Chad and I started dating in July of 2005. When I recently returned home from a two week vacation with my grandparents, I pulled up to my front steps to find him waiting on my porch with a black and white kitten. He asked, "Will you be my girlfriend?" It was cute, as was the little kitten we named Oreo. How could I say no? I was 20 yrs old and don't think anyone had actually asked me that question since I was still sporting braces. About a year before I met Chad, I had starting having heart issues. I had weakened the muscles around my heart, which made me very prone to physical anxiety attacks. Any amount of adrenaline would send me into a full blown fit. I would hyperventilate and pass out randomly, so I couldn't handle stress of any kind. I began taking medication for it, which worked but also made me numb to feelings of anxiousness, happiness or joy. It was the only option I could see at the time.
Our relationship was comfortable from the very beginning. I didn't feel like I had to do anything to impress him, and there were never those moments of awkward silence. He didn't care that I took anxiety medication. I am a bit of a drama queen, but he always knew just what to say or do to make any situation better. I had completely stopped taking the medication within three or four months.
We weren't together a month when he casually asked, "So. Will you marry me?" The first couple times it took my breath away because I was scared to death he was about to produce a ring and I would really be faced with having to come up with an answer. Over the course of three years, Chad became very creative with his proposals. Sometimes he would ask me in a restaurant and all the people around us would applaud and ooh and ahh. Sometimes he would ask in a bar on the dance floor, where several couples swirling by would stop dead in their tracks to watch. I think he asked me at a gas station once. One time he proposed as we were tubing down the Guadeloupe River on Labor Day. That had to be the most embarrassing one. There were hundreds of drunk people yelling at me, "SAY YES!" Most of the time, though, it was just him and I, and he would use a napkin ring, twisty tie or the plastic thing under the milk cap - whatever was available at the time.
Chad and I had many ups and downs over this three year span. In the fall of 2005, he was diagnosed with cancer. It was extremely difficult seeing my usually overly-hyper, charismatic, social butterfly of a beau so tired and pale. He got through his radiation though, charming all of his nurses along the way. Everyone loved him. You can't help but to love Chad. He's one of those people who just lights up a room. He recovered quickly after he completed his final radiation treatments, and helped me open my wedding photography business in June of 2007. A few months later we actually were able to pay our bills for the first time in our lives!
Christmas is undoubtedly Chad's favorite season. During our first Christmas together, he was waiting tables and I was in school. We didn't do presents because we couldn't afford them, but we bought a string of Christmas lights and decorated our plastic fichus tree. It was sweet. Christmas 2008 was different. We had a little money, so we took each other shopping. We had promised each other NOT to buy any more presents, so when Christmas morning rolled around and Chad came in from outside carrying a box that was the exact size of the camera lens I had been drooling over I was instantly FLOORED! I opened the box to find another perfectly wrapped box, which I tore open. Inside that one was a much smaller box taped to the side. I unwrapped the pretty paper and inside that was another box. The fourth box produced a box the exact shape of a ring box, and my hands started to shake.
Though Chad had proposed to me hundreds of times, he had never done anything quite like this. I slowly opened the box, and inside I found a little notebook paper ring complete with a spit-wad diamond on the top. I expected the feeling I felt to be relief, but I was actually a little disappointed. I very dramatically exclaimed, " Oh Chaddie, it's soooo beautiful! Please put it on my finger." He slid off the couch and got down on one knee. He said, "Ok, but close your eyes first." I did, and he said, "Sarah, will you marry me?"
All of a sudden, I felt cold metal on my ring finger. I didn't even look at the ring, I hugged and kissed him and then practically screamed, "So is this the real time?!" He said, "Yes, it's the real time." We were both laughing and tears were streaming down our faces. It was one of the happiest moments of our lives.