On the 7th of October I found myself on the Mountain to Sea Trail in Asheville, NC. I had a small bouquet of wild flowers in one hand and a diamond ring in the other. I had lied to Charity about being at Orphee et Eurydice, an Opera in Chicago the night before, in order to fly down to South Carolina without any detection. I went behind her back to make arrangements with our families to have an engagement party. And lastly, I kept back my excitement about the details of the next time we would see each other. I was a monster: sneaking around and lying. Thoughts of doubt, excitement, fear, and love passed through my head while waiting to see Charity and her sister running toward me. A few people passed me; one stopped and told me not to do it. I got frustrated waiting for them to come to me so I ran ahead knowing they would be running toward me, I would finally get this question off my chest after a month of planning and several fake proposals which entailed me tying my shoes or “proposing questions.”
Then it happened. A dozen yards ahead of me she crest the hill. Her smile turned to disbelief at what she thought see saw. I went down to one knee. She stopped. I got up to run the rest of the distance between us. Then, went down on one knee again and said some things, some thing sweet, I’m sure. After twisting her arm and getting the ring on pleading with her, she said yes. I also apologized that I actually didn’t watch Orphee et Eurydice but rather got on a plane.
We had a great weekend with our families and celebrating this precious time in our lives. We are still in disbelief that this is real. I like feeling in love, especially with Charity. She’s so sweet and fun. I haven’t found anyone who doesn’t find joy in her presence. Sometimes I feel like a troll beside her because of how fun and beautiful she is compared to my brooding self.
Leaving her to come back to school is proving to be more challenging the more we know and love one another. Having a long distance relationship is difficult especially when we encounter hardship in our day-to-day lives. That proved to be true the last three weeks in the wake of the death of a friend and professor, Fr. Westberg. I am currently enrolled in a class with him and had shared a lot of meals together; we even went sailing a few times together. His death stirred up a lot of emotions and feelings. I’ve felt confused at the mixture of emotions concerning our engagement and new life together with the sobering reality of death in this world.
I have been able to grieve as one with hope. The hope of the resurrection flies in the stench of death. While we still feel the pain of loss, we let the pain wear away at our delusions of grandeur. Death reminds us of our finitude, while Jesus who trampled down death by death shows us that the way of life goes into and through death itself toward eternal life.
This hope puts into perspective our forthcoming marriage into a different light. The meaning of marriage is not merely a means of getting tax benefits but rather a means to die daily to oneself for the sake of the other in order that we might become like Christ. The meaning of marriage, when shared, gives way to endless giggling, laughing, tears, exhaustion, frustrations, confusion, shared interests, and endless friendship. I’m stoked to grow old with Charity. I feel like seeing the end of a life so dear to me is allowing me to not take for granted the soft warm smile of my lover knowing that we have so much more to learn from one another.