Read part four here
Russ and I dated for two weeks before he bought my engagement ring.
Yeah. You read that right. Two weeks. He decided to go through with it one weekend when he surprised me in Oklahoma. I had a feeling something was going on – HD had a glint in her eye & every time I saw one of my hall girls they giggled & looked away. I was downstairs in the lobby watching TV with everyone when he walked in the door.
My heart stopped. Literally. I remember the drop & kick of my heartbeat raging against my ribs. I never thought I would be one of those girls who ran to her man and jumped in his arms.
I was that night.
We hung out with everyone for a little while, but it was already nearing the closing of the dorms, so I ventured out into the cold with him in order to make it to the guy’s dorm before midnight. I started making my way towards the chapel & he pulled my hand towards him – when I looked at him, my eyes were knit with confusion. He smiled and just led me towards his car.
“I have something to show you. I brought you a surprise.”
A surprise? I could deal with a surprise. I snuggled deeper into his jacket and followed the moonlit path to the parking lot. Once we got to the car, he pulled out a book – The Moviegoer - and before I could even mutter a “thank you” he grabbed something else out of his bag. At first glance, I couldn’t tell what it was – until he pulled out two champagne glasses and gave me this incredibly endearing half smile & coupled with a slight shrug.
“I found these glasses at a garage sale a couple years ago. At the time, I just thought they looked cool – but I knew someday I would need them for a special occasion.” He looked at me out of the corner of his eye while trying to open the sparkling grape juice & said, “I figured tonight, gazing at the stars with the perfect girl, I would have the perfect opportunity.”
So we toasted to our relationship – there under the midnight stars of Shawnee, Oklahoma – our breath forming in puffs from the cold, he looked me in the eyes and said, “I’m falling in love with you. No. It’s already done. I’m not falling anymore – I’m already there. I love you.”
I giggled. I did a little hop step with my feet out of nervousness and frigid air.
“I love you too.”
And then for the second time that night, I jumped into his arms.
The rest of the weekend went by in a blur – sleepless nights a given in order to suck as much quality time as possible from his visit. On Sunday afternoon we decided to go on a walk and ended up in the campus gazebo. There was a lot of talk of the future – what we wanted, what we hoped for, how God was moving…the dreams He was placing in our hearts and how we were managing the balance of school & work & future & friends…there never was any lull in conversation with Russ. And when there was silence, it was the comfortable silence of being in the presence of one of your best friends. It felt natural.
and then I did something I had never done for anyone ever before.
I stood up and motioned for him to stand up with me. “Will you dance with me?”
He smiled and placed his arms around my waist. “What are we going to do for music?”
I didn’t even hesitate. I’m not sure what made me think of it, or what caused me to have enough courage to do it, but I started singing
When I fall in love….it will be forever….or I’ll never fall in love….
with the backdrop of the sunset it made for a magical moment. Dancing at dusk, sealing our fate with a kiss once I was done with my Nat King Cole serenade.
For a split second, I wondered if me singing to him meant as much to him as it did to me - and then I noticed his eyes misting over and a resolve take over his features. He looked into my eyes and cupped my face with his hands…
“I’m going to marry you.”
My heart crashed against itself again, begging for some mercy from the weekend’s events. But I didn’t care. As I stood there in Russ’ arms, I thought back to what I had been through in the last year. Heartbreak. Loss. Depression. Fear. Healing. Restoration. Hope. Redemption.
And now…true love. Something I had never felt before – like falling into a warm embrace and feeling completely comforted and wanted and needed and cared for…it was absolutely beautiful. And for the first time, I wasn’t worried about the how or the why or the what. For the first time, I was excited about my journey ahead.
Russ left that weekend and immediately started looking for a ring. I knew he was asking about what I wanted, and I knew we talked a bit about getting engaged and wedding dates, but I had no idea just how serious he was about everything.
On Easter weekend, I went to visit my family and stopped to see Russ. We went to the mall and he led me into some jewelry stores, and I tried on rings with my hands shaking and nervous laughter and giddy smiles but Russ had something already up his sleeve.
He had already bought the ring.