A few weeks ago, I had spent a full week at the hospital with my sick Mama Bear in Florida. We had found out the previous week that she has cancer, so I flew down to take care of her in the hospital. I bought a one-way ticket and wasn’t sure when I’d be heading back to Maryland (where I live). On Wednesday Caleb and I finally firmed up plans for him to come visit for the weekend. He told me he couldn’t miss any work, so he would need to take a late flight to Florida on Friday, and be home at a decent hour on Sunday. In the hospital mom and I booked his flights. Our plan for the weekend (actually, correction MY plan for the weekend… MY idea for the weekend… MY suggestion for the weekend… MY dream for the weekend…) was to go to DisneyWorld with my whole family and Caleb, the-never-been-to-Disney-ed. You have to understand something about Disney Parks and my family: my grandparents, California natives, went to Disneyland opening week. My mother was born a few years later and she grew up at the park, as did her three siblings. As they grew older and married and had their own families, Disney was always the dream vacation location. I will still never forget my first trip to Disneyland (a Christmas present for us kids). My aunts and uncles and parents saved up to take big Disney trips together, with coordinating outfits for the album pages. My aunt used to have a Disney room and her e-mail addresses over the years are always Disney related. As a child watching and hearing your parents and adults in your life so excited about Disney, and literally like giddy little children in the park, well, it’s completely contagious and particularly happy.
So, for me to want to bring Caleb to Disneyworld with my whole family, especially the little children and especiallyespecially my mom, is a huge deal to me. Not to mention facing this new season of my mom being sick, I really was begging everyone to make this trip work. My mom said she felt well enough to go, and half the kids were planning on going with friends that weekend anyway. But somehow, come Friday, everyone had backed out… including my mom. My dad insisted my little sisters not miss their soccer tournament. My brother had to work. My mom was much more tired than she thought she’d be. My other sister needed to drive soccer carpools. It just wasn’t working anymore. I didn’t want to go without them. My mom pleaded with me to go. “It would make me so happy. You’ve had a long week. Go with Caleb and enjoy it. Take lots of pictures and come back and tell me all about it.” I wasn’t convinced. I told her I’d talk to Caleb and see what he thought. When we chatted on the phone about it he was equally reluctant to go. “Man, I would almost rather just stay home with your mom and spend time with her than go without her!” But somehow my parents swayed me and I said I would ONLY go if it was absolutely what my mom wanted.
After about three hours of sleep Caleb and I loaded up and left for Orlando. Let me re-phrase that: after three hours of sleep I loaded up and Caleb slept in. (I note this not to bash Caleb… I love when he gets to sleep in! But I certainly did not expect him to sleep peacefully and well the night before he proposed.) Let me also add here one important note: I have always only wanted one thing when I got engaged, and that was to be completely surprised. I didn’t care if it was in public or private, with a big or small ring, with friends around or totally alone. I just wanted to be caught off-guard. Sweet.
Caleb and I are now at Disney. And I’m in full-out Disney mode. I got my maps. I got my schedule of events. I’m large and in charge and woman hear me roar. Coordinating fast passes, show times, our little cash budget, and pointing out all sweet little children in costumes was keeping me oh-so-busy. Not to mention smiling from ear to ear. I told Caleb half-way through the day that my cheeks hurt from smiling so hard. We were having so much fun. My mental countdown knew he was leaving in X hours and I couldn’t bear the thought. I was so happy being in such a cheery place and not in a hospital. I was so happy that mom was home and resting well. I was so happy that Caleb loved all the detailed buildings, charming employees, manicured landscaping, constant music, colorful atmosphere, and surreal mood as much as I did. We ooo-ed and awww-ed about crown molding and scalloped foot-paths and coffee ice cream floats in the French Quarter.
