It was Christmas Eve 2005. That little hiccup of a separation was more than two years behind us. I had graduated from college a year early and was well into my first year as a first grade teacher. Eddie was finishing up his final year in the engineering program at the University of Maryland. He came with me to the Christmas party that my Aunt Cathi hosts every year.
We sat in a semi-private corner in the crowded living room, close together on an overstuffed love seat, and started exchanging our gifts to each other. I don’t remember what I gave him. If I had to guess I’d say it was probably something pretty lame, like a sweater or a DVD.
He handed me a shoe box, wrapped so that the lid lifted off easily. I looked inside and saw a teddy bear holding a simple white gold band with a solitary diamond.
I looked at him, confused because he wasn’t saying anything. “Is this for real?”
He showed me the white piece of paper that was taped to the lid of the gift box. Somehow I had missed it. Now that it had been pointed out to me I could read the poem he had written himself. It asked the question for him:
“How did five and a half years go by so fast when it feels like an eternity
Since we fell in love together and became “us,” not just you and me…
…And so I ask this question with an everlasting guarantee
I’ll love you forever and ever. Will you marry me?”
Of course I said yes. (By the way, that little piece of paper is now framed and displayed prominently in our home. I’ll show it to you the next time you come over.)
The following September, in the middle of a hurricane that forced us to cancel our rehearsal dinner and threatened to flood out the restaurant where we were holding our reception, we said “yes” to each other all over again.
Meanwhile, 1,000 miles away in a homeless shelter in Tampa there was a woman who was entering into her second trimester of pregnancy. She was carrying a baby we would not meet for more than two more years. She was carrying our son.
Eventually he joined us, his Forever Family, and we gave him two forever sisters.
And we would all live happily ever after.
Happy Father’s Day, Eddie!