You were absolutely perfect when you asked me to marry you.
We sat up high in the trees, so you couldn’t exactly kneel, but you softened your voice, cocked your head a little, and let the secret you had been keeping for the past few weeks shine through your eyes even as you asked with your mouth.
Would I marry you?
You were perfect, but I was sadly disappointed in myself. Being that I am somewhat of a romantic at heart, I was expecting myself to burst out crying. But I didn’t. I didn’t even shed a tear. I sat there completely stunned. Surprised into silence. Looking at the ring that had magically appeared in your hand.
And then I giggled. And looked up at your face. And giggled again. I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t think of what to say.
Was this really happening?
“Where did you get that?” was the first thing I managed to say.
Why I asked that, I have absolutely no idea. My brain must have turned to scrambled eggs. You laughed, but sat there patiently.
“Oh! I forgot to say yes! YES!”
Then it was your turn to giggle.
“Aren’t you supposed to put it on?” I asked.
You carefully slipped it over my finger and we both stared at it. It was the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. And you were giving it to me. As a way to remind me that I was going to be your wife.
I was going to marry my best friend.
You wrapped your arm around me.
“Do you like it?”
“It’s perfect. So perfect.”
“Will you marry me?"
“I think you already asked that."
"Oh yeah. But will you?"
"Yes! Are you sure this is for real?”
“Yes. You’re going to be Renee Higgins."
I don’t know how long we sat there and talked. But by “talked” I mean that we mostly giggled and kept asking the same questions over and over again. I agreed to marry you a couple more times. And you kept telling me that yes, this was for real.
The sun was setting through the woods before us. I kept wondering if it would set and I would wake up. But I didn’t wake up. The dream was real life.
It was the sweetest moment of my life. You explained where we will live. We talked about what needs to be done. What needs to be planned. We stared at the diamond on my finger. We stared at the sky. We stared at each other and giggled. We practiced saying fiancé and laughed at each other for it. We were corny. We were serious. We were little kids. We were suddenly old.
"I'll be eighty-seven, you'll be eighty-nine... I'll still look at you like the stars that shine..."
We laughed a lot. And smiled a lot.
I silently thanked God for His goodness. Then, I thanked Him out loud, and you hugged me tight.
You had this boyish pleasure in hearing me admit how surprised I was.
So I admitted it over and over again.
You driving up to my grandparents' cabin to see me had seemed normal.
Asking to go for a walk after dinner was simply routine. And you loved walks in the country as much as I did.
Even when you asked if I wanted to talk up in the tree stand, I followed without any suspicion.
You asked me to talk to you, so I did. And even though I could tell you weren’t paying attention, I thought maybe it was because you were tired.
So when you suddenly turned to face me and asked when we were going to get married, I just smiled. You had talked to me about it before. In fact, I think I had refused you eight times in the past two weeks. And countless times in the last eleven months. It had turned into a game we played. You would ask, and I would ask where the ring was. I thought this was just another game.
“Why don’t you tell me?” I teased.
“Well I keep waiting for you to ask,” you teased back.
“That’s your job, silly."
“But you keep saying no to me.”
“You never have a ring,” I reminded you.
“Will you marry me now?”
“Where’s the ring?” I asked and laughed. Because I expected your hands to come up sheepishly empty-handed as usual. Because I didn’t expect you to take your hand out of your pocket and open it to show a sparkling diamond.
But you did.
“Will you marry me, Renee?”
I can’t wait for our life together. And I’m thankful for how much of life we’ve already been able to share.
Are we really the same little kids who used to play in the sandbox together?
Are you the same wiry, quiet boy I used to follow down to the fishing bridge and make faces at from across church? The boy I begged to jump off the pontoon with me?
Am I the same wild-haired, curious thirteen-year-old you noticed sitting by the campfire with a pile of little kids on my lap? As you thought to yourself that you wanted to marry someone like that one day, could you have any idea that it would be that exact someone?
For all the camping trips, the Sunday afternoon shenanigans at each others’ houses, the church get-togethers, the field trips, the homeschool co-ops, the days when we became best friends… I am thankful.
For the eleven months we have had going on sunset walks, watching Psych and Downtown Abbey, driving out for icecream dates, singing country songs on the radio to each other in corny voices, adventuring around the forest preserve, pretending like we know how to dance, sitting quietly together, dreaming together, texting until we are asleep, trying new things and going new places together, and wanting to do old things and go old places with the other one for the first time… I am thankful.
For everything that lies ahead… I am thankful.
God has truly been good to us. In the hard times, and in the best times. I’m grateful we can trust Him with our future. I know it won't always be easy. But I'd rather face life with you than anyone else.
Thanks for asking me to marry you a hundred times. And thanks for having a ring on the hundred and first. ;)
I love you.