As they day went on Caleb and I often stopped to scout out our ideal place to watch the fireworks. He wanted to be on the side of the castle. I insisted that we be in the center of the castle. “Trust me! It’s the best view! You have to see this from the center!” then we’d skip over to Tom Sawyer’s Island or The Haunted Mansion. By dinnertime we found ourselves at Liberty Tree Tavern, my favorite restaurant in the park. Mostly because of their green beans and gravy. I LOVE THEIR GREEN BEANS SO MUCH. Caleb also happens to love good green beans. All day long I talked about the crisp, garlic-y green beans. I googled the menu to make sure green beans were still on it. I announced that I was going to order five plates of green beans. I literally brought up green beans five or six times throughout the day. Once we got to dinner I asked the waiter if the seasonal vegetable was green beans. He said “Yes, they are.” I bopped in my seat and clasped my hands together. Five minutes later Caleb looked up and noticed the food on the table next to us. “WHat! They have green beans here?!” he exclaimed. I must have given him “the” look we girls give. “Caleb. Are you seriously asking that?” I wasn’t actually annoyed, more shocked. Has he really missed that much today? How could he not remember me talking about that so often? We continued on with our meal, Caleb made multiple trips to the bathroom, I even caught him on the phone in the hallway not in the bathroom, he didn’t eat, he was acting weird and aloof. All the signs everyone tells you about ;) But I wasn’t suspicious of anything.
We left dinner and I changed plans: instead of riding a ride and then going to find a spot for the parade, lets just go to main street and get a really, really good spot:
I marched across the street and informed Caleb that this center view of the castle, off the curb, next to a garden (away from people) would be the best view of the fireworks. Aren’t I a helpful little fiance’-to-be?! He loved it. And though he had planned to do something a little different (in grass, not in a gated PERECT flower garden) he didn’t want to give anything away so he let us stay there.
We had over an hour to kill before the parade (at 9:00, followed by the lights show at 10:00, followed by the fireworks display at 10:30). I talked and asked him why he wasn’t listening to me ;) and talked some more and tried to stay warm and wondered why he was looking all around and talked and asked him if the mints he was pulling out of his pocket was really a ring. I’m a lot to handle.
The parade finally started. I asked Caleb all kinds of questions. He gave me one-word answers. I told funny jokes and he really didn’t laugh. I assumed he was tired.
And we arrive at the fireworks portion of the evening. I can hear Caleb’s heart beating violently. I think nothing of it. Instead I went into a huge rant about firework preferences. “Caleb! What is your favorite kind of firework? My favorite fireworks are the gold shimmery ones that look like willow trees! Not the ones with lots of little lines that shoot out but the soft drippy ones. Like THAT one! It’s sooOOOooo pretty! What’s your favorite kind?” He doesn’t answer, instead he’s looking over his shoulder again. “Caleb. It’s an important thing to know about your boyfriend. What is your favorite kind of fireworks?” He managed an answer: “The big ones.” I scrunch my face and start to question is answer “The big o–…” but as I started talking he scooped me up and set me over the fence, right inside the flower garden. “MY PURSE!” He told me not to worry about my purse. And that is the last thing I clearly remember for the following five minutes.
Once I realized I was leaving my purse behind I knew what was happening. I lost it. Full on ugly bawling. Quivering second-chin and smooshed-nose and sputtering, goat-like sounds. He got down on one knee. He said a few things. I don’t remember any of it.
I started to fall over and crumple. He held me up.
He asked me three times to be his wife. I had no words. I didn’t forget to say yes. I couldn’t say yes. I felt like I was about to fainting and fly and turn into a vapor. I’ve never experience so much physical reaction to a single thing. Every part of me was firing off and going ballistic. I didn’t know how to even begin to reign in the emotion. It would be like try to hold off a tornado with a spoon.
A “yes” tumbled out eventually.
Apparently the fireworks continued on, dozens and dozens of people cheered and whistled and clapped and photographed us, Lydia (who secretly flew in to photograph this!) snapped away. I didn’t hear or see any of it.
I did cry a lot, however.
And I finally “came to” as the finale started to fire away. The first thing I said was “This means I’m going to be Kristen Morris!” – two words I had never said side-by-side, out loud. I literally felt my knees knocking together. The fireworks were nothing compared to my insides. He did it. He surprised me at at Disney, in front of Cinderella’s castle. I’m still undone.
I didn’t look at the ring until well after the fireworks stopped. It’s just utterly gorgeous. The most beautiful, glamorous, lovely, special, perfect ring. He spent months making that ring happen. Five months. He worked so hard on it. He spent so many hours and nights. As much as I love that ring, I love how ardently he attended to that ring. The jeweler who finally made his dream come to life told Caleb that in 52 years of business he’d never seen a man put so much care into the ring being perfect. I stand by it: no one on earth loves as excessively and fully as Caleb does. I don’t know how he gets to be mine.
Photos by Lydia Jane Photography
The Bride-To-Be is a photographer, you can see her site here – she’s great, you should totally check her out.