Fearless and fearful, then and now, your love has made me feel it all

To: Sabrina Cruz

From: Bobby Hornak (As told to Lauren Brill)

Thursday (1/28) at 7:30 pm ET a plane crash survivor and cancer survivor will chat with us about why he is so lucky

Details

Dear Sabrina,

It’s been more than 20 years since I met you. Yet, I still have the same feelings I did when I was a kid, including the fact that you somehow make me fearless and scared at the same time.

We met when I transferred to Connor School at 11 years old.

On my first day of school, I saw you and thought, “Oh, who is that?”

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Bobby said he noticed Sabrina the second he saw her when he was 11 years old.

Right away, we started hanging out all the time: riding our bikes, going to the town pool and spending time at each other’s houses.

One day we went to the ball field in our town and there was an old train bridge with holes in it. It literally had holes in it, making it very dangerous. We both stood at the edge of this bridge and you told me if I crossed it and made it back to you, you would kiss me.

All of a sudden, I had no fear. I walked across that bridge and when I got to the other side, I got a little peck. That was our very first kiss.

While you made me brave, at times, you also made me nervous. When we graduated elementary school, I told my dad I needed to get the girl of my dreams a gift, but I didn’t know what to buy.  Ultimately, I walked into school with a dozen roses and a wrapped up Biggie Smalls CD. I was so scared that you wouldn’t like the gifts and you would reject them, but you loved them both.

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Bobby bought Sabrina flowers and a Biggie Smalls DC for their graduation from elementary school.

One time you even bought me a gift, a gold chain with a Nike symbol. Sabrina, I wore it with so much pride.

Unfortunately, it was not all good times for us. Even as kids, we went through struggles together. One day I rode my brand new bike to your house and I pulled it inside because it was raining. Then, your roof got struck by lightning and caught on fire. We all ran outside and I just held you. Family pictures stored in your attic burned. You were so sad and I kept holding you. Your family had to move to a nearby hotel while they fixed your house. I visited you often because I wanted to make sure you, your mom and your sister were OK.

Then, in middle school, your grandmother got sick. You, your family picked up and moved to Puerto Rico, where your grandmother lived, almost instantly.

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I was devastated.

You were my best friend. You were my girlfriend.

Even back then, you were bubbly and made people smile. I think that’s why, even as a child, I was so attracted to you. You were such a nice person. You didn’t have a mean bone in your body.

Bobby says at 11 years old, he was attracted to Sabrina’s kindness.

As a child, I always pictured myself being with you. We had this natural chemistry. But when you moved, I didn’t see you for years and I went on with my life: playing sports, dating other girls and even having two children with another woman.

Even though we didn’t see each other or speak much, I thought about you all the time. You were such a big part of my childhood.

Four years ago, in our early 30s, I was thinking about you and decided to call you to say “Happy Birthday.”

By that time, you were living back in New York. My brother passed away a month prior and I was going through a tough time in my life. Maybe subconsciously, I wanted to feel the kindness and love you showed me as a kid.

After my little sister, who stayed in touch with you, told you the details for my brother’s funeral, you took a day off of work to support my family. I had no idea that you would be there, but as soon as I saw you, despite being so sad about my brother’s death, I felt that spark again instantly.

It wasn’t until two months later you decided to go on a date with me. I think you were apprehensive because so many years had gone by and you didn’t know if we were still compatible. You weren’t sure if our relationship was going to go anywhere. But our date was beautiful. I didn’t want it to end. Before we knew it, we were seeing each other every single day.

Even back then, you were bubbly and made people smile. I think that’s why even as a child I was so attracted to you. You were such a nice person.

Eventually, you got pregnant with our baby girl, Isabela. I was so excited. We had already loosely talked about getting married and having children, so when it came a little earlier than expected, I wasted no time, getting down on one knee and asking you to spend the rest of your life with me.

Sabrina, having you back in my life these last few years has made me not only believe in soul mates, but it has made me realize that you are mine. You balance me. You pick up where I lack and vice versa.

Your drive and your ambition are different.  After graduating at the top of your class at New York University, you chose to be a teacher in the Bronx, where some kids are not so fortunate. You bought your students clothes and food and nurtured them when you didn’t have to do so.

Bobby says Sabrina makes him a better person.

You worked your way up to an assistant principal and soon you will be a principal. I admire how committed you are to what you do – so much so that it has rubbed off on me.

When I found out you were expecting, I went back to trade school and became an electrician. These last four years, you have pushed me to be a better man and a better person.

You have embraced my older children and even helped me improve my relationship with them.

Like any two people that spend every day together, there are times when we get mad at each other. But even when I am angry at you, I still always want to be with you.

I would do anything for you, as I feel the same way about you now as I did when we were 11.

I am so very proud to go through life by your side. I still want to spend all my time with you. I still want to hold you and make sure you are always OK.

Sabrina, I now understand why I am scared of you and fearless with you. It’s because now and always, I truly love you.

What scares me is letting you down. And what makes me fearless is knowing that when you are happy, nothing can hurt me.

We may grow, but my love for you will never change.

I love you.

Happy Valentine’s Day and happy almost birthday,

Papa Bear
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