July 19, 2008, seven years ago today, lives were changed.
Plans were altered.
Questions were asked.
It was unlikely that Sarabeth and I would ever meet – me from California, she from Florida. The chances were slim at best.
We didn’t meet on either coast as one might think, but in the middle of God’s country, Colorado Springs where we met at school.
It took me maybe two weeks at most to ask her out. But like all good things, our everyday courtship ended and I had to go back home to California and she back to Florida. We dated each other from our prospective hometowns for a year and a half.
That’s eighteen months with over 3,000 miles between us.
It wasn’t easy. I hate talking on the phone to begin with, and at some point I gave up and dumped Sarabeth.
Worst mistake ever.
I don’t know how or why she ever accepted me back when I came to visit her on her birthday. But I’m glad she did.
I made many promises that I was going to propose to her, but every time, I found some excuse or another to put it off again and again.
I had moved up to Seattle to work at a camp early in 2008 (almost as northwest of the continental country as one can get, while Sarabeth was almost as southeast as one could get).
She came to visit me on July 18 and that night I told her I couldn’t propose to her yet. I needed to wait.
Maybe around Christmas.
To her, a snail could crawl from Florida to Washington quicker than I was going to propose.
I picked her up from her hotel the next morning to bring her to the camp I was working at to show her around campus. I was wearing a raggedy shirt that she had expressed disinterest in at some point in our relationship. After all, I had no reason to dress up.
The chapel was first on our tour. Before we reached it, one of my colleagues came out and said I had an important call to take. So I passed my girlfriend off to him and asked him to take her to the chapel and I’ll meet her there in a few minutes.
I ran to the offices not to take a call, but to shed my raggedy shirt, and put on a nice button down I had purchased and checked for the trillionth time that the box was still in the breast pocket. I removed it and clamped it tightly in my sweaty hand.
While this was happening, my colleague led her to the chapel where she found a video of me projected onto the big screen talking about how much I love her and how glad I was that she was there. Then video ended with me saying, “Now, I have just one question to ask you…”
And right below the screen I walked in through the door with the ring in my hand while John Mclaughlin’s “So Close“ filled the chapel through the speakers.
I asked the question. She said yes.
We sat on the steps and talked and laughed and made plans for the rest of our lives.
“I have just one more surprise for you,” I said.
I then led her down to the camp’s lakeside as the morning sun danced in its reflection, and there on the sand was a table set up with flowers, two chairs, and a couple of servers (the camp cooks) ready to take our breakfast order.
Our own private breakfast on the lake.
And lots of pancakes – she loves pancakes.
But I knew our engagement anniversary would be celebrated for years to come, and I wanted to set a tradition. So later I took her to our favorite restaurant, Cheesecake Factory in downtown Seattle. It was a good choice because so far there has been a Cheesecake Factory in every state we’ve lived in.
Well, this year, Cheesecake Factory is being postponed until Wednesday the 22nd. We’re taking our daughter to celebrate her adoption day and our foster son.
Traditions are meant to be tweaked.
As long as they’re still shared with the ones you love.
Adoption Week is here!! Follow my Facebook Page for updates!