This is our story. This is our life.
Once upon a time in a very small town a boy met a girl and he asked her if she’d like to go to the high school prom with him. Much to his delight, she said yes. The magical night was December 17, 1998.
Devin says he pursued Heather because of her amazing smile, which he first recognized while they were on a Provincials cross-country running trip. Slightly devious, Devin orchestrated a swap with Heather’s original math tutor, David Anderson, so that he could get to know her better. Heather says that she thought Devin was weird because he wore nail polish but gave him a shot because he was older and had a car. In his defense, Devin claims that the nail polish was for drama class and basketball (team colours…sure sure) and all the guys were doing it. Despite his flamboyant fingernails that night, after the prom, Heather and Devin kissed for the very first time. Here begins our story of life, love, laughter, trial, sacrifice and success.
After graduating from high school Devin moved to Alberta to start working in the oilfields. And why not right? Unmarried guy, lots of mullah to be had..living the high life, right? Actually with his first paycheck, Devin wanted to buy Heather a ring. So he returned to the small town where our two adventurers grew up and, with his best friend Jon Muller by his side, Devin found the perfect ring for Heather. Success!
There was only one small tiny problem. Devin’s first paycheck hadn’t been processed – no money meant no ring! Thank goodness for faithful friends who are secretly superheros in disguise. Jon ended up buying Heather’s future wedding ring. Mission: Accomplished.
“Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
After a couple of years in Alberta, it was Heather’s turn to take the lead by applying to the Criminal Justice Program at Camosun College in Victoria, BC. With her bags packed and one foot out the door, Heather gave Devin an ultimatum: the oilrigs or her and an education. While giving both options serious consideration, Devin broke his leg on the job. Or, at least that’s what the Doctor said. Convenient, right? With his leg in a cast and unable to work, Devin decided to follow Heather and somewhat serendipitously signed up for the exact same program she had enrolled in. A week later and after they had moved, Devin’s cast was removed with the news “no break.” Even until today, Devin still wonders how much Heather paid the Doctor to help push him in the right direction.
On July 31, 2004 (shortly after their first year at Camosun), Devin asked Heather if she was ready to spend the rest of her life with him. In case there was any doubt, she said yes. In the event that Heather ever recants her decision, however, she loosely recalls being aided by one bottle of liquid courage that she and her bridesmaids, Mandy Chutskoff and Gabby Peppard, consumed before walking down the aisle. Devin, on the other hand, was stone cold sober and has no excuses.
By year two, their hard work getting educated paid off and they graduated numbers two and three in their class. Devin, always aspiring to be a gentleman, let Heather take the higher seat. (<–Shameless plug)
While they weren’t exactly mutants, Devin and Heather enrolled next in Xavier’s School for the Gifted, better known as Royal Roads University, to complete year’s three and four of their undergraduate degree in twelve months. Replacing their blood with Tim Horton’s coffee, Devin and Heather focused one hundred percent on their studies, spending many all-nighters in the infamous Annex computer room, usually with Adam Corely and Katrine Bertrand. Their hard work and determination paid off and they graduated with A+ averages.
For their next adventure, Devin and Heather decided to drive across the country to New Brunswick to begin law school. For Heather, Fredericton was an amazing experience. She excelled on the Varsity Cross-Country Running team, won academic awards hand of over fist and learned how to play the harmonica. For Devin, Fredericton was rather miserable. He remembers three years of freezing cold, the house flooding, and tearing his ACL playing inter-mural basketball. Oh the joys of love!
Gluttons for academic punishment, Devin and Heather decided to pursue graduate degrees after law school. On the advice of a great person and mentor, the late Professor Don Fleming, Heather and Devin enrolled in Western University’s LLM Program. Little did they know that moving to London, Ontario would change their lives completely; for it was there that they would be introduced to someone that would have a profound impact on their mental health and future careers. Her name is Stella, their first Froston (French Bulldog/Boston Terrier). Her love and adoration is only comparable to her half-sister’s, Georgia, who joined the Bray pack a year later. Devin and Heather would like to thank Todd and Tanya Grierson-Weiler for encouraging them to add Stella and Georgia to their family.
“You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams.”
― Dr. Seuss
Kidding aside, meeting Todd and Tanya has also had a profound impact on the lives of Devin and Heather. Todd particularly has taken Devin and Heather under his wing and has played an instrumental role in helping them advance their legal careers by encouraging them to pursue goals even above their own expectations. Devin explains that after arriving in Ontario, incredible things started happening. It was as if someone pushed a fast-forward button on success. They completed their LLMs, became Ontario lawyers, won writing competitions, got published, won scholarships and got into an amazing doctoral program at the University of Arizona. To top it off, Todd and Tanya basically treat Heather as the adopted daughter they never had and Devin as the perfect straight man.
Leaving for Arizona was a difficult decision but a warmly welcomed change. Deciduous forests and large bodies of water were traded in for saguaros and vast deserts. Javalinas and gila monsters replaced deer and bears. Heather described her time in Arizona like living in one of Dr. Seuss’s books. Devin enjoyed himself so much that he wants to become a snowbird one day. Not only was the climate amazing but Devin and Heather met some awesome people in Tucson, including three of the best pet sitters ever, Irina Plvts, Kevin Verbelen and Lulu Kas.
During her 2013 final exams, Heather got the bright idea to apply for a research fellowship in Germany. Not only did Heather pull off a perfect 4.0 GPA at Arizona but also beat out hundreds of applicants to win the first position at the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law on the Lex Mercatoria Publica Project studying the history of international arbitration. To celebrate, Heather spent three weeks in Paris, France at an Arbitration Academy. Devin went to London (Ontario) and finally got his knee repaired.
For their next adventure, Devin and Heather are rejoining forces in Heidelberg, Germany. Both will be working at the Max Planck Institute and looking to complete their doctoral degrees; but, more importantly, they will be adding one more, a baby boy, to the growing Bray pack.