Chapter 12: Will You?
The transplant was still six weeks away, and another infection landed Herb in the hospital for a long weekend "getaway." By this point, Herb was just a comfortable in a hospital bed as he was at home. Lancaster General was Herb's Club Med. He was concentrating on getting better, or at least maintaining functionality until the transplant, and was managing to stay very positive about he whole ordeal.
I however, was focused on my ring finger - or the lack of jewelry on said finger.
He sat in the hospital bed, watching "Law and Order," I cleared my throat. "Do you still want to get married?" I asked with hesitation.
"Of course I do," Herb answered. "I'm kinda occupied these days if you didn't notice."
"I just thought you said we'd get engaged in the fall, and I wasn't sure if you meant like when marching band was over, or when the semester was over, or when the fall season was officially over. I just feel like it's getting close to the end of fall and we're not engaged."
In true realist-Herb fashion he replied, "Fall's not over yet, is it?"
"No...." The lump formed in my throat and tears stung my eyes. "I guess I just wanted to make sure you still wanted to marry me."
"Of course I do!!" Herb reassured me with a hand squeeze and a smile.
As soon as his infection was on the road to recovery, Herb was released from the hospital, and he spent the next three days doing lots of work. He procured a diamond ring from his parents, he made an appoint with a jeweler to have the diamond reset, he called my parents, and had dinner with each of them individually.
And of course, I knew about each of these things each step of the way. Herb and I are both HORRIBLE at secrets from each other. We just get so excited! I mean seriously, I practically knew what my ring was going to look like because Herb wanted to tell me all about it after he designed it.
One thing we agreed on was that he would surprise me with the actual proposal.
Ironically, this huge milestone in our lives was about to take place, and the time of year was again Thanksgiving. To recap: Thanksgiving 2003, I realized he was the man of my dreams. Thanksgiving 2004, we had been broken up but decided to get back together. Would Thanksgiving 2005 include an engagement?! In all of our discussions, even though I new the ring was finished, Herb told me I would not be getting a ring before the actual holiday (much to my dismay, I wanted to be the center of attention at the big family meal, or better yet, maybe he could pop the question at the dinner table!!).
On Saturday morning, November 26, Herb picked up the ring from the jeweler. I was spending the weekend at his parents house, but had to go to a bridal shower that morning. I knew while I was gone he would probably go get the ring (it was the only time we were going to be apart).
His plan was to hold on to the ring until Monday night. On Monday night, we would be at Wind Ensemble rehearsal and he planned to tell the band he had an announcement, come to the podium and propose tot he first chair clarinet player in front of all her peers and closest friends.
But on Saturday night, we went out to dinner, and the ring was practically burning a whole in his pocket. The knowledge of his having the engagement ring in his possession was affecting us as if we were Golum and the engagement ring had a special power over us. We sat there saying, "Maybe we should just get engaged right now over fried chicken." "But no, that would be a terrible story." "Oh whatever, let's just do it." "Yeah, who cares." "No, we should wait." We went back and forth like this all night, the suspense was killing both of us.
Side note: Our friends, Justin and Steph, had recently got engaged on a hot air balloon ride with the proposal being written below on the ground. It was amazingly romantic, and thus, Herb felt a lot of pressure to have a "good story." I kept trying to tell him it didn't matter how we got engaged, because whatever he did would be our story.
Somehow, we restrained ourselves on Saturday. At the end of the day, Herb hooked himself to his dialysis machine, and I resigned myself to the guest room next door. As I fell asleep in the loft bed, gazing up at the glow in the dark stars that were on the ceiling three feet from my face, I couldn't help but imagine all the different scenarios of proposal that Herb might have been planning.
I drifted off to sleep but soon heard, "Michelle, wake up."
I turned over, and there stood Herb. His stood eye level with my head on the loft, and the sun was just beginning to pierce the darkness outside.
"Oh, hey," I said groggily. "What are you doing here?"
"I can't sleep."
"Why not?" I was panicked, "Are you okay?"
"No...my heart is bursting." Herb said with a smile.
I sat up (as much as I could in my three foot crawl space).
"I've been up all night. I know this isn't a great story, but I can't wait anymore... And I thought this is fitting because it's morning and neither one of us will look great right now, and if we can love each other with messed up hair and bad breath we can love each other anytime. But the morning is significant because it's a new beginning. And also, I want to spend all my mornings with you. I really love you."
He brought his hand up to the loft and opened up the antique looking green box with a gold clasp. Inside was the most shiny platinum and diamond creation I had ever seen. The metal was so lustrous that I couldn't tell where the band stopped and the diamonds started.
"Do you like it?" He asked with tone that told me he was so proud of the way he designed it.
"Yes, it's beautiful!"
"Well? Do you want it? You didn't say anything," Herb questioned.
"But, Herb, you didn't actually ask me anything," I said with a laugh.
"Oh, yeah, well...will you have me?"
I moved my "True Love Waits" ring to my right hand. Herb slid the engagement ring on my finger, and it fit as if it was created just for me (and it was!).
I came down from the loft, and we hugged and kissed. It was 6:30 am.
At this point, Herb's parents came out from their bedroom and took our picture. His mom said, "I can't believe you did this right now." I think she expected a "better story" from him. I thought it was perfectly romantic.
"I would love to keep celebrating," Herb interrupted, "but I actually have one more cycle of dialysis to finish before I get up."
Herb got back into bed and hooked himself up to the machine, and I called my parents.
That morning, Herb and I were on the worship team at church with my brother and his girlfriend (my bestie). When we got there, I turned my ring backwards as to hide the diamond. At the time of the service where people shared praise reports and prayer requests, Herb and I got up and said we had one of each. We asked for prayers over the upcoming kidney transplant and shared our praise -
"We got engaged this morning!"
Jocelyn squealed, and then got mad for not telling her earlier, and then squealed again.
It was an awesome morning.