He was leaving.
Over the summer we’d talked about getting married; we’d even found the ring. Yet here we were, two weeks until he was set to return to college, and he said he couldn’t propose before he left.
I had battled with God for a month about returning to school; my grandma’s battle with cancer became the reason to stay home. Josh had agreed with the decision, squashing my hopes that he would try to convince me to go back.
Josh suggested we go out to a nice dinner as a going away meal. The girls at work said it was a good thing we were already engaged or they’d think he was going to propose.
A seed was planted. One I wanted to dig up and throw away. I’d ruined so many special occasions before, I didn’t want to ruin this one with false expectations.
He seemed in a rush. He’d forgotten his watch at home, and he kept checking the clock on the car stereo as we fought traffic to the restaurant.
The host seated us in a cozy little table for two next to windows that overlooked the Puget Sound. Already I could see the faint streaks of a purply-orange sunset; it was going to be a good one! Our meal wasn’t really that impressive, so when Josh stopped eating I did too.
“Let’s not get dessert. We eat too much dessert,” he said.
Rather than turn the car toward home, as I’d expected, he drove towards the zoo. Surrounding the zoo is a five-mile drive that offers views of the Sound, which is where Josh wanted to go watch the sun set. We got lost and finally drove through gates that displayed a sign stating the park closed at dusk; we’d just made it.
I suggested a few good places to stop, but Josh seemed to know where he was going. He parked the car, and got out. I wasn’t really dressed for a hike through the woods, nevertheless, Josh was adamant about me following him. I started to get suspicious.
Walking before him down a little dirt path that hugged the edge of the cliff, I rounded a corner to find a tree stump covered with fern branches and red roses. Josh directed me to sit down on the decorated seat, as he pulled a cooler with sparkling cider and champagne flutes out of nowhere. Handing me a bouquet of roses, he said, “Melissa Redmond. I love you. I want you to be my wife.”
He may have said more, but it’s all static in my head. At one point, after he’d proposed and I’d accepted, I noticed him staring at something behind me. Quickly I turned to see what he was looking at, but saw nothing. We talked. We kissed. I said the word “amazing” way too many times.
And then our friends emerged from the bushes behind us. One of them had crouched there for at least an hour to photograph the event. The other one had video taped the entire proposal. That is what Josh had stared at, our friend’s head sticking up out of the bushes.
The next day we made the two-hour drive to Oregon; I talked the whole time about colors, locations, dates, and wedding to my heart’s content. We said we wouldn’t kiss again until our wedding day. A month later he came to visit for a week. The month after that I visited him for a week. I had paper chains lining my cubicle at work, counting down the days until I could see him again. My life became a blur of wedding planning, chemotherapy treatments and work.
And I couldn’t wait until February 24th…