James & Reina

Watercolor Highlight

James Clayton Abbott


Reina Carrillo Diaz

September 17, 2023

Palos Park, IL

James & Reina Engagement Video on February 7, 2023

His Love Story

It was a warm summer evening, just south of Chicago. Friends and I had convened at a local establishment to watch the UFC fights. The main event on the fight card of the night was McGregor vs Poirier, though the story of the evening would ultimately end up being Abbott vs Diaz. Shortly after the fights had concluded, friends and I made our way up to Hollstein’s, a local bar situated in downtown Tinley Park. Just as I was about to call it a night, I caught the radiant eyes of a beautiful señorita staring my way. Casual flirtatious glances would evolve into intense lustful eye locking. My friend who had ridden with me that evening was now wanting to leave, and frankly I did as well. Though every time I would attempt to go, I would repeatedly hear a voice in my head saying, “If you leave here tonight without talking to her, you will live to regret it for the rest of your life!” It was sort of surreal and a moment like I had never quite experienced before. After what seemed to be hours of relentless internal deliberation, though it was merely minutes. I decided to approach her just as another man was attempting to throw his hat into the ring. I came around her left as the helpless soul was attempting to spit his best game from her right. As if she had intuitively sensed my presence, she sharply turned in my direction as I leaned in and proceeded to introduce myself. After a brief but inquisitive exchange of words, I handed her my phone and instructed her to enter her phone number. We began talking, texting and dating for 3 months before becoming “official”. Just two weeks into our relationship, we would find ourselves facing life altering situations and decisions that were foreign to both her and I. I had fallen violently ill which would subsequently lead to a pancreatic cancer diagnosis. Between said cancer diagnosis (twice now), multiple housing moves, divorce, real estate market volatility (my career) and family blending, our first two years together have been filled with numerous trials that could have either split us apart or brought us closer together. With God’s grace and blessing we have chosen to do the latter. Reina is strong, quick-witted, intelligent, funny and unpredictable. Though, there is a special place deep within her soul, where you’ll find the trait of hers that I admire the most. You see, I can’t quite explain it to you, or what it is, why it is, or how, it just IS! If you’ve met her or are fortunate enough to be called family or a friend, then you know! We’ve laughed frequently about it, and I tell her quite often, she is something else! The intentionality of my statement could not come from a place of more love, respect, admiration and gratitude than that which I have for Reina, or as her name so eloquently translates to in English, my Queen! Baby, you and I are set to embark on the next chapter of our lives together. I am reminded of a bible verse that resonates with me. “Therefore, what God has joined together, let no man separate.” Mark 10:9. We have talked from the jump about what our goals, aspirations and individual visions are for each of our lives. Throughout every storm we’ve faced in our relatively short time spent together on this earth, we continue to sail through it and come out the other side stronger than before. I value the respect, love, loyalty and commitment you continue to bring and show towards God, yourself, myself as well as our relationship. We only get one shot at navigating through this life, and there is zero doubt as to who I want as my co-pilot…nobody but you!

Her Love Story

On July 20, 2017, I wrote a note to myself about the man that I wanted to be with. Not knowing who you were, what you looked like, not knowing your name, I prayed for you. I knew that by age forty, I wanted to be married or in a serious relationship that was going to lead to marriage. God works in mysterious ways because in July 2021 at age forty, I met the man I both wrote about and had prayed for. Our love story started on a summer night in July 2021. As the night went on, we exchanged glances and were strangers that night, wondering in the night, what were the chances that we’d be sharing love before the night was through? Something in our eyes was so inviting. Something in our smiles was so exciting. Something in our hearts told us we must be together. Little did we know, love was just a glance away. Ever since that night we’ve been together. Lovers at first sight in love forever. On November 21, 2021, I was in the hospital with you after just knowing you four months. It was there that I knew you were the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. We both have dreams of having a loving healthy relationship and we have been creating it since day one. I never thought I would meet a man like you. I love everything about you; your honesty, your faith in God, your vulnerability, your openness towards your life story and your braveness to open up to me. I love that you are an old fashioned type of man. I love your attention to detail.

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