[You can read Chad’s version of the story here.]
We were both working late on Tuesday night (or so I thought) and I had decided to order pizza from a Domino’s Groupon, then we were going to test drive a Prius in Bellevue. My roommate, Sabina, had called earlier from her mom’s house, wondering if she had left her cell phone at home and if I was close to home and could get some numbers out of it for her. I told her I was still at work and we had a pretty full night but I would check later if I went home.
Chad texted at around 6:30 PM and said to cancel the pizza and just meet him at my house. I thought it was kind of strange since generally we eat dinner at his house but didn’t think too much of it. I assumed that he just wanted more time at the dealership or something. (Which, would someone like to give us a car? His beloved Jetta is dying a quick and painful death.) So I went out to my car and drove home. I did have one moment on Dodge where I wondered if he would propose, and with Dautry’s “Home” playing on the radio, I touched up my makeup while sitting at a stoplight. I texted Chad right before I got home and he said he was on his way. At this point any thoughts of him proposing totally flew out of my head – he wouldn’t be running late for his own proposal.
I went upstairs to look for Sabina’s phone and saw an iPad box on my bed. Chad and I had talked before about rings and how they’re beautiful and amazing and I really do want one, but how they’re also super expensive and really kind of stupid and they don’t even do anything like wash your dishes for you, and Chad joked that maybe he’d just get me an engagement iPad. (thanks to Anna Landis for inspiring this conversation) So at that point I knew this was it. !!!!!
But then I started to panic because we were supposed to meet at my house, and I didn’t know if I was supposed to have seen the iPad box already or if I was ruining the surprise or what. So went downstairs to the front porch to see if Chad was there yet. I then realized that I am a really bad fake-surpriser, and I would never be able to pretend like I hadn’t seen the iPad already. I went back upstairs and got the box and took it out to the porch to wait for Chad to get there.
I sat on the porch realizing that I was about to be proposed to. I also thought about how I probably shouldn’t have picked this morning to not take a shower. Oh well. The sun was shining and the breeze was blowing and birds were chirping. It really was a perfect moment, holy almost, and I knew I’d want to remember it.
Chad texted and asked where I was, and I replied with “on my porch.” He told me to go up to my room and I texted back that I had already been there and had an unopened box on my lap. He told me to open it.
I opened the box and saw a pink sticky note heart (which could have only come from my roommate – thanks, Sabina!) telling me to open the iPad. An iBook started playing when I opened it; the cover was a bridge, and on page 2 I read:
“Miss Anna Katherine Detrich,
I know you have been waiting for this day for a long time; I pray that it is even more than you ever dreamed it could be.
I love you. I want to record some of the reasons I love you so that you can have, hold, and cherish them because I imagine that is exactly what you will want to do.
Even though you are a speed reader, my suggestion is that you read slowly, I would not want you to miss anything…
Be still my heart. The tears started to fall and I realized I’d better stop taking pictures and pay attention.
At the end of January, Chad had asked if I would send him proposal ideas that I did/didn’t like. So over the course of February, I sent him 15 emails with two ideas each – one true and one false, accompanied by pictures. #3 & #4:
“I would enjoy a picnic with you. Especially if there was a ring (or twist tie) in a little tupperware in the picnic basket. And really especially if it was awesome 1985 like this picture.
Please do not hire Ben and his buddies to fly over with their jets and a skywriting message.
With some design help from one of my oldest and dearest friends, Chad had interwoven those emails and pictures into the iBook, each followed by a response from him like this one:
“I have watched your love for small containers, and for smaller containers inside of small containers. I do not know if I will ever understand why this is cute. I do smile and think of you every time you pack my lunch with small containers inside other containers, and I picture you lovingly assembling this delicious montage with love and care. This is another reason I love you, you put tremendous love and effort into even the small things and I will enjoy eating the fruits of your labor because I know that will delight your heart. It also delights mine.
I will not propose with the Blue Angels skywriting my proposal, although that would be sweet! When I think about asking you to marry me, in my heart and in my head it does feel like the Blue Angels writing out the message and then doing an extremely low and loud fly over. I hope I have accomplished stilling the fireworks inside and translating them to a still and quiet moment that is the beginning of our life.
