Thursday, August 21, 2008

She Said Yes

I'm hijacking Sunny's blog today for a very special (and long!) entry. -- Jason

Ten years ago, on August 21, 1998, I asked Sunny to marry me.

We began dating in the summer of 1995, right as I was graduating from high school. Sunny was a year younger than me in school, so that first year ours was sort of a "long distance" relationship. It wasn't really (I was at Lipscomb, she was in Mt. Juliet), but we pretty much only saw each other on the weekends. We hated it at the time, but in hindsight, I think that was a good thing. It allowed us to develop a relationship at a leisurely pace without smothering each other. Her first semester of college, Sunny went to Freed-Hardeman, which made things a little more difficult. But I made it to Henderson a couple of times a month to see her that semester. On August 24, 1996, after more than a year of dating, we finally said those special words to each other: "I love you."

By August 1998, we knew we wanted to get married. I had another year of school and she had another year and a half, but we both kinda knew it was only a matter of time. We were set to celebrate our 2 year "I love you" anniversary a couple of nights early (as a dormitory RA, Sunny had room check-in duties on the actual date) and I figured this was as good a time as any to pop the question. I spent the days leading up to the date digesting as much information as I could about diamond rings. I learned about the 4 C's (color, caret, clarity, and cut). I also quickly learned about the 5th C: COST. Nevertheless, I finally settled on the perfect ring. I made reservations at a swanky restaurant. I got a haircut. I wrote a poem that expressed exactly how I felt about her. I had the perfect spot picked out at the local park. My plan was for a post-dinner proposal on the bridge at the park with the sun setting across the water. It was going to be perfect.

Except that it wasn't.

As I open the car door for Sunny, I notice my first critical error. Lying on the console, in plain sight, was the business card from Carlyle & Co., the jewelry store where I'd bought her ring. It couldn't have been more obvious if it were a flashing neon sign. It seems that while dreaming of my blissful proposal scenario, I'd somehow forgotten to put the business card in the glove box. I rush around to my door, hoping to get in and swipe it up before she notices. But I'm too late. As I get in the car, I notice her eyes cutting away, making a point to NOT be looking at the business card. With my cover blown, I wonder if I should just call off the whole thing. Or if I should just propose on the spot. Both options seem lame, so I stick to the plan. While showing her some pictures I'd developed of a recent mission trip, I nonchalantly swipe the card and stick it in my pocket. Maybe all isn't lost, I think to myself.

At dinner, Sunny is noticeably beaming. She has this smile that she can't seem to wipe off of her face. I know she knows about the business card. But I desperately want the engagement to be a surprise. I've always avoided doing the big stuff on the days when she would expect it. Like, I'd send her a bouquet of flowers on Feb. 13, because she didn't expect them then. Stuff like that. Only this time, on the big day, I'm actually going to do something special. Which will surprise her. Which is the whole point. Only now she wont' be surprised. She's expecting it. And it's killing me. I've ordered a sirloin, but I can barely eat. This is not going according to plan.

Until...a thought. She knows about the card, so she knows I've been ring shopping. No avoiding that. But does she think I'm really stupid enough to leave the card out in plain sight on the night I'm intending to propose? Little does she know I really am that stupid. But if I can make her believe I'm not, then I'm back in the game. I decide to go for it.

"Sunny, I have something I need to tell you."

"OK," she says, her face getting flush. She's still beaming.

"I know you saw the Carlyle & Co. card there in the car tonight. I didn't want you to see that, but I guess I'd better just go ahead and tell you. I went to look at rings the other day. I was really wanting this to be a special night and all. And I know we've been talking a lot about getting married. But, honey, I have to be honest: I had no idea how much those engagement rings cost. I realized I didn't quite have enough money to be able to get you the ring I wanted, the ring you deserve. And so, I just wanted you to know that. I'd hate for you to get your hopes up just because you saw that business card in the car tonight."

She says all the right things, but I can tell she's deflated. She assures me it's not a big deal, that she understands. A few minutes later, she excuses herself to the bathroom. When she comes back, I can tell she's been crying. And I'm back in the game, baby! (Not surprisingly, my appetite came back, too!)

