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     ever after soft rock

 
“We rose for a split second of time
Captured in a kiss and a handclasp
Framed in the lightning of eternity
Suspended above time, for a split second of forever…”

Emotion. Fate. A love that remained steadfast through the years – one that time and distance could not weaken. And today, it’s a love that shines through in song. This is the story of Bonnie and Tom.

     And this is the story of ever after soft rock...

 
Dateline: June, 1977. Tom and Bonnie were sitting in Bonnie’s backyard in Grand Rapids, Michigan, watching a garden-variety summer storm off in the distance. That experience taught them that things aren’t always as they seem. Moments later, despite the timing between the flashes of lightning and the claps of thunder, Bonnie and Tom were caught off-guard by a bright blue streak coming straight at them. Both can recall it vividly. “It’s reminiscent of a car accident. You have time to think, ‘here it comes,’ but there’s absolutely nothing you can do about it,” Bonnie said. “We watched the bolt of lightning streak in a blaze of blue flame across the lawn straight for us. When it hit, Tom and I were holding hands and looking into each other’s eyes. And while our hair was literally standing on end, there was a peaceful calm about it.” Adds Tom: “For a second, time stopped and everything was crystal clear. It felt like we were floating in the clearest water you can imagine – like we were completely transparent. I have still, to this day, never felt such clarity of purpose in my life as I did that moment.”

Although they were just 17 years old, they knew that their souls were bonded forever. But what they didn’t realize is music would be the tie that eventually brought them back together.

     Looking back...

 
Even in childhood, music and poetry took center stage for both Bonnie and Tom. For Bonnie, the love of music emerged in third grade, when she was given a singing part in a Christmas play. To this day, she says, she remembers every word to the song. At 12, she began merging poetry with her musical passion. She also became proficient with the guitar, and at 14, made her first professional recording. Two years later, she was asked to write and perform the theme song for a World Hunger fundraiser in Grand Rapids – a fundraiser that would change her life.

As for Tom, the son of extraordinarily musical parents, it was only natural for him to start playing drums at age 7, and was playing actively with kids and adults by age 9. He, too, was 12 when he began writing poetry. By 15, Tom was writing his own songs and playing guitar, and the next year made his first professional recording. In 1977, his band was invited to perform at that same World Hunger fundraiser.

And that’s how it all began.

     Growing together, moving apart...

 
Tom and Bonnie spent the summer of 1977 writing music and singing together, sometimes performing for charities, other times for the sheer joy of making music. Along with their music styles, their love for each other grew, and at the end of that summer Tom wrote a song for Bonnie, asking her to marry him. But while both of them knew they were meant to be together, they also knew age wasn’t on their sides. So, they tearfully went their separate ways. But while they weren’t together – nor were they even corresponding – their lives took strangely similar paths.

While Tom moved to Ohio to begin a career in food service management, he continued to write and perform his music. He performed in theatre groups and a couple of bands over the next several years. That experience allowed him to refine his skills on a variety of instruments, along with becoming a talented vocalist. In the meantime, Bonnie embarked on a career in telecommunications. She continued to write and perform with a variety of bands, and wrote a song that was adopted as the theme for a charity organization’s fundraising efforts. The highlight was when the song was picked up by radio stations across the country – and even hit the country charts in Texas. Though her first love remained vocals, Bonnie added additional instruments to her repertoire.

Bonnie and Tom’s personal lives also mirrored each other. They both married and divorced, and had two children each; Bonnie’s oldest son and Tom’s youngest son even share a birthday. And while their paths never crossed over the years, they never stopped thinking about each other – and what could have been. But that all changed in 1996.

     A twist of fate...

 
Call it a challenge from a persistent suitor. Bonnie explains - “A friend of mine kept asking me out, but I kept turning him down – I told him he just was not the man for me. I knew exactly what I wanted. He asked me to tell him just what traits I was looking for, and thinking about it, I described Tom. He asked me where I got those thoughts from and I explained they were the traits of my high school sweetheart, Tom. At that point, my friend challenged me to look Tom up again, because I was certainly living in an illusion of the past. He was certain I would find even Tom had changed, and it would give him a chance. I found Tom, and learned he was not only all the things I remembered, but more. Although the outcome was probably not what my friend had expected, it was the best advice anyone had ever given me!”

Bonnie started by contacting an old high school friend with whom she had lost touch over the years. That was the only call she’d have to make, as her old friend’s husband, was Tom’s business partner. The partner’s wife talked to Tom and passed on the information where he could reach Bonnie – if and when he wanted to speak with her again. Tom did remember her – and did make that call. They arranged to meet, not having seen each other for almost 18 years.

“When Bonnie walked in, I was instantly overwhelmed by the many feelings that I remembered from so many years before – it felt like everything was supposed to be. Kind of odd for someone you hadn’t seen for so long,” said Tom. “All of the things that had been buried for so long came back in a split-second. What a rush!”

Bonnie’s feelings were quite similar. “Even though we looked very different, every single feeling I ever had for him came flooding back,” she said. “Something clicked in my heart – and I knew the man who had sent me on this quest had lost his gamble because Tom was still the man for me. Everything was right with the world!”

Children, parents and friends were extremely supportive of the rekindled relationship. And music continued to be a vital part of their relationship. Ironically, the first musical gig they played together was (again) a fundraiser – this one to send underprivileged children to camp.
 

     Together again – happily ever after...

 

Finally, almost 20 years exactly from the day they met, Bonnie and Tom were married in a storybook ceremony. Surrounded by family and friends, they recited the vows and emotions they had kept within for so many years. And music provided the memorable moment of the evening, as friends they had performed with through the years joined them to play one set at the reception – which was received with a standing ovation. People said it was “the most interesting wedding they had ever been to!”
 
Today, Bonnie and Tom continue to collaborate, write and perform their music together. “While our own material is good – when we’re working together, something magical happens,” Tom said. “She and I push each other into new musical areas, and we couldn’t be happier with the results.” They are currently living happily ever after in Grand Rapids, with 3 cats, a dog, a variety of children at any given time, a mother/mother-in-law, and, of course, a music studio.

     And they still love a good summer storm...


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