Don asked me to marry him on September 11.
Yes, that September 11.
It was our one year anniversary of dating and he had decided a long time before that he was going to ask me on that date. And I kind of suspected that he would.
So the day arrived and I was filled with a mixture of hope and anxiety. You remember what it is like just before something amazing may or may not happen but which rests firmly in the will and decision of another person? It's kind of exquisite.
We were in 1st period at the little (tiny, very small) private school where we both taught when Nikki burst into my room. "MISS H!!!!" (the kids called me Miss H) and she proceeded to speak incoherently for about 45 seconds...
[...which, at our little school of craziness was not uncommon, really. Anything could have happened, to be completely honest....]
Once Nikki calmed down a bit, we were able to understand that something really, truly bad had happened in New York and it involved an airplane and lots of death and oh my gosh, what are we going to do?
And my next thought?
Man. He's not going to ask me to marry him today...
Sue me-- I wasn't getting any younger!
Fast forward past a day full of crying, coloring books and crayons to an evening that was uncommonly beautiful in Georgia.
I will never forget that it was perfect weather. Fall was in the air-- the night was scrubbed clean of all humidity, sparkling and shining with a strong cool breeze. Don came to pick me up from my parents' house after a prayer vigil and we rode over to a park that is special to us in his red Jeep.
Holding hands, we walked down the sidewalk toward the tabernacle. We sat down on an ancient bench and waited.
Reaching around behind a 100 year old tree, Don brought forth flowers and communion.
And this man of mine, with the heart of a cowboy poet, spoke precious things to me, and then he asked me to be his wife and I made him ask me twice because it just sounded so good to my heart. The whole world could be falling down... all was well on that bench.
[...somewhere, someone rejoiced on my dark Tuesday, April 28... I cannot imagine...]
Every year since then, we do it again. We go back to "our spot" and write each other letters about what we're hoping for, for the coming year. And we read last year's letters to each other. And it's always surprising.
I couldn't find the ones from last year, but I only half-heartedly looked for them.
I was six weeks pregnant when I wrote that letter. And part of me was so afraid that it wasn't going to turn out well. Does everyone fear that with their first baby? Or only women who aren't young? I was filled with hope and with the fear of hoping. I was mixed up. And my heart always wants to break a little more when I think about how the Lord let the worst thing happen....
But then I was reminded of a couple of things this weekend. Jesus asked that the cup that He was to drink be taken from Him. And God didn't answer that prayer the way Jesus wanted Him to.
He suffered anyway. He had to. Jesus saw it. We see it now.
And another thing-- my pastor said that prayer is like a rope thrown to the dock when you're trying to pull back in. The rope serves to pull us back to the dock, not to pull the dock to us.
Oh God, I'm trying to pull myself back in to Your will.
But I cannot forget that on a day of such heartbreak, You brought the man of my heart. You blessed me in a way and to a depth that I had never thought to hope for. The whole world wept, but I was filled with a joy that could not be named.
We're together and alone in this world. But always, You are at the center of each of our worlds. Directing this symphony. Striking minor chords here and there. But always watching.
Oh God, I trust You.
And I'm going to learn to trust You more.
Thank you for September 11. And April 28. And all the other days I don't know about yet...