After recovering from the “let me introduce you to the girl I’ve been dating” episode, Mark and I moved forward at a fast pace. I think his big duh moment was eye-opening for both of us and it quickly became clear how we felt about each other. We spent more and more time together and talked on the phone well into the nights getting to know each other on a deeper level. Conversations turned from friendly chit-chat to discussions about our families, our hopes and dreams…about marriage and children. (GULP!)
I distinctly remember a phone call from him in the early spring of 2003. He was out-of-state and was debating purchasing a new guitar. If you knew my husband, you knew he suffered from an affliction he called “G.A.S.” – guitar acquisition syndrome. What is special about this particular phone call is that he called me to ask if I thought he should buy it. This struck me as odd and exciting, because we weren’t engaged – we weren’t married…but he was testing the waters I think, deciding how it would be talking about money and purchases. So, of course I told him to buy it because I wasn’t going to flunk that test!
Before he proposed, we also traveled with a group of friends to Las Vegas that year. I think he wanted to know if he could stand being around me constantly for several days in a row. Silly guy – I’m delightful, didn’t he know? We took in shows, dinners and walked 8,000 miles together. We laughed, picked out a gift for B and enjoyed each other’s sleep-deprived company the entire trip.
We returned from our trip and spent even more time together. One night he took me on a date to the driving range because he loved golf. I swing left-handed, so I couldn’t borrow his clubs. The experiment was miserable because it turns out you can’t swing a golf club like a softball bat, but the time together was fun. Plus, I think he enjoyed trying to teach me how to swing. *wink-wink
The weeks passed and he started quizzing me about rings I liked. I think he thought he was being sly but I smelled an engagement ring coming! Then one night near Memorial Day 2004 I think it was, he took me to dinner, then back to his house where he presented me with my own set of left-handed golf clubs. In one of the pockets of the golf bag was a white box. He pulled it out, got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife. It was perfect, as proposals always are. I later learned he had planned to take me back to the driving range at night to propose there. He even had a ring box that lit up so I could see the ring. But rain foiled his plan. It didn’t matter to me – I said YES! I was going to become his wife! Dreams do come true!
We drove back to my parent’s house because we both couldn’t wait to tell them and B the good news. Although she was happy, I think it was a lot to take in as a then 8-yr-old. She couldn’t have possibly understood how the changes ahead were going to impact her in amazing ways as well.
We spent the next months in pre-marriage class, doing things as a soon-to-be family and vigorously planning a wedding. Mark took joy in being able to give us the wedding of our dreams. I think neither one of us ever imagined our dreams would come true in this way. We were over the moon excited and so grateful God had brought us together.
We settled on a December wedding. I’ve always loved the Christmas season and also the church would have their Christmas decorations up, which would save us money. I envisioned a romantic winter wedding, complete with softly falling snow. (It was 60 some degrees that December day – ha). He was involved in all decisions and was such a good sport. The only time he balked at prices was when it came to the flowers, but he paid for the red roses anyway because – he was that kind of guy. He wanted me to have the wedding of my dreams. More importantly, he wanted me to have the marriage of my dreams. And that he came through on as well.
It was so important to Mark to include B in our day. He wasn’t just promising to love and honor ME, but also her. He considered her at every turn, in every decision. He even had one of his mother’s diamonds made into a special ring he would present to her during the ceremony. He promised his heart to both of us before God and everyone we loved.
At the reception, he danced with her to “In My Father’s Eyes” by Martina McBride. Not a dry eye in the house.
We decided we would make our wedding gifts to each other. We were both sentimental, hopeless romantics and so handmade gifts seemed special to both of us. I made this for him:
His gift for me was over the top. Not surprising, right? He recorded Marc Cohn’s song, “True Companion” for me. He recorded every instrument as well as sang it. Every cymbal, mandolin rhythm, piano chord – everything. He won. Wow! And that was just the beginning of how extravagant he was in exhibiting his love for me. He tried so hard to always show me his love. I am still in disbelief as I remember all of the ways he cherished not only me, but B. He was just as excited at becoming a father to her, as he was to become my husband. Maybe more even. He was one in a million. I’ve included the full audio version of his gift to me below. I hope you’ll listen to the whole song. We never made it to the part described in the second to last verse, but we lived out the first verses for sure. Here are two short video clips of that moment:
And the full audio: [soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/297079858″ params=”auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_comments=true&show_user=true&show_reposts=false&visual=true” width=”100%” height=”450″ iframe=”true” /]
When I remember our wedding day, I am overcome with emotion. It was truly one of the best days of my life. We were surrounded by so many friends and family who were overjoyed for us and the family we had just become. Most of these people remained with us throughout our marriage, praying for us during dark times, celebrating us during life’s good times. It’s overwhelming to be the recipient of that kind of love.
Again, my words fall short when trying to tell you how my heart felt/feels (grief tense is a struggle) about Mark, his proposal to me, and our wedding day. I hope through pictures and video you gain a better understanding of what language can’t convey.
He was the love of my life. I’m forever grateful and I can’t wait to be with him again one day. Thank you, Jesus, I know this is a real and true promise I can count on. It was a beautiful life and a beautiful marriage.
Next Up: Love Story part 3…the Adoption
Don’t want to miss anything? Subscribe here.
If you’re already an email subscriber, be sure to visit the actual website today at www.extragracerequired.com so you can view the video links.