By the time the proposal day finally came around, there were several people who were fully aware of what was going on. (Including me. I have an unusual ability to just "figure things out"...always have.)
While I had a clue of what was happening, I did not know what his "plan" was. Somehow, I hadn't figured that out. Which is just fine with me, because at least that part of the day, which would be the most important part, was a surprise to me.
We started talking seriously about marriage months before, we had even gone as far as to talk about being engaged before the end of the year. So as far as I knew, it was going to happen at some point in 2012.
As soon as we pulled up, I noticed christmas lights strung all around the living room and suddenly realized, Nashville wasn't the plan. Instead, I walked in to hear music playing, and a candlelit table in the middle of the room. The living room had been transformed into a private dining room. S's brother, the chef, prepared a fabulous meal for us, complete with a menu on the table. I was so shocked I just got this gut feeling that this was it. I had butterflies all night.
We enjoyed all 4 courses of our meal and just had a great evening.
But, there was no ring.
A few weeks later, our big family trip to Disney was approaching and I started wondering if it would happen on that trip. SO much so that I started telling my friends, "I wonder if he's going to propose at Disney!?!"
We went to Disney. We came back home. There was no ring.
By then it was mid October and I thought, ok, Christmas or New Year's definitely. It never once crossed my mind that it would happen BEFORE Christmas.
Stephen was acting different....weird....giddy. I asked him multiple times, "What are you up to?" He repeatedly said, "Nothing's up." Because my suspicion was so great, I even told him that after we got engaged, whenever that would be, I would come back on him and ask him if he was up to something on that particular Wednesday night.
*Remember this part for later.*
I got a few tips that something was on the horizon of happening from one of my best friends and my sister. My sister, laaaaw that's another story. All I had to do was say, "I think there's a ring coming soon" and she just immediately burst out into this nervous laughter and that was ALL I needed to know to confirm my suspicion.
Stephen also left several tips during that time. One night he randomly asked me, "Did you dress cute for work today?" Of course, my response to him was just a baffled look plastered over my face followed by a "I guess...why?" "Just wondering." (Typing this now, makes it sound like I was looking waaaaay far into things and that I should've taken this as just a simple question. But it wasn't. He'd NEVER asked me that before. It was just a weird question...weird timing, and I did look into it as maybe I should be sure I start looking cute for work in case this thing happens during the day.)
The following Wednesday, we met up at church and afterwards we typically leave at the same time. On that particular night, he went back inside after I left, which he had also never done. He said he was going back in to talk to this friend Matt. Later that night I asked him what he and Matt talked about..his response, "oh, just talk." Again...NOT a Stephen Stafford answer, and again, I looked into it.
Everything was adding up, and I all of a sudden had this overwhelming feeling that he was going to propose that weekend. I had butterflies in my stomach all the way home, called my sister, she just nervously laughed during the whole conversation and admitted that S had talked to her too. To which I said, "Yeah, I'm pretty sure everybody knows by now." I started shaking uncontrollably with nerves, anxiousness, excitement. I sat in my car in my driveway a good 20 minutes before going inside. I prayed that God would help calm me then in that moment and keep me calm in the coming days, and that all the steps that S and I had taken in our relationship were all paving the way for what was about to happen leading toward the committment we would soon be making to one another. Then, I cried for a while, and then I was ok.
In my mind, I had EVERY intention it would be happening on Saturday. Because Friday was Riley's birthday and we already had a bunch of family plans for that night. Saturday was his party, but only for a couple of hours in the afternoon.
Never did I think, it would happen smack dab in the middle of a work day.
Friday, November 16th, started like any other Friday only with several extra butterflies in my stomach, thinking the ring was coming the next day.
I got to work, and within thirty minutes of being there, I knew that it was happening THAT day. Some of my co-workers were in on the plan. (Imagine that.)
Mike and Lorna came into my office, together, and awkwardly said, "we're all going out to lunch today." To which I said, "Why? We can't all go at the same time. Or do you mean, someone's going to go pick up lunch and bring it back?" (because that's usually what we do) They were insistent, that the 3 of us were going out to lunch, our boss was fine with it. Then, they both got up and walked out together. It was all very awkward.
As the morning wore on, I grew more and more nervous of what all was about to happen. Or at least what all I thought was going to happen.
Lunch time came and I was a NERVOUS WRECK. Mike, Lorna and I went to lunch...nothing happened except them giving me a hard hard time since they knew I had figured it out. They milked my nerves for all they were worth. It. Was. Torture. Nothing happened at lunch. NOTHING.
Driving back to work, Mike turned onto a road that we didn't need to be on and said, "I need to pick up something at the dry cleaners." We passed the dry cleaners. "I think we all need to take a walk in the park." UGH....
We parked the car, we all got out, I looked down the pathway and saw Stephen sitting by the fountain. I started my walk toward him thinking, this is it, this is it, this is it.
Obviously you know my answer.
Then I noticed my sweet friend Julie pop out from behind a tree from where she had been snapping pictures the entire time. *Great move S ; )
I showed off my ring, we snapped more pictures, a good time was had by all. Then I went back to work and Stephen went and got lunch on his own. Ha. True story.