Reagan and I met on my 21st birthday. It was a blind date, and he took me to lunch - along with the lady who had set us up. She'd tried to fix me up with a couple other guys before him and I always said no. But, this time I agreed, and we all had lunch together. About a week later, he and I started talking on the phone. We also prayed together that night and every night after until we married.
We dated for a little over a year before he asked me to marry him. He was 25 and I was 22. We were just kids.
I knew very early on that he was the kind of guy I'd marry. It took him a little longer to admit I was the girl for him.
On March 1, 1996 he called me at work and asked if I'd like to go out for a nice dinner that night. I said that I would. It wasn't unusual for us to eat out together several times a week. We actually saw each other almost every night. So, going out to eat dinner was not something unique. However, the place he wanted to take me was a little nicer than where we usually went on our dates. But, it was somewhere we'd talked about going for some time, so I really never suspected he was up to anything by taking me there.
We enjoyed a delicious dinner and then later headed back to his house because he said he wanted me to see something he had recorded on his VCR. (That dates us, I know.) So, we went back to his house and began watching the program he had recorded. As far as I could see, there was nothing that exciting about what he was showing me. Looking back, I'm pretty sure he was stalling and had no other excuse to get me back to his house at that time of the night. Eventually, I turned to him and asked, "What is it specifically that I'm supposed to be watching for in this show?"
He turned the television off then turned to face me. He began telling me how he loved me and would never leave me no matter what we faced. It was all really sweet. To be honest, I don't remember everything he said, but I do remember thinking, "Why in the world is he telling me all these things? It's not like him to talk like this." I was completely clueless as to what he was about to do.
You see, I knew him well enough to know that he takes big decisions in his life very seriously. He takes his time when purchasing anything. He researches and examines everything almost to a fault. We'd only been dating for a little over a year, and I was still finishing my degree while also working. What he said and did next was a surprise to me.
He reached into his pocket and handed me a key. It was a car key. Then he said, "I want you to know I'm handing in my key." Of course, I thought he meant his car key, but I had no idea why in the world he was handing in his car key, and why was he giving it to me. I just looked at him like, "WHAT in the WORLD are you talking about?" But I said, "Are you getting a new car?"
He said, "No, I'm handing in the key to my heart. To you."
Then, he got down on his knee in front of me and said, "Bear with me, I've never done this before."
Guess what I did. I started shaking and crying and laughing and said, "Oh, my goodness! Oh, my goodness!"
He said, "Will you marry me?"
I was crying, laughing, trembling, and I just hugged him.
But I forgot to answer him.
He said again, "Well, will you?"
I said, "Yes."
He then pulled out a ring and put it on my finger. I never even thought to look at it until he started telling me about how much time and effort the had put into picking it out. I had no hand in choosing my ring as some girls do. He had asked me at one time what style of diamond I liked and I told him. He'd also tried to get me to look at rings once in the mall, but I kept telling him I didn't want to. (Just in case you're wondering, he didn't get it in the mall. He visited a number of jewelers before buying from a local shop.) I don't know why, other than I just wouldn't allow myself to believe that we were at that point in our relationship. It wasn't that I didn't think I'd marry him. I just didn't think he was ready for that.
So, that night, 16 years ago today, he chose me.
And still, given all that life has brought, all the imperfections he knows are in me, all the opportunities he's been faced with where he's had to forgive me - he still chooses me.
Our marriage has been anything but perfect. I'm so far from the girl whose hand he slipped a ring on in his living room that night all those years ago. But he's grown into a man that is everything he promised to me he'd be that same night.
I'm so glad he asked. And I'm thankful I was smart enough to say "Yes."