in a big way. I had moved from Virginia back to Utah to return to my roots, but I still felt lost and didn’t know what my next steps should be.
As I reflected on what I should do, an idea came to me. I would write down everything that I wanted in a husband. Perhaps, if I found such a man, I would have found someone I could marry. I wrote down several serious things, then I kept writing. My list started to get ridiculous: he had to be left handed, with blue eyes and curly hair. He also had to be a good cook who knows how to do his own laundry and ironing.
Tuesday, April 15
That morning I had cut 15 inches off my hair to donate to charity. I was doing everything I could to create a new and different life for myself. I was looking forward to getting my mind off of my troubles by spending the evening with Leslee and some of her friends. I was at her house when her phone rang that afternoon.
“Hello?” Leslee answered. “Vinney! How have you been?” She seemed excited by the call. “Great. If you want, you can come over to my house at about seven o’clock and hang out. A bunch of us will be there already. I look forward to seeing you again!”
She ended the call and I asked, “Who was that?”
“An old friend, Vinney. Maybe you know him?”
“I’ve heard that name before, but I don’t remember ever meeting him.”
I had no idea how much my life was about to change.
I remember checking my watch at 6:55 pm. I was at Leslee’s house in their upstairs game room, preparing refreshments for the guests that would be arriving shortly. Leslee was driving to pick up some friends and I could hear Leslee’s brother and his friends engrossed in an intense computer game downstairs in a room near the front door.
I heard a knock at the front door, but I assumed Leslee’s brother would answer it. After a second knock I yelled, “Is anyone going to answer that?”
No one acknowledged me, then I heard another knock, louder and more insistent. I rushed down the stairs, pausing at the door long enough to say, “You’re all right next to the door! You really can’t hear it?” It was as if none of them could hear anything outside of the room that they were in.
Annoyed, I turned and opened the door. Standing there was a tall man with dark, thick, curly hair, blue eyes and an athletic build.
Something about him sent my feelings into another dimension. It wasn’t like love at first sight — I didn’t feel an immediate attraction to him — but I did feel an energy, as if our souls were rejoicing at meeting each other for the first time. The energy rooted me in place and surged through me, like a million little lightning bolts energizing every cell in me. I had never felt anything like that before and I was frozen, staring at him but not really seeing, focused on the strange sensations tumbling inside of me. I could tell he felt something too. We stood there, speechless, for at least a full minute.
He broke the silence first and said, “Can I come in?”
His words snapped me back to reality.
“Yes, of course,” I said. I forced a laugh, trying to brush off my paralysis. “We were just going to play pool upstairs. Do you want to play?”
“Sure. I’d like that,” he said.
We went upstairs, played pool, and talked about where we had lived, what we did for work, and our hobbies.
When it was time to go to the bowling alley, I rode with Leslee while Vinney drove his own car. Leslee assigned us in pairs, and I was in a different lane than Vinney. I knew that Vinney was watching me, but I didn’t engage with him. I still felt the sting of the relationship I had just left, and was not looking for a romantic relationship. I was determined that this night was just to have fun.
After my team finished their second game, we were ready to return to Leslee’s house and waited for the other teams to finish. I saw that Vinney wanted to get my attention, but I went to the arcade room and started a game on the pinball machine to avoid him.
He found me anyway and said, “I love pinball! I used to play all the time when I was a kid.”
“Me, too,” I said. “It was a good pastime.”
“It was great meeting you tonight. Can I call you sometime?”
And there it was — the part that I had been avoiding.
I played it cool and said, “Why don’t you give me your number, and maybe I’ll call you.”
He handed me his number then headed out the door.
Wednesday, April 16
Leslee invited me to go with her to Vinney’s house to watch American Idol. Soon after we arrived, Leslee said that she had to pick up something from work, but would only be gone for half an hour.
Vinney and I talked about a wide range of subjects. I was engaged in the conversation the entire time. Vinney did mention his near-death experience, but he didn’t go into any details. His experience was still very fresh and he hadn’t told anyone else but his sister Tami. I completely believed everything he told me about having a guide who taught him about God and heaven. Deep in my spirit, I knew that what he was saying was true.
My ego eventually barged in, though, and I said “I believe you, but you know at some point I’m going to need to see some kind of proof, right? No one is brain dead, in a coma for three days, and just comes out of it with just a little mark from a tracheotomy and no repercussions.” (He did eventually show me the hospital bill charging him for the ambulance ride, the tracheotomy and other procedures, and for being on life support for three days.)
After three hours had passed, I called Leslee. She didn’t answer, but called me back after another 15 minutes and said she was on her way back. She invited us to join her and some other friends to watch a movie at her house. When we arrived, we discovered that they were planning to watch a horror movie. We watched the beginning, but we both realized that the energy didn’t match the energy of the conversation we had been having, so we moved to another room in the house and resumed our conversation.
