I had this post all worked out for weeks. I was going to title it, “Hell has Frozen Over,” or “The Day Hell Froze Over.” I was going to tell you that this was the happiest day of my life. And it is. But I’m also grieving. This weekend was the emotional equivalent of being a pair of old socks tumbling around the clothes drier.
Let me back up, I had it all planned. I bought a ring. Not A ring. I bought THE Ring. I started sneaking off to the jeweler before Thanksgiving and picked up The Ring on Wednesday. Christmas morning, we were going to wake up, I would make coffee, she would be sitting on the couch. The remnants of our Christmas Eve dinner party would still be on the table. Taper candles burned down to stubs. A few forgotten wine glasses lingering by crumpled linen napkins we had bought to try to make it fancy. Champagne I “accidentally” never got around to serving in the fridge. She would open my gift, a photo album slash scrapbook of our two years together. The story of us. Blank pages at the end, a promise for more to come. The last page of pictures would end with my proposal. She’d look up and I would be down on one knee. She would say yes and we’d both cry.
That part mostly happened. I did have her open her album on Christmas morning and I was down on one knee at the right time, but she only said yes after we both started crying and the longest 15 seconds of my life had passed.
But there was no party for Christmas Eve. The day before, Erika had taken our dog Brady to the vet. He’d been having allergies and kept coughing his furry little head off. His breathing was heavy. We’d been trying to take him for weeks but vets’ offices are overburdened after everyone adopted pets during lockdown last year and we couldn’t get an appointment.
So we finally got him in with a new vet out on Long Island. Only it turns out it wasn’t his allergies that had him cough- cough-coughing. His little heart is failing and his lungs have been filling up with fluid. The vet, who seemed fresh out of school, wouldn’t give me a time frame but said the cardiologist will after he has an echo.
There was no party and no champagne. It hurt too much and we have to keep him calm and my family is anything but calm. We cried a lot and scolded ourselves for crying while telling each other to just let it out.
I’ve been taking the news poorly. I am extremely bonded to Brady and I thought we were still in the middle not near the end. Every moment, Erika has shown what an amazing partner she is. She lets me cry while reminding me that we don’t know anything yet. She holds me while I hold him. She understands that I am losing my mind not knowing if we have a few months or a few years. I know a lot of it is shock.
Another thing that wasn’t part of the plan. I sat there on the couch, next to my newly minted fiancée, on Christmas morning. I had just finished opening the presents she gave me. A new cotton bathrobe that I could wear despite the Saharan temperatures of our apartment and fancy perfume that I would never buy myself but would wear every day.
I don’t remember the words she said. I don’t remember how she did it. But suddenly she was holding a little box containing the most beautiful ring I’ve ever seen and I was squealing. She had bought me a ring - not a ring - The Ring- and had been planning to pop the question herself!
My heart is full and my little family is warm. We’ve been going back and forth between excitedly planning our wedding and worriedly caring for Brady. We don’t know what the next few months will be I do know that there is no one I would rather have holding my hand through it. And no one I am more excited to spend my life with.