"Over about 35 cups of coffee, we talked there until 3 in the morning," Eric said.
"We had chemistry," said Carole.
The more she learned about him, the more she wanted to learn. "Eric is this renaissance man. He's a doctor and a lawyer. He has an MBA. He's an author and a pilot. He's done sculpting and art, and he plays the piano and guitar," she said.
Through many more dates and professional collaboration, their feelings and mutual admiration grew.
"She just did an amazing job keeping me in tow," Eric said of Carole's work with the hospital team. She "not only looks good, but is bright and has an MBA." Best of all was the amazing way he felt whenever they were together.
Spared in a last-minute deal, MCP has become the main campus of Drexel University College of Medicine.
For Eric and Carole, it was happily ever ... not yet.
Eric, who is now 66, was previously married, but the relationship ended in divorce. His fear of repeating that struck whenever marriage seemed the likely next step for him and Carole.
"I would either run away, or in some cases, create a situation in which she ran away," he said.
Carole, who is now 60, would delete his phone number from every phone, and swear they'd never talk again.
Invariably, they would.
Eric had never trusted anyone like he trusts Carole. He cherishes her advice. He occasionally dated others, but always compared them to her.
Carole dated more than he did, but he remained the person she wanted to share the big stuff with. He was also there if something in her house was broken, and when she had a legal issue or a really big spider.
Eventually, they'd get back together. Eventually, they'd split again.
They were off-again in August 2011 when Eric felt an earthquake at his Center City law office. He called to check on Carole.
Days later, Hurricane Irene left his Manayunk townhouse partly underwater. His Facebook post sounded so miserable that Carole called him: "I'm seeing somebody else, but if you need a place to stay for a day or two, I've got a guest room."
When Eric learned he couldn't go home for at least another week, Carole said he might as well stay.
For a time they led separate lives. But as weeks stretched past a month, their feelings surfaced. They began having dinner together, and talking for hours afterward.
Carole broke up with her boyfriend.
Three months after the flood, Eric could finally move back to his place. "The trouble was, I wasn't sure I wanted to."
Carole told Eric this was his last chance. With her OK, he returned to his apartment for a weekend of thinking. After one night, he asked to move back to the Bala Cynwyd home they still share.
How does forever sound?
In late fall 2011, Carole and Eric decided to marry. Considering their history, Carole made a proposal deadline: her late-June birthday.
Winter and spring came and went. Then when Carole returned from the gym one June 2012 afternoon, Eric was waiting at the door.
"Sit down on the step for a second," he said.
As he spoke about the long history of their relationship, Eric could tell that Carole thought this was, again, the part where he'd say they had to break up.
She gave him the universal "wrap it up" signal.
He sat on the step below her. "I love you and I want you to be my wife."
She sat perfectly still for a few seconds, making sure she had really heard that. Then she kissed him.
A few days later on her birthday, they walked into Bucci Jewelers and jeweler Joe placed several rings on the counter. Carole picked one up and cried.
"Do you love it?" Eric asked.
"Yes," she said.
It was so them
The day of the engagement, Carole posted on Facebook: "Believe in your dreams, they can come true, at any age or any stage of life." Dreams coming true was the wedding theme.
Carole's brotherlike friend Michael walked her down the aisle at Evviva to "Never Never Land" from Peter Pan with the line, "I have a place where dreams are born."
Eric's sons, Brett and Matthew, were best men. Granddaughter Everly was flower girl.
In a toast, Carole told their 85 guests to never give up on dreams, because her dream of marrying her best friend and the love of her life had finally come true.
Eric said he had married the love he'd been searching for his whole life. "What could you love more than someone whose love is so great for you they will be there for you even when you do the wrong thing?"
Carole took a few minutes to absorb the joy she woke with on her wedding day. "I want to be able to remember always how special it was," she said. She asked both God and her late mother to help her have the wisdom, compassion, forgiveness, and humor to keep her marriage strong for life.
After the couple's first dance, Eric's sons told him they'd never seen him happier. He looked at them and their families, and his new bride. "It was at that moment it hit me that I had everything I had ever wanted," he said.
A bargain: When they were insuring Carole's engagement ring and diamond wedding band, they were appraised for more than double the price, Eric said.
The splurge: Eric's wedding gift to Carole was a silver 2004 Lexus convertible, her favorite car ever made.
Seven days in Montego Bay at Secrets Wild Orchid.
BEHIND THE SCENES
Officiant: Michael Knopf, assistant rabbi at Har Zion Synagogue, Penn Valley
Venue and Catering: Evviva, Narberth
Photo: Alex Lowy, Lowy Photo, Narberth
Music: DJ Steve Croce of Silver Sound Entertainment, Malvern
Dress: Designed by Monique Lhuillier, Nordstrom
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