Love Letters Sustained Their Cross-Country Relationship


But they were committed to making their relationship work. One would make the occasional cross-country trip to see the other and every day at 8 p.m., without fail, Dr. Joumblat would call Dr. Van Der Linde. He would also write her letters.

“They would say, ‘open me when you’re feeling sad,’ or ‘want to laugh’ or ‘missing me,’” he recalled. “Whenever I visited her in Miami, I’d wake up in the middle of the night, write a letter, and go hide it somewhere. Then tell her about it after I left.”

In 2019, Dr. Van Der Linde and Dr. Joumblat, both now 30, completed their studies. After receiving her medical degree, she accepted a general surgery residency at Kaweah Health, a hospital in Visalia, Calif. Dr. Van Der Linde, who received an optometry degree, now works as an optometrist at Serrins Valley Vision in Visalia.

That June, they returned to San Clemente, where Dr. Van Der Linde proposed to Dr. Joumblat on the beach. Their family and friends, in on the surprise, were nearby. A month later, the two bought a house in Visalia.

They were married Sept. 18 in an outdoor ceremony before about 140 guests at the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa in California. Ryan Malaeb, the bride’s cousin, who was ordained by the American Marriage Ministries for the event, officiated.


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