It occurred to me tonight as I was rocking Holden to sleep (the only chance I get to reflect on life these days, it seems), that it was 10 years ago this weekend Kyle proposed to me.
Now I’m going to tell you something that not many people know: I told him no.
I was a mess. I thought I was too young. I had so much I wanted to do before I got married. I wanted to live abroad, learn French, be awesome. We had dated on and off for an entire (dramatic) year but at the time, we were dating long distance and I was also tentatively wondering if a guy I dated in high school was still interested in me after being on a two-year mission for our church. (It’s embarrassing to admit that now because it shows me for the jerk I was, but to leave it out would be witholding a big piece of the story, and it’s important for me to tell the truth. Even when the truth is that I suck.) Anyway, like I said, I was a mess.
Kyle was so sweet when he proposed and I felt like the biggest tool, but I hadn’t been expecting it and I didn’t know what to do. I felt like saying yes would make me a giant fraud. I remember just sitting there and staring at the ring for what felt like hours, but it must have only been a minute or two. I could feel the disappointment radiating off him—it’s not exactly how a guy pictures his proposal going. I hated hurting his feelings, but I just couldn’t say yes.
That was a Saturday afternoon. The next day was Sunday morning, October General Conference weekend of 2006. We watched the morning session together in the basement of the house 25 year-old Kyle had just bought a few months earlier, but it was awkward and weird. (I was living in Arizona at the time and had come up to Canada to visit, not knowing he’d propose, and when I said no I thought about trying to get an earlier flight home but I didn’t want to add insult to injury. Looking back though he probably wished I would have…who wants to spend the next two days with a girl who just sucker punched you in the proverbial gut?) Anyway, during one of the conference talks I got a phone call from my sister: my beloved grandpa had gone into the hospital, he’d taken a turn for the worse and she just wanted to let me know, in case I wanted to try to get home sooner.
After I hung up the phone I told Kyle the situation. We looked online but because of how far away the airport was and the timing of the flights, I wouldn’t be able to catch one that day. I decided to get the first one out the next morning instead. So we settled back in to finish watching conference but I couldn’t concentrate. My mind was racing. I just kept thinking of my grandpa, and how weird it was that we probably wouldn’t have him much longer, and how short life was and how much I loved Kyle and what was I waiting around for, I knew I would never be able to let him go for good, I’d tried and failed (like I said, I thought I was too young to get married), but I always kept coming back to him, like some sort of weird Kyle addict, he was my grounding force when I was in trouble, he always helped me solve my problems, there was nothing he couldn’t do, I could count on him one thousand percent, and dammit I loved him.
My heart pounded hard in my ears, but I knew what I had to do. When conference ended I went to give him a hug, and I just kept hugging him because I was so scared. I knew when I let go the course of my life would change forever. But finally I worked up my courage to pull away.
“Remember yesterday?” I asked.
He looked at me like I was an idiot. “Of course I do.”
“Will you ask me again?”
“I’m serious. Will you ask me again?”
I paused. I hadn’t expected that. (What did I think, that he would fall all over himself to try again after I’d hurt him so badly the day before?) I did the only thing I could think of. I begged.
“Why, so you can say no again? No way.”
“You really need to ask me again.”
“Are you going to say no?”
“Don’t be stupid, why would I want you to ask me again if I was going to say no, do you think I liked doing that?” (Leave it to me to pick a fight with someone while trying to get him to propose to me.)
We carried on like that for awhile, but finally he relented, and this time I told him what he’d wanted to hear all along. I would marry him.
Our long distance international engagement lasted a year, and it was not without its struggles. (Drama follows me wherever I go, I can’t help it. It’s a disease. Of the head. I’m truly very ill.) But we made it.
Before I met Kyle the longest I’d ever dated someone was four months. We’ve now been together for eleven years, and that boggles the mind. October is significant to me: not only has it always been my favourite month of the year, but also it marks the month we met, the month (a year later) we got engaged, and the month we finally got married.
When the leaves begin to turn colours I find myself waxing nostalgic. I look at Kyle through the eyes of my nineteen year-old self (just a baby!) who had met him for the first time, and craved his infectious laugh. I see him how I did back then, as my protector, my rock, and the sweetest guy I’d ever known. How completely I came to trust him with my life, how I somehow knew he’d never let me down.
In the fall I remember these things and I fall in love with him all over again.