Their love grew after mutual loss

JUST MARRIED

Christine Bender And Craig Carlson

October 07, 2001|By Sandy Alexander | Sandy Alexander,Sun Staff

Christine Bender and Craig Carlson's love story reaches beyond the romance they celebrated at their recent wedding. Their story wouldn't be possible without the love of a spouse and friend, and the love of their family.

Craig's late wife, Tina, "was one of my dearest friends in the world," says Christine, who spent time at the Carlson home in Hunt Valley helping Tina as she battled cancer. As the illness grew worse, Christine left her job teaching at a maternity home for teen-agers to stay with the family full time. She took care of the home and the Carlsons' three children, including providing home schooling.

Craig and Christine's relationship grew after Tina died in November. They spent time together talking and supporting each other as Christine continued to help and teach the children. In time, the couple found they had a lot in common and enjoyed each other's company.

"I think that we are amazingly alike," says Craig, 38, a home builder. "We like the same things. We like the peacefulness of things."

Christine, 30, says Craig's "heart is incredible, giving and generous," and she's impressed by his commitment to his family.

They both enjoy the outdoors and are learning to scuba dive. They like to go out to dinner, take walks and spend time with the children, ages 8, 12 and 13.

One of their strongest bonds is their religious faith. When Christine first went to help Tina, she says, "I really prayed a lot about where God wanted me to be." She had always wanted a husband and family, but when that didn't happen, she decided God must have other plans for her.

She considered becoming a nun after her time helping the Carlson family, but as her relationship with Craig became serious, they both prayed for guidance.

"We both wanted what God wanted," Craig says.

They also knew that Tina wanted Craig to marry again when he found the right person. "She wanted [her family's] lives to be able to go on and have peace and happiness," says Christine.

In June, after returning to Christine's home in Parkville from a dinner out, Craig proposed while Christine's family hid in the next room waiting to celebrate.

The Carlson children, Nicole, 13, Brenden, 12, and Faith, 8, were excited about the wedding, doing their parts as bridesmaid, best man and flower girl. The Catholic ceremony was held Sept. 15 at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel at Charlestown Retirement Community in Catonsville. In a nod to the parallels between her story and the governess who finds love in The Sound of Music, Christine chose the musical's wedding theme as recessional music.

As guests left the chapel for a reception nearby on the Charlestown campus, doves were released into the air, as a gift from Christine's parents.

The couple has seen that the future is hard to predict, but they say they will face it together with the people they love.

"We are open to wherever God wants to take us," says Craig.

For details on submitting wedding and engagement announcements to The Sun, and to order wedding forms, please call Sundial at 410-783-1800 and enter code 6240.

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