After the movie was over and our friends started going home, my mom picked me up. As soon as I got home, I found my younger sister, Chelsie, asleep in her bed, and woke her up. I had to tell her about this incredible guy I had met. He was so interesting, and I had the most wonderful day with him, just talking.
Chelsie asked, “Would you marry him?”
“What? No, of course not. I’m not even dating him.”
“Then why would you wake me up just to tell me that?”
“I don’t know. I guess… to tell you… that he would be a cool best friend, or something.”
Thursday, April 17
Leslee had just bought a brand new black 2003 Volkswagen Beetle and wanted to show it off. We drove it to Vinney’s house and took him on a ride around the block. As we were chatting after the drive, Leslee got a call from a friend.
“You guys keep talking,” she said. “I’ll be back soon. I just want to go show them the car.”
More than an hour later, I got a call from Leslee.
“Sorry,” she said. “I forgot I had to go to work and had to leave quickly. To make it up to you both for ditching you, come by the restaurant and lunch will be on me.”
We took her up on her offer and Vinney drove us to the Old Spaghetti Factory where Leslee worked. She met us at the door and had the hostess find us a seat in the area where she waited tables. Vinney and I were deep in conversation, but we did notice several people would glance at us and smile.
A waitress brought out our drinks and appetizers. As she placed them on the table, she said, “I love seeing happy married couples. How long have you two been married?”
Vinney and I looked at each other. I said, “We actually just met.”
“Really?” she said. “I could have sworn you two were married.”
We finished our lunch and were preparing to leave. Leslee stopped by to see us off and asked, “Hey, how do you two feel about going on a double date tonight?”
“No,” I quickly replied. “I’m good.”
“Please,” she said. “I really want to go out with this guy. Vinney knows him already, and I’d be more comfortable with both of you there. It would be a huge favor.”
“Fine,” I relented. “I’ll go, but only as a favor.” I really wasn’t ready to start dating again.
“Yeah, same,” Vinney said. I found out later that he was outwardly trying to seem disinterested. Inwardly, however, he was amazed at how everything had worked out for us to go on a date without him even asking me, because he knew I would say no.
“Great,” Leslee said. “We’ll meet for mini golf at Trafalga.”
As Vinney drove me home after lunch, I said, “You know this isn’t an official date, right? I’ll pay my own way tonight.”
“Sure,” Vinney said. “Whatever you’d like.”
I was so determined that it not be “a date” that I arrived early and bought by own ticket before anyone else showed up. After Vinney arrived, I kept trying to put up a wall between us, but Vinney was able to take the wall down every time. I tried to make him lose interest by acting silly, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. My silliness fed his silliness, and before long we were goofing around, laughing and playing.
We were in the middle of a round of giggles when an employee startled us. She said, “Oh, you two are so cute together. How long have you been married?”
Our giggles stopped and we looked at each other, embarrassed. “Oh, we aren’t married,” Vinney said. “We just met this week.”
Shocked, she replied, “Oh, sorry. You just seemed like you were married. Well, you do make a really great couple.”
As the evening went on, I grew so fond of Vinney that I forgot about the barriers I had been building and let guard down. By the time we were finished, it was the best “not a date” I have ever been on.
Friday, April 18
Vinney’s construction job started at 5:00 AM and he would often be finished by noon. That left him time to do handyman work such as patching drywall, laying tile, or redoing a floor. He asked me if I wanted to help him with some of the repairs he was scheduled to do that day. Ever since I was a child, I had helped my dad do repairs around the house and I loved being a helping hand, so I readily accepted the offer.
I helped him repair a light fixture, then we did some maintenance under a kitchen sink. It ended up being a long day, and it was dark by the time we were done working. I wasn’t ready to go home yet, so we grabbed a quick bite to eat and talked about what to do next.
“It’s a clear night,” I said. “Let’s go look at the stars.” We drove to the parking lot of the Mount Timpanogos Temple in American Fork, Utah, which sits on a hill overlooking the valley.
It was a beautiful sight with the city lights stretching across the valley floor and the canopy of bright stars overhead. We talked about the future, about spiritual things, and about how everyone kept asking us if we were married. As we talked about that last subject, two shooting stars arced across the sky as if flying in formation. I had never seen anything like it before. A chilling sensation rushed through me and I wondered if it meant something.
Saturday, April 19
Before I moved to Virginia, a common family activity was to feed the ducks at Utah Lake. When I suggested it to my family, those who were available were eager to go. I also wanted to share the experience with my friends. I called Leslee, but she was unavailable. I felt that I should invite Vinney, but it was the first time that I had reached out to him and I felt a little awkward – until I reminded myself that we were already good friends.
