We drove up to our Alma Mater, Thomas Aquinas College, where I’ve been planning to ask her; it’s a special place for both of us.
Plan A was inside the chapel, but as soon as we walked in, alas, three other people were praying, so it was a no-go. When we came out we wandered through the rose garden next to the chapel–Plan B–but I couldn’t find the right moment. At one point she held my hand and said my hands were oddly cold. I blamed it on poor blood circulation and pressed on to Plan C–in front of this lovely statue of Mary. Unfortunately there was a grounds crew worker, then a former professor who interrupted us. She began to walk toward the classroom buildings when I said, “Before we go I kinda want a picture of the chapel doors.” The doors are massive and above is a beautiful relief sculpture of the coronation with the inscription “Haec est porta caeli et domus domini” (This is the door of heaven and the house of God). Clare knew this was not a particularly good photo scene but tolerated my stupid request. I told her to walk toward the doors, “like an action shot” I don’t know.. it was all I came up with?!).
Anyways, as she walked toward the doors I followed close and got down on my knee. She was confused by the quiet and turned around wondering if I had taken the picture or not. Then she saw me on bended knee. She was in such shock that she didn’t notice the ring in my hand for a good 15 seconds. Finally, I asked her to marry me, and she made me the happiest I’ve ever been with a simple nod. Clare: I never saw it coming! Looking back there were so many signs that he had a plan that totally went over my head. For example, on the way up to Thomas Aquinas College he asked me a few times what we should do first when we got there… go to the chapel… go see the new buildings.. go to the chapel. At the time I just shrugged and said we would wing it, because I wasn’t worried about missing anything. I did wonder why the formal plan was needed, but didn’t think about it much. As Mark described, I thwarted not one, not two,but three of his plans before I finally acquiesced to taking a picture at the Chapel doors. As I was walking toward the door, I paused before I opened it and turning around, asked if he was going to take the picture. When I saw him kneeling there I was in such shock, I didn’t register what he was doing- after a confused long silence I said, legitimately dazed, “what are you doing?” and then shut up long enough for him to ask me to marry him, some of the best words I’ve ever heard! I nodded then remembered I should probably give a verbal answer so I stumbled out a “yes..” and then a more confident “yes!” and he stood up, put the ring on my finger- that was the first time I noticed the beautiful thing- such a surreal moment- I just looked at the ring and back at mark a few times, thinking it was all to good to be true! The second thing I said to my new fiance? ” I can’t BELIEVE you just did that!” He really did surprise me!