After what started off to be the worst and most difficult year of my life, I find myself wondering how it is at all possible that things have turned around to the point where I can honestly say I have never been happier. And the answer I get is the same that Michael gave me in his letter almost two months ago: God blessed the broken road that led me straight to you. Those words – the words of our song - were the backdrop to the happiest and most memorable night of my life: last night, December 18, 2005.
Michael and I ran off to the mall on foot to do some last minute Christmas shopping. We decided to split up for 45 minutes because I needed to buy him something (which, I, of course, showed him beforehand… because I am a child). After an hour, Michael and I met at our pre-determined location. I wasn’t nearly ready to go home, but was prepared to pretend given how sick he was. (Unfortunately, I still hadn’t got his cough medicine.) Fortunately for me, Michael said he needed 45 more minutes. I willingly agreed and we went our separate ways.
After nearly an hour, Michael returned and said he was ready to go home. We bought the cough medicine and headed back. I noticed that his bag wasn’t in his hand anymore but assured myself that he’d stuffed it into one of the pockets of his oversized coat. On the walk home, Michael joked about proposing (something we’d talked about many times in the past week) and kept teasing me by pretending to drop to one knee in front of the very poorly decorated spruce near the Ballston Mall. I was tired so I told him to knock it off so we could go home. Still, he stopped me once or twice to hug or kiss me or say something sweet. I started getting suspicious...
We got to the door of my apartment and Michael put down my bags to open the lock. He turned to me before opening the door and told me how much he loved me before kissing me again. My heart started racing. What could be waiting behind the door? He opened it. It was just my apartment and the little Charlie Brown Christmas tree we had decorated together over a month ago that was not even lit. I felt a little sad but was tired so I staggered over to the couch where Michael took off my boots and sat across from me. As we tried to figure out what to get for dinner, he seemed to glare at me. After he handed me a menu, he came over to my side of the couch and kissed me again and said, “I can’t wait to marry you.” I laughed and told him he was getting sentimental. I felt proud that I’d finally cracked him.
As I looked over the menu, I heard him turn our song on in my room. He restarted it 3 times and I assumed it was because I had left it on loop while jamming to my new Carrie Underwood songs earlier that day. He came into the living room and sat back down close to me. I asked him if he was ready to order, but he said he wanted to wait a little while. He continued glaring at me and looked straight into my eyes before telling me how happy I made him and my imagination started to run wild. He couldn’t possibly have done anything to my room while we were at the mall, right? We had been on foot and he surely didn’t have enough time to get back and forth. I told myself not to get carried away and risk disappointment again and just enjoyed the moment.
Finally - and after much coughing - Michael put his head down and asked if we could rest for a little while before we ordered dinner. He was sick – and asked so sweetly - so I agreed. We headed over to my room and when I got into the hallway, I could see that the door was almost closed (something I never do). From the crack in the door, behind which our song was playing loudly, I could see a yellow glow coming out of the room. I stopped dead in my tracks. My heart started racing again. I felt Michael nudge me gently, but didn’t turn around. I opened the door and….
I stopped breathing. I turned to Michael, who started to get on one knee and take my hands and I started to cry. It was a good minute before he reached for the ring and I just hugged him so hard and listened to the music. (Given that he is 6’5" and nearly a foot and a half taller than me, he was at eye level the entire time.) He reached for the box that was wrapped up in the penguin’s scarf and slowly opened it. I don’t know if it was from the fact that the ring was so beautiful or that it was so blinding, but this only made me cry more. “I want to take care of you for the rest of my life,” he said, before popping the question. I said “yes” but it must have been muffled by my crying, so he asked again. When I’d said yes a second time and returned to hugging him and crying into his shoulder (this time looking at the ring), the song ended. It couldn’t have been staged better if it was a movie, and I couldn’t have been more blown away than I was.
We sat on the floor for a while and drank the wine that he had poured. I couldn’t believe how happy I was – nor could I imagine how he’d managed to get back and forth to the mall 3 times in 45 minutes to set all this up – or how he’d been able to get away with putting a 7 foot tall Christmas tree in the middle of my room without my knowing it. In every way, it was more than a dream come true – just like Michael – and one that I will never EVER forget.
The most comical part, which I feel too compelled to share, was this morning - when I woke up and realized that I was engaged and discovered that in Michael’s rearranging of my room the night before, he’d made it virtually impossible for me to get into my wardrobe. I looked down at the most beautiful ring I’d ever seen and realized that it was mine, that Michael was stuck with me, and that this was the beginning of the best time in our lives.
And - for the 55th time since I'd become Michael's fiance- I cried…
I could not have been happier... It's hard to imagine I could ever be.