The day was uneventful, with two exceptions. First, Vinney invited me to join him at a family gathering at their cabin the next day. That felt like a new development in our relationship. Second, I became more aware of my growing attraction to Vinney, and I started piecing together the experiences we had shared in our short time together: repeatedly being asked how long we’ve been married, the two shooting stars crossing the sky in unison, and most of all how comfortable and at peace I felt when I was with him.
Those thoughts were on my mind when I knelt down to pray that night before going to bed. I wasn’t really thinking about what I was doing. I was just going through my nightly routine, and all I could think about was Vinney. He was on my mind all the time now.
“We’ve only known each other for a week,” I thought. “But, that moment when we first met, the shooting stars, multiple people asking us if we were married. Are these signs? If they are, what do they mean?”
I was ready to settle into bed, but felt an urgent need to pray and ask God why all these things were happening.
I knelt at the side of my bed and started with my usual, “Dear Heavenly Father, I thank thee for this day and my protection throughout the day. Thank you for my family, please bless each of them, and bless my new friend Vinney, and am I supposed to marry him…”
I jumped to my feet, not even realizing where those words came from, but an overwhelming feeling of euphoria started in my heart and flowed throughout my being. The powerful feeling vibrated and burned intensely in my soul. Then, just as suddenly as it hit me, it went away.
I didn’t understand how that happened. I didn’t even know who said those words. It was as if someone else said them for me. What I intended to ask was what the signs meant, not if I should marry Vinney. Those words came out of my mouth before I even knew what I was saying.
I took a moment to process what had just happened. Then I kneeled down beside my bed again and started my prayer over.
“Dear Heavenly Father, please help me have a good night’s sleep, and bless my family and friends. Please bless my day tomorrow while I meet Vinney’s parents and am I supposed to marry Vinney…”
Again, the words came out, and the feeling radiated inside of me so strongly that I jumped up and put my hand on my chest to feel it.
“What?” I said out loud. “Are you serious? I’ve only known him for a week!”
But I couldn’t deny the feeling I experienced. So, I knelt down one more time. This time, I was ready, though. I knelt down and prayed with the purpose of asking the right question.
“Heavenly Father, do you want me to marry Vinney?”
This time the feeling wasn’t as overwhelming as before, but a peaceful warmth poured over me. It was my third and final confirmation that I should marry Vinney, and I had God’s blessing. God had arranged this whole thing in the first place. From that first moment we connected on the doorstep until now. It had all happened so fast, but I felt really good knowing that God was the one in charge.
So, I left it in God’s hands and crawled into bed and went to sleep.
Sunday, April 20
On the drive to the cabin, I was preoccupied with my prayer the night before when he broke the silence with his question, “Did you happen to pray about something important last night?”
I was not ready to tell him about the answer I had received, so I deflected the question by saying, “Yes. Did you?”
“I prayed about something pretty important,” he said. “I asked three times just to be sure.”
He had my complete attention. “What did you pray about?” I asked.
He took a deep breath, then said, “I prayed to know if we’re supposed to get married.”
I was dumbfounded. That was the last thing I thought he was going to say. At the same time, part of me knew that he would say that. I could not believe this conversation was really happening. “What was your answer?” I asked.
“That we’re supposed to get married.”
So, there it was. We had both asked the same question on the same night. And we had both received the same answer. Now I had a lot more to think about before we got to the cabin. Even with all that had happened, I still wasn’t quite ready to commit. I decided that my decision would hinge on my relationship with Vinney’s mom. If she and I got along well, then I would feel fully comfortable with the decision.
We arrived at the cabin, which was nothing like what I had envisioned it to be. I expected a large log cabin, but it was actually a small, old, and cute little white cottage. It was over 100 years old and was maybe 900 square feet. The moment my feet touched the grass, I had a feeling of pure joy.
Vinney’s mom came out to greet us. My first impression was all I needed. She wrapped her arms around me and said she couldn’t wait to hug me. She was the warmest and absolutely nicest person I had ever met. I felt as if my soul had known her my whole life, but I couldn’t recall from where. She felt so familiar to me, like a really good friend I had not seen in years. I knew that this was my confirmation. My decision was made: I would marry Vinney.
While we were at the cabin, Vinney’s brother, Tyler, had an announcement. He and his girlfriend, Kate, were there with us and announced that they were engaged to be married. Tyler had asked her earlier that day. I congratulated them and asked if they had set a date yet.
“We’re planning on the beginning of August,” Tyler said. “Then my relatives who live out of town will be able to attend.”
I had a brother who was on a two-year mission for my church, and he would be returning shortly before August. I counted it as yet another sign from God. I turned to Vinney and whispered, “Well, then, Vinney Tolman. I guess that is when we will be married, too.”