So between the last installment of our love story and this post, we’re skipping over two and a half years of dating. When we got engaged, I had just graduated from college. So let me catch you up to speed.
During my last year of college, Dave and I spent the four months of the Fall semester apart as he was studying abroad in Austria. I forget about that part frequently; I’m not sure if it’s because it was so long ago or if I blocked it out. People seem pretty divided over whether or not being away from your significant other is a good thing or a bad thing. I think it can be both, depending on timing, season of life, and time apart. But for us, I think it was beneficial. It definitely solidified our commitment to one another, and we found other ways to grow closer together, like obscenely late phone calls and daily messages.
Once Dave got home from his semester abroad (best day ever, by the way), he had planned on coming back to school to finish the year with me. But over the course of Christmas break, we decided, for numerous reasons and promptings, that Dave should go ahead and move to my hometown, start working, and start getting ready for nursing school. So we spent another semester apart (but we got to see one another occasionally this time!), and I could not wait to graduate and be at home again.
Alright, which brings us to the excitement!
Obviously, Dave and I knew we wanted to get married; otherwise, he wouldn’t have moved to my hometown, lived with my parents, and started planting roots there. And like any young Christian girl who’s dating, it was all I could do not to spend every waking moment dreaming about when he would propose and when we would get married.
There were a few moments during that Spring semester that I thought he might propose. I really really thought he was going to propose over Easter weekend. Oh my goodness, do you remember that, Dave? That was awful. On our drive home from school, Kaitlin and I chatted about if this weekend could be “it”. I got home on Holy Thursday and … no proposal. I didn’t expect one on Good Friday, so I eagerly awaited the Easter Vigil and … nothing. Ok, certainly he must be proposing on Sunday, then! I had to leave early Monday morning to go back to school, so he better make this quick! Sunday came … and went … no proposal. Sunday night was met with a round of disappointed and copious tears as a helpless Dave (who at this time, knew exactly when he was going to propose) sought to comfort me and assure me without giving too much away.
I’m sure he began to doubt his plans in that moment. Run, Dave, run like the wind.
So on Easter Monday I picked Kait up as we headed back to school. She commiserated with me about the lack of proposal, and encouraged me that it probably wouldn’t be too much longer (she also knew exactly when Dave was planning on proposing, the stinker 😉 ).
I finished my final semester and graduation rolled around. (This was another moment that I though he might propose because both of our families were there and it was sentimental and yada yada. But I’ll spare you further details because you don’t want to hear another sob story.)
Are you still with me? Good, here’s where things really start rolling …
A few days before I graduated, my paternal grandfather passed away. That was a very difficult time for me. So once I got home from school, I was immediately thrust into visitations, the funeral, numerous family dinners, etc. The two weeks after graduation were exhausting emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
One night during the two weeks of difficulty, Dave was driving me home from somewhere. He turned to me and said, “Let’s go on a date next Friday.” I sighed and mumbled something about just being so tired. He responded jovially, “Come on, you need to get out and eat some good food and just enjoy yourself for a while.” I realized I wasn’t going to get out of this date, so I agreed. Perhaps it would be good for me …
A few days later, I woke up one morning to a lovely red rose on my bedside table. With it was a note, written by Dave, mentioning something he really loved about me.
Oh that’s sweet of him, I thought.
Then the next morning, I woke up to another red rose with another note. This continued for eight straight days.
I should have known something was up, right? But I was clueless. I think the previous weeks had left me exhausted to the point where I wasn’t even thinking about engagement anymore. You know how, when you’re pregnant and overdue, you literally convince yourself that the baby is never going to come out? I think I had convinced myself that David was never going to propose.
But on the ninth day, the day of our planned date, I woke up to no rose. I was bummed, but didn’t think too much of it. I went about that day normally, and finally began getting ready for the date that I still wasn’t too excited for.
Dave picked me up and we went to evening Mass at a local parish, and then went to eat at our favorite local Italian restaurant. I ordered my usual lasagna and chatted happily as I scarfed it down. Dave, on the other hand, had a slightly different disposition. He was happy, absolutely, but he was not particularly chatty. He also just ordered spaghetti, which should have been a hint for me, because the man never orders a meal without meat. Especially not at this place.
We finished our meal and got back in the car. It was a beautiful summer evening. I remember it smelling really wonderful outside. Once we fastened our seat belts, Dave turned on some Christmas music and told me to close my eyes. He had a surprise for me, and he didn’t want me to know where we were going. So I closed my eyes, rested my head against the back of the seat, and actually drifted off for a bit. We finally arrived at the destination, and Dave came around to lead me out of the car. My eyes still closed, he walked me up a hill (I could tell from the grass and the incline), and fumbled around for a minute while I waited patiently to see where we were.
“Open your eyes.”
I was right! We were on a hill overlooking one of our state parks. Dave had set up a picnic blanket with wine under a big tree. The sun was starting to lower and there was nothing but green grass for miles. It was lovely.
He looked at me and said, “Before we have wine, I have your rose and note for the day!”. He handed me a gorgeous white rose and an envelop containing a letter that was clearly longer than the two-sentence notes from the eight previous days.
“Now, I want you to read the letter out loud while you look at this”, he directed as he pointed toward the grassy knolls. I opened the letter and began reading. Dave scooted behind me to where I could no longer see him. The letter was a poetic expression of all sorts of wonderful and lovey things that I won’t pen here (although I could, because I still have it 😉 ). By the time I got to the end of the letter, I started to become excitedly suspicious. My heart started to race. Is this it?
The end of Dave’s letter explained that he had been praying a novena to the Sacred Heart of Jesus for me for the past nine days (we have a thing for novenas, mk? And I have a big thing for the Sacred Heart). Ohhh okay, so that’s what the roses were for, I thought.
I turned that page of the letter, and on the final page were the words “Turn Around”.
I did so, and there he was behind me, on one knee.
I think I stopped breathing for a few seconds.
“Olivia Marie, will you marry me?”
I sputtered out something along the lines of “Yes, of course!”, and we had all the feelings, toasted with wine, watched the sun set, and set our wedding date. Right then and there.
Dave then suggested that we head to my house because certainly my parents were dyingggg to see us.
When we arrived home, my parents had set out an adorable display of pictures of the two of us, chocolate covered strawberries, and champagne.
We giggled and hugged and cried. And then Kaitlin and Christina (along with her now-hubby, JW!), came out from hiding and I cried lots and lots more.
As if that weren’t enough, Dave’s siblings then walk through the front door. They had come in to surprise us! We spent the night celebrating and planning. It was glorious.
A final detail for you: we were engaged on a Friday, and my mom had planned a “graduation party” for me that Saturday. So the next afternoon, all my extended family and Dave’s whole family came in, and we had a raging Southern party complete with mint juleps, fried chicken, and beer. Such a fantastic weekend. I can’t even adequately describe it.
So thanks for choosing me, David Michael. And thanks for asking 😉