In celebration of Valentine’s Day and my 10 year wedding anniversary, I am sharing a series of posts that I wrote several years ago chronicling our love story. This is the conclusion ♥
I still have no idea exactly what the movie was about. Airplanes maybe. He’d suggested we watch it when we arrived back at my house. I couldn’t focus, despite a heavy presence of Leonardo DiCaprio, because J had shifted on the couch so that I was resting against his legs.
I was contemplating this new development when he touched my hair, letting the strands fall through his fingers. He carefully pulled me closer to him, arms around my waist, lacing his fingers through mine. We sat in silence until I unwound myself from his embrace and said goodnight.
The next night he reached over and took my hand again. “You have to tell me what this means,” I said, “You’ll have to date me or something you know.” He stroked the back of my hand and laughed at me. “I was going to ask you tonight. But I just got here and you sort of beat me to the punch,” he smiled.
I wasn’t sure of my feelings. They weren’t quite romantic but he was still my favorite person. I was terrified, absolutely terrified to fall in love. I never wanted to feel heartbreak again.
But I knew that if I didn’t at least see where it went, I would always wonder.
So I asked J to be patient with me. And I asked God to guard my heart, to pace me, to not let me fall in love with J unless he was the man I’d marry.
Almost five months later, he turned my face to his and kissed me softly.
We were in the den perfecting that kiss when I got the news. My dad had been in an accident. He was in the hospital and his condition was critical. I looked down at my cell phone, which I had shut off because I’d been teaching youth earlier that night. I had 27 voicemails.
J loaded me, hysterical, into the car and drove me to the hospital. It was the first night of many that I would sleep there.
I stretched and rubbed the ache in my neck. I’d lost count of how many nights I’d slept on the waiting room floor of the ICU. Too many. I rolled over and touched his shoulder gently. He’d been there every night as well, sleeping at the hospital alongside me, leaving early in the morning to go to class and returning with dinner.
My aunt walked in as he kissed my forehead on his way out.
“I think that boy loves you,” she told me after he was gone.
He tucked a letter into my bag one morning and I read it while I waited for visiting hours to come.
“I don’t know if our road will end in eighty days or eighty years…” he’d written in his letter. I didn’t either but I was leaning towards eighty years. I wanted to ask him about it but I didn’t want to rush anything.
So what I did was, I waited a full twenty four hours and then I asked him about it the very next day.
(Patience has always been his strong suit but never mine.)
“Do you see us together? You know, for eighty years?” He told me that he wasn’t even going to think about getting that serious for at least another year or more.
I tried not to look upset by that revelation and he tried not to laugh at the fact that he had a diamond ring hidden in his closet.
He called a few days before Christmas. “You are going out with the girls this week, right? I’m going to take your dad to dinner to celebrate being out of his wheelchair.”
So then I called all of my the girlfriends and told them that maybe he was going to propose after all. Christie Michelle told me that she’d asked him and that he wasn’t, so she didn’t want me to get my hopes up.
I cried because I loved him and I knew I loved him and I wasn’t sure if it would be good for me to love him and not know if he loved me back. I drove to his house the next night, because I am not at all impulsive and prone to rash decision making. Except the opposite of that.
“I think we might have to break up” I told him.
The house looked like a story book, garlands draped from the porch, red and green lights twinkling and oversized candy canes dotting the sidewalk. I drove past slowly and then made a u-turn. I didn’t want to look at Christmas lights alone. I wanted to look at them with J. I made my way back to his house, thinking about our conversation.
“I don’t want you to think it’s an ultimatum,” I’d told him, “It’s not, really, it’s just that I’m afraid I feel more for you and I’m not sure I want to be emotionally in a different place than you.”
I knew my words didn’t make much sense. He tried to soothe my fears without giving away that he’d taken the ring back to the jewelers just that morning to have it cleaned again. He wanted it to be perfect.
“Trust me,” he’d said.
He told me to dress up for New Year’s Eve. We were going to re-create the fancy date night that he had planned back in the fall, the one that I’d had to cancel to rush my dad to the emergency room after complications from his surgery.
The room was dark except for the brilliant glow of the candles lining every surface. I turned to J as he took my jacket. “You know, if you ever DO decide to propose to me you should definitely use candles,” I told him.
(I am very sharp.)
He smiled and we sat down to the dinner he had prepared. He slid a slip of paper towards me. “This is the movie ticket from our first date,” he said, “you should scrapbook it.”
Then I asked for another piece of pie because I am a girl who has a great love of romance and also desserts. “Um, you can’t have one,” he said nervously. I eyed him curiously.
“Actually, I was going to ask you to dance with me.” He pressed a button and pulled me to him, swaying gently to the music. I teared up a little as the song faded in the background. He cleared his throat. “I have a gift for you,” he told me as he reached under the couch.
“What? I didn’t get you anything! I didn’t know we were doing New Year’s presents. I’ve never given anyone a New Year’s present!” I exclaimed apologetically.
(Seriously. How did I not catch on here?)
He handed me a small, leather bound Bible. Tiny gold letters embossed into the cover spelled out my name + his last name.
I stood there trying to work out what it meant. So maybe he did think I was the one? Is that why his last name was on there? He’d said he wouldn’t even think about proposing for over a year. Maybe it was sort of like a promise ring, I thought.
Clearly discernment is not my spiritual gift.
“Look at the name,” he encouraged. I stared at him in confusion.
“I am,” I replied.
“Look at the ribbon,” he said.
And that’s when I saw the ring, tied to a satin burgandy ribbon pressed between the pages.
I looked up in astonishment only to find him down on one knee.
He handed me a piece of paper after I said yes. And by “said yes” I definitely mean “tackled him to the floor with my enthusiatic agreement.”
He’d written me a song and my eyes fell on the date, inked in the upper righthand corner.
“You knew? You’ve known? When did you…”
He brushed my hair back.
“I’ve always needed you,” he told me, “I just didn’t always know it.”
The doorbell chimed and J’s eyes sparkled as our friends and family came through the door with gifts and desserts and congratulations. He had been rushing me through dinner because everyone was waiting for his call. They were all in on it. They all knew.
“We were trying to throw you off!” said Christie Michelle.
“FINALLY!” exclaimed Cherany.
Want to know what happened next? Of course you do. Love stories are the best and also it’s really funny. Read the rest of the story here.