And so it continued like that. 8 pages of laughter and tears later in the midst of #19 & #20, I discovered an email that Chad had sent my parents back in November, asking to spend time with them with the end goal of figuring out if he wanted to marry me, and his reflections on his secret trip to Chapman in January:
“And it was exactly the beautiful disaster you’d imagine it to be. …
Ah yes, I can imagine. I had NO idea that he went to Chapman. Looking back, I sort of remember communication during that “work trip to Minnesota” being a bit disjointed, but definitely never expected him to be in Kansas with Mom and Dad. Oh, to been a fly on that on that awkward wall.
I kept reading.
“Smile of my heart, I love you because you are often a reflection of God. Like holding you on a warm summer picnic; still, calm, next to a pond, I glance down at our reflection and see God holding me instead of me holding you. Both are true.
I am amazed at the grace and love that God has shown me through you. I told you emphatically, repeatedly, I would never date you. Looking back now I think I picked those fights so that I could continue to be in your presence. You exercised extreme grace and restraint, you let my words wound you and you did not strike back at me, you patiently waited, never pointing out my folly. I saw God and knew I was wrong, and I knew you were His servant. God has often dealt with me in thi way, but this time when He chose to manifest a physical personification of His and my relationship in you, it broke me. I cried and I still do; in my broken, shattered opposition to Him was left my love for you. …
The mountain I am moving is the only thing I have in this entire world, the only thing I will ever possess, my name. It may not seem like much, but other than being a child of God, it is the only thing I am, and I am asking you to share it with me. I am only my name, but you have a choice. Will you share it with me? Will we be known together, by that name?
This is the moment and I can’t imagine being here with anyone else.
When I read that I looked up and heard a knock on the door behind me, and saw Chad inside my living room, down on one knee, all decked out in his suit, holding a ring. It wasn’t his original plan for me to ever take the iPad out on my porch, but it worked out perfectly, because he could watch me read through the iBook and got to see my reaction to everything. (He had been hiding in Sabina’s closet while I was roaming around upstairs.)
He unlocked the door and I went in and threw my arms around him. He said,
“Anna Katherine Detrich, will you marry me?
Yes. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes!!
We went back outside and sat in the sunshine and laughed and cried and stared at my gorgeous custom ring and looked at the rest of the book together. Chad had solicited our families and closest friends to send pictures and words of blessing to be included in the book. Haiku from my father, a recipe from his mom, prayers from our friend Sharon, and pages and pages of well wishes from those who love us most.
“I’ve watched you grow,
watched his eyes when they watch you.
You have peace with him.
“Chad, you’re the face that I’ve been praying for ever since Anna was a baby.
“Mix well, bake in a loving home, and serve large generous portions every day.
“Team Burton is cheering loudly for the future Team Wastell!
“I would welcome you into the family but it feels as if you have been a part of this family for a long time.
“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
“I love all the porch swing, slipper slide, girl scout cookie, playing Barbie memories.
“Something strange will happen, the fluff is soon blown off the situation, the real stuff emerges, God works, and something of eternal significance happens.
“I couldn’t have picked a better match for my dearest friend!
“You are so many things, Anna. You are God’s unique compilation of strengths and weaknesses. I love how you shine for Him.
“This partnership is already blossoming and affecting many, and I have a feeling it is but a start to many exciting years ahead.
“Teach us to forget ourselves and live for and in each other, that we may truly become one.
We are so blessed to have so many great people cheering us on.
Hello, beautiful ring! I love how it sparkles and shines and how I can’t stop staring at it.
Then we went to Spezia for dinner and proceeded to be super happy and obnoxious. I felt kind of bad for the poor couple behind us – they heard our story about 47 times as we called all our friends and family.
I’m engaged, people! Crazy.
I love everything about my proposal story. I love how creative Chad was. I love how my iBook is such a great combination of our hearts and our love for each other. I love that I got to be totally caught off guard and surprised. I love Chad’s part of the story in all of this – it’s just the awesome combination of ideas, procrastination and God moving that you’d expect it to be. I love that our friends and family got to be involved a little, even though they had to wait for months and months. Thanks for your patience. It wasn’t always easy to wait (believe me). But it was all worth it.
It was perfect.
And it’s on Facebook, so you know it must be real.