I'm writing this the day before I'll propose to Liberty. What I'm up against is a few other proposals she's already had, all of them in bad form. From the "here, I got somethin' for ya'" and tossing the box at her, to "well, I'll marry you if you're pregnant." Coming across as classier than that won't be a challenge, naturally, but that she's been proposed to before in relationships that didn't work out is causing me a little anxiety. Until now, we've transcended the problems our past relationships have had, and we are supportive of each other, kind, patient, protecting, trusting, all that 1st Corinthians 13:4 stuff oft quoted at weddings. But taking the next step is scary.
And yes, it was scary. My proposal to my ex-wife was this elaborate farce where we went out and bought the ring together, and took a trip to the woods where we both understood I intended to ask her to marry me. There was no problem with fear there, only timing. I was disappointed in the whole affair, but happy at the time to get my affirmative answer.
With Liberty, I felt my heartbeat in my chest very fast and very powerful, and wondered for a moment if I was going to have a heart attack. In the twisted logic of the moment, I was worried less that I would die, and more that my death would ruin the moment. She didn't know what was going on, just that we were going to a nice restaurant for dinner. It was too early in our relationship for an offer of marriage (although we both were mad about each other, and visions of a long and happy life together had already come up in conversation a few times), so it caught her completely off-guard.
I told her the long story of my mom's wedding ring, how it was pawned, repurchased by my grandmother, stolen from her, and given back out of guilt, and forgotten about in a box in a basement, patiently waiting to be found again. All the while, the ring was in my pocket, having been freshly shined up at a local jeweler. I told her how I had a heart to heart with my mom about her, and how she knew I'd never felt for another woman what I felt now...
"So she gave me the ring. And now I'd like to give it to you. Will you marry me?"
When she nodded ascent, the butterflies left. My heart stopped pounding in my chest. She was visibly moved, and we were both so happy that we couldn't stop kissing each other for a few minutes. It was a thing of beauty. I'd say you had to be there, but, frankly, I'm glad it was just the two of us. And the spying wait staff, who had been told ahead of time what my plan was, to guarantee us a quiet place in the restaurant.
One of the many reasons she's a keeper: I told her I would have a glass of champagne with her to celebrate, and she said no, citing my non-drinking. I made a vow to myself 16 years ago not to drink any alcohol, and in 16 years, I have not had one drink. I would have gladly suspended that for one night to celebrate with my new bride to be, but she recognized my general distaste for booze, and we contented ourselves with our sodas, and the free desserts the restaurant gave us, for choosing them for the proposal. Nice touch.
That was before Christmas, and we're still mad about each other. Our kids are attached to each other, and our relationships with each other's kids keeps getting stronger. Little Scout has accepted me as a caregiver, no longer making sure mom is somewhere nearby, letting me read her bedtime stories, and take her down for breakfast if mom is still asleep. Stacey has grown fond of Liberty, and for the first time went off with her today without me to do girl stuff. I predict good things for the future.