47: The Question

47: The Question

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Empowered Woman

The Question

When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.

~From the movie When Harry Met Sally

The year was 1988. My boyfriend and I had known each other more than two years. We’d even met each other’s parents. It was the summer after we finished grad school. Chris and I had mentioned marriage a few times, but I had said honestly I wasn’t ready. His friends advised him that if I didn’t want to marry him that he should move on. But still he waited.

It is odd to realize that a misdialed (or perhaps crank) phone call set our lives down their current path. On a crowded Friday afternoon, I struggled through rush hour to dinner at my parents’ house. Before leaving, I had called my parents to tell them I was on my way. This was something I never did. I tried to avoid road rage as traffic crawled along.

Everything turned upside-down when I arrived at the house. Hesitantly, my parents gave me the news. Chris’s mother had called them shortly after I had. She had received a call informing her that her son and his girlfriend had been killed in a car crash.

I sat, stunned. Chris was at work, which was why he hadn’t come with me. Maybe he’d had to drive somewhere. Maybe a co-worker was with him. It made no sense. I sobbed as I realized that this was the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with.

Before I could get my own thinking together enough to call him at work just to check, his mother called us. She had finally been in touch with him. It was a false alarm. Relief flooded through me. It didn’t matter how upset Chris was that his mother had yelled at him as if it were his fault she’d believed the story of an unknown caller. I was just glad that he was still around.

And then it occurred to me that Chris had tested the waters several times to see if I would accept if he proposed. My answers had not been encouraging, but it meant that he wanted to marry me and was willing to wait around.

I tried bringing it up again to let him know I was ready to say “yes,” but I just couldn’t figure out how. Tact had never been one of my fortes. He was completely unhelpful in all of this. He didn’t understand because all through that fateful afternoon, he’d been hard at work at his office. Nothing earthshattering had happened.

The only way we were ever going to get engaged was if I turned the tables and proposed to him. To make sure he knew I was serious, I decided to get a ring. Trying to figure out what kind of ring to give a guy while I proposed was nearly impossible. There were no guidelines, no tradition. I remembered he liked onyx and ordered a custom ring.

Finally, ring in hand, I had to decide the how and when. Chris was not a romantic. I didn’t want to set something up and have him think I was expecting a proposal. Once I had that ring, I was the one who was going to do the proposing. I envisioned returning to the restaurant of our first date, but realized that I didn’t want to ask him in public.

Unable to stand the stress and suspense any longer, I nervously pulled out the box with the ring one evening while I was at his place, still unsure of exactly what I was going to say.

“Yes,” he said, seeing the box.

“I didn’t even ask you anything.”

He put on the ring. “Yes, I’ll marry you.” It was as if he’d been waiting all this time for me to pop the question.

A short time later, he got me an engagement ring — I actually got to pick it out. We set a date, and everything else followed all of those typical wedding traditions. Just because we found our way to the path of engagement and married life a little differently didn’t mean that we couldn’t hope for a happily ever after, just like everyone else.

~D.B. Zane

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