When I look back at pivotal events in my life, I am often retrospectively aware of the blessings of advanced warning, little nudges from a loving God who knows I do not handle surprise well. This happened recently when my husband and I both had promptings in advance of his eventual call as bishop. I guess I function better once the shock has mellowed, when I can respond graciously rather than from a place of fight-or-flight. This was never more true than the time I proposed marriage to myself, giving new meaning to if you are prepared ye shall not fear. True story:
. . .
I had been dating G for fifteen months and, at the time, we lived two hours apart while attending different universities. We joked about our feast-or-famine dating. No big deal. But the cold aching gnaw below my heart was telling me differently: I felt increasingly bereft at every departure and that wasn’t good for my plans. Not good at all.
Love…marriage…all of this was scheduled much later in my life plan, certainly after college graduation. We had talked about how we would wait for any serious plans, despite the increasing undercurrent of certainty about the fact that we would share a future, eventually. Some day. When we were older and had more of our career paths set. When the grad school we both planned was finished. That was beginning to feel really very distant, the feasts too infrequent, the famines too…famine-y.
When G arrived the next Saturday night for our weekly visit we booked a table to eat at our favorite spot. But this night the feasting failed. Halfway through dinner, G seemed distracted, blankly nodding with a glazed look. Finally he admitted to feeling a little sick. “Maybe the flu,” he said, so I took him back to my apartment for a place to recover. An hour later he was still ill so I ran out for some medicine. The night crawled on until I convinced him off of the sick-couch and took him home to his friend’s apartment where he was crashing for the night.
I dropped him off and as he left the car he promised to see me tomorrow. “Don’t forget to lock the car, okay?” These words rang in my ears as I drove back to my place. Don’t forget to lock the avocado green 1971 Toyota Corolla station wagon? Does it even lock? I had never seen him lock it before.
Once back in my parking lot, one glance in the back seat told me that G had forgotten his duffel bag. Poor guy, first he gets the stomach flu and now he doesn’t even have his things for the night. I grabbed the bag and hefted it up to my lap. The contents clinked unexpectedly and I worried I had broken something. Expecting to find a razor or a towel or books or clothes, I unzipped the turquoise duffel bag and flailed my hand through the dark opening.
My hand brushed goblet-shaped glass and the velvet covering of a small box. Curious, I clutched the box and brought it out into the field of the lone streetlight. In my hand was a light blue jewelry box, much like one…an…engagement… My mind choked on the thought.
Should I open it? [pause] Yes.
Slowly I creaked open the box to reveal two gold rings nestled in the furrow, one bearing a diamond. Frantically, my heart started beating faster and my mind protested: I thought we had already decided to wait…oh no…I can’t believe this…how can I turn him down gently…or do I want to…does the ring even fit?
Should I try it on? [pause] Um, yeah.
I tugged the ring from the anchor and slipped it over the knuckles of my left ring finger. A little snug but it fits. I’ll get used to it.
I spent the whole night wrapping my mind around this turn of events. With dawn came first the knowledge that I would say yes and, close behind, the thought: I’ll bet I’m the first one in history to propose to herself.
Later, I said yes in person but this gift of advanced warning contained my true moment of consent. The ability to catch up with the moment was more essential to our successful union than any kneeling proposal or golden ring.
. . .
Thanks for indulging my storytelling. Now it’s your turn. How do you feel about surprises? Looking back, can you see times when you were prepared for coming changes? Do share.