Two pen pals who have been corresponding in handwritten letters for 42 years finally met this month for the first time.
George Ghossn, of East Islip, New York, and Lori Gertz, of San Diego have been writing each other since they were children. And after many attempts to see each other, the two finally met April 11.
"He was superstitious. He never wanted to do it," Gertz, 54, told ABC News. "I was always curious."
So when Gertz, a married mother of two, was taking her 18-year-old son to New York to visit Hofstra University, relatively nearby in Hempstead, she decided to see if a meeting with Ghossn, 56, could come to pass. And it did.
Ghossn told ABC News that he and Gertz began writing each other "when I was 15 and she was 12. We started writing through a chain letter. It said to send out five letters, and you were supposed to receive thousands back. I got four letters back ... One was from Lori."
The two wrote about a letter a month, updating each other on their lives. Ghossn said they discussed school, their aspirations and, of course, their families.
"When we were young, we painted idyllic pictures of our lives," Gertz said. "It was almost cursory, but as the years went on, it became more mature in what we discussed in the letters."
They've both kept all the handwritten letters written over the years.
"I had a lot of loss in my family, so I had a lot to write about," Ghossn said, noting that he even penned a letter to her on an airline napkin while traveling to his mother's funeral in 2006.
Gertz said she vividly remembers receiving that letter. In fact, she said she recalls feeling humbled that he thought of her in that moment.
"It blew my mind. That just blew my mind. [It signaled] a loyalty and a deep abiding commitment to our relationship that I'd never had with anybody. Anybody," she said.
The two are quick to clarify that there was never a romantic relationship. Ghossn said he considers Gertz his sister, especially since his brothers died and he has no living family members.
"I love George. George is a staple in my life. My whole family knows George ... It's my longest relationship that I've had with anybody. It's beautiful," Gertz said.
The two pen pals met in the lobby of a Red Roof hotel in Westbury, New York. A touching video shows their first meeting.
"We just hugged, and we cried ... and it was very emotional after all the years," Ghossn said.
"It was my childhood crashing with my adulthood. It was glorious," Gertz said. "When we met, he was sobbing. I was so gloriously happy. I didn't cry until hours later. The emotion hit me then."
The two plan to continue to write each other. Each is grateful for their relationship.
"She's a darling. She's the sweetest person," Ghossn said.
Gertz said of their relationship, "This is so beautiful ... It doesn't have the weight of all the s--- that's happened to us in our lives. It has the lightness of what a true connection really is."