8 years ago today, I was on my way up to the Divine Mercy Shrine with my whole family and my fiancee to get our brand-spankin-new engagement blessed. It was a day, a great gush of memories, I will always, always treasure. Maybe it’s the baby I just had five weeks ago, or maybe I’m just feeling sentimental but I looked through my journals and realized I didn’t have an entry about this wonderful time. So I decided to immortalize my memories forever on the world wide web. Actually, it’s just a heck of a lot easier to type than write by hand these days!
Hey, you don’t have to keep reading if your looking for sarcastic dry humor, because this could get a wee bit sappy.
8 years ago yesterday, January 5th 2007 was a really rainy day in New York. I was packing to head back to wrap up my final senior semester of college at Franciscan University. Christmas break was coming to an end, but I was really eager to get back to see my wonderful, wonderful, gosh-I-can’t-wait-to-marry-him boyfriend, Tom. Tom who lived 7 hours away in the amazing city of Pittsburgh, PA.
Rainy day, right? So naturally since I wasn’t going anywhere special or seeing any one other than my family, I sat around in my sweats and my oversized Columbia jacket, unshowered, listening to the Phantom of the Opera soundtrack and simultaneously checking my e-mail for the majority of the day.
I had reached out to Tom a couple times to but his phone kept going to voicemail. Which was odd. Eventually he called me back, and told me he was in the mall returning something from Christmas. He’d call me back later when he was done.
I popped on the tv in my parent’s basement and curled up on the couch with my pj’s and unshowered self when Mom stuck her head in asking if I wanted to go with her to adoration, then meet up with Dad and my sisters (like usual on Fridays) at Village Pizza. I really didn’t want to get dressed, and I remember actually debating if I should go or not. Honestly, I just wanted to talk on the phone with Tom…..eh what the heck. I went. I only upgraded my pj pants to yoga pants, kept the messy bun, make-up less, shower-less self in the super baggy hoodie and headed out with Mom. After all, I really didn’t care who I saw in this town. I had no one I needed to impress. Tom wasn’t here.
After holy hour, Mom and my sisters got ourselves a booth at Village pizza and we waited for Dad who was running late. It was pouring rain outside. Of course, because I was at the table, the conversation turned to wedding ‘one days’ and I told my Mom about a picture I had seen of a chapel length veil and oooo how I loved that veil, and I want a veil like that someday and…
“Annemarie!” She cut me off, almost exasperated, “You’re not even engaged! You’re not getting married anytime soon…”
Why was everyone still surprised to hear me talk like that though? I mean I only had been collecting wedding magazines since I was a freshman, and designing my wedding invitations since I was….like 12. And journaling about how I never wanted a honeymoon, just a homestead like the Waltons, and 7 kids and a wedding in a cotton dress with a black-eyed-susan crown…since I was like 10. (I totally have the journals–and dress sketches– to prove it. What a hippie) Regardless, I knew I wanted to be- was called to be- a bride, a wife, since…well… since as long as I could remember. Nothing was more convicted in my heart, brought me more peace, than the thought of marriage. Especially to this guy, Tom, who I knew the Lord had led me to. (Another story, another day)
So there we were, waiting for Dad who finally bustled in all wet with his umbrella. He came up to the table and leaned over to me, asking me in a hurried way to quick run out to the Volvo for him. Because he had left something for my sister Katie, who was also heading back to college, on the passenger seat. He must have seen the hesitancy in me because of all the rain, because he insisted “Can you just do that for me?” I knew he needed to place the pizza order, so I got up, no umbrella, and jogged to the parking lot.
It was dark, and wet but the street was lined with beautiful white Christmas lights still. I made it to the Volvo and dove inside the drivers side to stay dry while I searched for Katie’s gift or whatever it was. Nothing was on the passenger seat. I checked under the seat if it fell, nothing. Nothing in the visor, or the glove compartment. Checked the driver’s visor and found an envelope. With Tom’s handwriting all over it. Huh?
I opened up the envelope and immediately the words “be my bride” “marry me” leapt out at me from the dozens of scribbles filling up the page. My heart did somersaults and I quickly turned around and looked in the back trunk of the car where I saw duffel bags. Tom’s duffel bags. I was sweating. Crap, I realized, I wasn’t wearing any deodorant either! In a matter of seconds, everything clicked in my head what was happening and by the time my body does what it normally does when I’m surprised—shake uncontrollably– guess who was standing outside my car window.
Tom, with an umbrella (smart guy) was motioning to me to open the door and get out. Tears were rolling down my cheeks, partly because I couldn’t believe I blew the surprise too soon and partly because I was totally stunned…I got out and all he said was
“hhhhiiiiii” I whimpered
He was smiling so much, and I continued whimpering and waving the envelope
“What are you doing here? How did you get here? What are you doing? I thought you were at the mall.”
He told me he just came to drive me back to school. I looked at him like ‘yeah. right.’
“Let’s take a walk.” He was SO calm, so….rehearsed!
“A walk?” I started blubbering, ” But it’s raining!” But he took my arm and led me down the sidewalk back towards Village pizza. We got to the corner crosswalk and he pushed the button. We waited and then, he turned around, faced me and put both his hands on my shoulders.
All I remember him saying is “You know I love you.” and I thought “No. Not now! I’m in my sweats! I haven’t showered! I have no make up on! I am SO GROSS! WHYYYY”
Then, he knelt down on that sopping wet sidewalk, and I kept shaking like a leaf and blubbering. Actually I was crying so much, I said “What? You have to say that again, I’m never going to remember this, because I just can’t believe this is happening” Cars at the stop light were honking. He was crying. I was crying. I was shaking, he wrapped me so tight in his coat to stop me from shaking, I had to explain, through blubbering that I wasn’t cold just so, so, so, shocked. So caught off guard. SO HAPPY!
After the elation, and excited chattering that happens afterwards— when he told me how he’d been traveling over 9 hours to get to NY on time via busses and trains and my Dad picking him up at the station…. he stepped back, reached into his jacket pocket and said,
“So do you wanna see the ring or what?”
Because he kept the ring in his pocket, per his friend’s advice “ You always want the girl to say yes to you, not the ring” But who cared about the ring at this point? The love of my life was going to marry me! I didn’t care if it was a rubber band!!! I was going to be Mrs. Tom Thimons!!!
Of course, the ring made me cry even more. I love, love, loved it. A solitaire round diamond, set high in yellow gold. Classic, and old fashioned. Perfect. Just like him.
So that’s how it went, and we walked back into Village Pizza where I shakingly presented my rock to my family, including other relatives who showed up in the interim for an impromptu celebration. My parents were busting open a bottle of wine, and the owner of the restaurant offered his congrats, hugs and kisses from everyone all around….and I was still in my sweats. Oy. So much for being low on the radar that day.
What a day. What a totally exhilarating feeling and unbelievable moment. How much I praised God, and still praise Him constantly. And still turn to Tom and say,
“Thank you SO MUCH for asking me to marry you!!”
and he always answers me the exact same way,
“Thank YOU for saying ‘yes‘.”