Life · marriage

The New Year’s Eve That Changed My Life


We settled in on the couch next to one another as the TV popped and the VCR whirred into action. My boyfriend had planned a mystery movie he wanted us to watch.

Not mystery in the genre, but mystery in that he wanted it to be a surprise.

We were celebrating our 2nd dating anniversary and the day had already been perfect.

He had taken me to the cinema to see quite possibly the most un-romantic movie known to man – Galaxy Quest.

Then we went and walked around the grocery store to get a few last-minute items needed for the dinner he was making me.

We then returned to our friends’ house where he prepared a grilled steak dinner served by candlelight, complete with sparkling apple cider. In the middle of dinner, he took my hand and looked deeply into my eyes. The soft gleam from the candles added to the sparkle I already saw reflected in his.

He spoke of his undying love for me; he spoke of my beauty; he spoke of how these had been the best two years of his life and he can’t imagine the rest of his life without me.

OH MY GOSH, THIS IS IT!! I thought to myself. He’s going to propose!

After a few more lovely sentiments, he gently kissed the back of my hand and returned to eating his steak.

I was stunned, and tried hard not to be hurt. I forced a smile back on my face and before too long I was back in the celebratory mood.

Then came dessert.

I don’t remember what he served, but I know it was delicious and involved chocolate. Lots of chocolate.

Once again, he took both my hands in his and spoke breathtaking words that every woman longs to hear. Once again, my heart beat wildly at the thought that this just might be the moment he asks me to be his wife.

Nope.

He kissed my cheek, finished his dessert and said there was another movie he wanted to watch, but couldn’t tell me what it was.

December 31, 1999 Just hours before my life would change forever in the best possible way.
December 31, 1999 Just hours before my life would change forever in the best possible way.

At this point I had no idea what to think. I figured it was a stupid boy movie like Down Periscope of something of that ilk and he simply didn’t want to hear my protests. So, as we settled onto the couch, I was pleasantly surprised to see the beginning of the movie Hope Floats on the screen.

We watched, snuggled up, and enjoyed finally seeing the movie together, as he had been overseas on a summer exchange when I saw it in the theater.

Just as the movie reached it’s romantic climax when Sandra Bullock and Harry Connick Jr. dance to that amazing Garth Brooks song, snow and static suddenly filled the screen.

Before I could turn and ask Seth what was wrong with the tape, suddenly the snow and static cut out and there was Seth on the screen! I sat, dumbfounded, and tried to focus on what he was saying.

He was talking about how he remembered me telling him about how I sat and cried through the whole movie in the cinema because I missed him to much. He talked about how he never wanted to be apart from me again. Then he asked me to turn and face him because he had something very special to give me and something very important to ask me.

I turned and he was already on his knee, ring held up for me to see.

“Jennifer, I love you so much. Will you marry me?”

I believe my exact words were,

OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH! OH MY GOSH!

Seth maintains to this day that I never actually said, “Yes.”

As I sat there, staring at that gorgeous ring, I was full of ideals and how we were going to do this right and convinced that things were only to get better and more romantic from that day forward.

Ah, youthful naiveté.

That was 16 years ago today. Had I known then what I know now…

If I had known about all the moves, all the laughter, all the travel, all the pain and grief…

Without a doubt I would have said yes all over again.

Our marriage has been far from perfect…because we ourselves are far from perfect. But wev’e done a couple of things right: when it’s been hard, when it’s felt impossible, we’ve hung on to one another all the tighter, refusing to see the other as the enemy.

And when it’s been amazing, and unbelievable, when it’s felt humbling to be blessed to do this thing called life together, we’ve hung on to one another all the tighter, recognizing that the sweetness would be pure bitterness without the other by our side.

Seth, it’s been one heckuva crazy ride, and it doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. But I truly, madly, deeply, honestly cannot imagine anyone else I’d rather careen this roller coaster with than you.

You keep me me grounded, you remind me to breathe, you make me laugh and you inspire me to want to be a better person, a better wife, a better mom, a better friend.

I have no doubt that God brought us together and equipped us to sharpen one another through all the amazing crazy.

Thank you for asking me. And I would say yes in a heartbeat anyway of the week and twice on Sunday.

Here’s to another crazy, wild, amazing, adventurous 16 years. May they be even better than the first.

I love you.

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