Saturday, August 12, 2006

Come what may (verse two)

I was down on one knee, holding the ring out before me. I had just asked Valerie to marry me, and she was sitting there in stunned silence, her hand covering her mouth and her eyes brimming with tears. She nodded her head until she could catch her breath, and then finally said out loud: 'Yes.' The lobby burst into applause as I slipped the ring onto her finger, and I can remember the people on the second and third level balconies leaning over and looking down on us with smiles.

After the concert, we had dinner at a fancy french restaurant, and then went over to a hotel to check into a suite that I had reserved just for the occasion. I had arranged for roses, chocolate-covered strawberries, and champagne to be already in the room waiting for us. Valerie was beside herself, still trying to take it all in. I jokingly said that Plan B had involved me popping the question on the Jumbotron between innings at a Phillies game.

We set a date and got started on all of the details of the wedding planning. We were married at the main chapel at Villanova just after Christmas in 2002. Brendan was the ringbearer and after we had exchanged our vows, the priest gathered the three of us together for a special blessing. The day was filled with joy and promise.

Valerie moved in and we began to redecorate the house room by room so that it would start to become ours together. We quickly came up with a good way to split up the routine chores, based on each of our strengths and weaknesses. We made it a point to travel to someplace new each year to get some time away for just the two of us. We were very much in love and committed to growing together with each passing day. It was the most content that I had felt in a very long time.

* * * * * * * *
I was sitting alone in Valerie's office, her laptop open before me. It was almost three years to the day after we had first met. I had just discovered an email and was sitting there in stunned silence, my hand covering my mouth and my eyes brimming with tears. I shook my head until I could catch my breath, and then finally said out loud: 'No...'