As I turned into the drive, I was nervous. They didn't expect me. I had been around the couple for about a year, short visits here and there. When he had had been diagnosed with cancer, the chemotherapy and radiation had made the old Marine as weak as a kitten, I had come around to help with the yard work. He would sit and "supervise" me in a lawn chair as I used his lawn mower and weed eater on the yard. Sometimes I would sit and share a cigar. On good days he would walk inside without help.
On this day, I knew he was in bed. He had had another set of treatments the days before, which always left him weak. I knew also that his wife was there. That was part of the reason I had picked then to come over. I had first met her at the hospital, where she was a nurse. We talked for a few minutes in the kitchen, her telling me that he was in bed. I had wanted to talk to him first, and thought that was the "proper" thing to do, but you don't barge past a wife into their bedroom to see a man in the sick bed without a good reason. A good reason and her permission.
I didn't really know how to say what I had come to say. I had rehearsed and thought a lot about it, but now.....
I reached into the pocket of my jacket, and pulled out a small box. My hands were almost shaking when I opened it, and showed it to her. She instantly recognized it, and smiled. I told her that I thought I should talk to her husband about it. She hugged me, and left to make sure he was ready to see a visitor.
I remember walking in to see him. I remember him propped up in bed to talk to me. I don't remember much of what I said. I think I babbled a bit. I do remember handing him the open box and saying that "...I love her, and I would like to ask her to marry me. If that's alright with you."
It surprised me that my voice almost cracked, and that there was a tear in his eye when said he thought it would be fine. I asked them not to say anything to her, that I would ask "soon".
She didn't know I had the ring. We had gone "looking" at them a while back. She had picked one she liked. I had gone back later and put the ring on the "I don't have any money but I want to buy it anyway" lay away plan. She had known that. What she didn't know was that I had been able to get it payed off much sooner than expected.
She was coming over that afternoon to help me put up a Christmas tree with my 3 year old son. When she arrived, I had the box with the artificial tree and a box or two of decorations in the floor. I was nervous. We set the tree up, and were just about to start decorating it. I stood behind her and told her that I was really glad she came over, and that I loved her, but that I thought decorating for Christmas was something that should be done by family.
I remember the surprise on her face, and maybe just a little hurt. I remember she said "Oh, OK." in a dejected way. I remember pulling the little box out of my pocket.....
I had planned to get down on one knee. I had prepared what to say; how much I loved her, how special she was, how lucky I was to find her. I had planned to tell her I had asked her father for permission, and lots of other romantic stuff. I was going to promise to love her forever, and tell her how good of a husband I would be to her.
As I pulled to box out of my pocket, my legs got stiff, and I forgot everything I was going to say. I just stood there, heart beating fast. I opened the box, held it out and said.... I honestly don't know what I said. I was terrified that she would say no. My plan was crumbling around me. I was standing, not kneeling according to plan. I couldn't even think of all the things I wanted to tell her to convince her to say yes. I think I blurted out something like "Would you marry me?" And I don't remember what she said either. Obviously it was some form of yes, but whether it was "yes", or "OK" or even "I guess so" I can't say.
What I do remember, without a shadow of a doubt, was that when she hugged me and had that ring on her finger while she did it, I knew. I knew that I loved her, more than anyone else on earth. I knew that she was "The One". I knew that I would belong to her as long as she would have me. I knew that all was right with the world.
Friday is her birthday. I want to surprise her with something great, something that will remind her that I love her with all my heart. I want her to know that as strong as my feelings for her were then, they have only grown deeper and even stronger. Unfortunately, what I will most likely get her will be something less than the greatest gift ever. I hope she does believe that it is the thought that counts. I will also send her a link to this post. (hows that for a surprise)
Above all I want her to know that I love her. I want her to know that the "flames" of my love for her have never died down. They have just turned into glowing coals, hotter now than before, although perhaps the flames are harder to see.
I love you Angel! I always will.