But I wasn't quite out of the woods yet. My second critical error was miscalculating when the sun would set. As we head out to the car, I realize I won't have time to make it all the way to the park. Time for another audible. There was a swing at Lipscomb that was really special to us; it was a place we would sit together and talk and pray and dream about our lives together. The more I think about it, this is way better than the park anyway. I glance at my watch; I should have just enough time to get her there before sundown.

As we near the car, I say, "Well, I do have one surprise for you." I pull out the cloth napkin I've stolen from the restaurant and I blindfold her. I tell her I have a special place to take her, but I don't want her to know where we're going. I get her back to campus and get her out of the car and walk her to the swing holding her hand. I remember her being so worried that I was going to let her trip or fall down! I finally get her seated in the swing, still wearing the blindfold. I take out the ring, get down on one knee and I'm just about to speak when...a girl comes around the corner walking her dog! I'm thinking, "Get out of here! Can't you see what's going on here! Don't you know how many times this thing has been hanging on by a thread! And now it's all going to be blown by you and your dog!" She sees us and instantly stops in her tracks. She gives me a smile, turns quickly and walks in the other direction. Final crisis averted.

I tell Sunny that it's time for her to remove the blindfold. When she does, her eyes meet mine first. She gives me a warm smile because she knows this is "our swing" and I think for just a moment she's impressed by my sweet attempt to redeem what has been for her an otherwise depressing night. She doesn't realize that she's looking past something, something I'm holding out in my hand. A moment passes and I glance down at the ring and then back to her eyes. I look back at her just in time to see her countenance light up again as she sees the ring in my hand. I soak up the moment before pulling out my poem and reading it to her. In the final line, I ask her to marry me. The final verse belongs to her; her response determines whether the poem is a comedy or a tragedy.

Ten years later, I'm still thankful she said yes.

Sunny, I'll never get tired of telling that story. And I'll never get tired of you. Thank you for loving me. And thank you for saying yes.


Stacy said...

That's a sweet story, Jason! Sunny, you're lucky to have such a thoughtful loving man!

Jason, I am a little concerned, however, that getting to the successful end of this story took both a lie and theft. And you caved in to both...hmmmm.... :)

TARA said...

Jason, Your love story rivals Pioneer Woman's romance! Except it took her 30 chapters to lead up to the proposal! I never knew about the biz card, or the park plan.

So do yall still have the napkin??

Amy said...

Such a sweet, sweet story. I love hearing people's proposal stories, sounds like you did awesome Jason. I'm astonished that you remember so many details.

Sunny, I second Stacy, you are a lucky woman! Such a wonderful story you have to pass on to your kids and grandkids!!


Love it, Jason! What a great story and I love how you remember every detail about it even though it's been years since then. Thanks for sharing with us. Can you give some lessons to our husbands about writing sweet stories and stuff about us on our blogs for everybody to read? Ha, ha! Just kidding! :)

Jason said...

The end justifies the means. Right? :)

Jason said...

And yes, we still have the napkin. It still has some of Sunny's mascara on it. I guess it'll be a family heirloom for us.

Jason said...

And Anna, lest you think I'm a better husband than I really am, read this.

Amy said...

I love the story!! Way to improvise there, Jason. You really had poor Sunny on a roller coaster that night!

Laura said...

Happy Anniversary. Love to read it that it is so sweet. Love you guys.

chesley said... sweet!

Laura Beth said...

So sweet! Good job, Jason! Chad had brought along one of his dad's handkerchiefs for the big question and we still have it, too. It has some of my make-up on it as well!

Supabloggasuprememama said...

OH MY GOSH this is the sweetest story ever. I love love LOVE how you blind sided her! poor sunny! I would have done the exact same thing! thats the best story!!!! thanks for sharing and congratulations guys!!!!!

Jess said...

Jason & Sunny,
It is such a blessing to get to hear the story of how God brought you two together to be where and who you are now. I always knew you were supposed to be together, I just never knew some of the details. Very sweet, very romantic, very God-planned! Congratualtions on 9 (13) love-filled years together!