Last night, my boyfriend slipped a ring on my finger …

by Mallary Jean Tenore

As I walked in the door Tuesday night, I spotted a homemade pizza sitting on the counter next to a bottle of Pinot Noir.

“Oooo, a pizza!” I said, giving my boyfriend Troy a hug. “And wine!”

“I thought we could have a nice dinner together,” he said, giving me a hug and a kiss.

I love when I come home from work to find dinner already prepared. I told him as much, and then went upstairs to change into my pajamas. When I came back downstairs, I went into the living room and noticed a ladder leaning against the wall.

“Why’s the ladder out?”

“I wanted to hang up a sign that I made you.”

“A sign?”

“I made you a sign to show you how much I love you ….”

(Insert “awww” here.)

Troy took the sign out of the closet and placed it on the table. He had hand-engraved and painted the phrase “All because two people fell in love,” on it. There was a sign with the same saying hanging above the door of my old apartment. The sign was so recognizable that when I mentioned it to people who were familiar with the neighborhood, they knew which house I was talking about. I always liked the sign, and so did Troy.

“Thank you! That is so sweet. I love it!” I couldn’t get over how thoughtful the gift was.

“Go get your camera so I can take a picture of you standing in front of it,” Troy said.

I got it, then picked up the sign and saw that the other side had some words engraved on it, too: “WILL YOU MARRY ME?”

Ahhh! It all felt so surreal.

“Oh my God! … Babe! … Of course!”

He took a video of me reacting to the news, then he got down on one knee and asked me to marry him.

“YES!”

He slipped the ring on my finger and made me the happiest girl. I was shaking and couldn’t stop smiling. I may have even flailed my arms a bit at one point. (OK, I definitely flailed my arms at one point…) The ring was the same one I told him I liked and had originally seen on Pinterest.

I knew the engagement would be coming sometime soon. A few months ago, I found out Troy was starting to look at engagement rings. Every week, I wondered when he was going to propose and inevitably set myself up for temporary disappointment. Whenever we went on a dinner date, I would think: “Maybe tonight’s the night!”

I tried to be patient.

When the engagement topic would come up, Troy would jokingly chant, “Two more years! Two more years!”

“I’ll be long gone if you wait two more years to propose!” I’d (half) jokingly respond.

Shortly after Troy asked me to marry him, we talked about how we would spread the news on social networks. He knows me too well. (I had been thinking about how I would break the news on Facebook and Twitter for months!) He suggested that we post a picture of me holding the “All because two people fell in love” part of the sign, then a picture of me holding the other side of it, followed by a picture of the ring. We did, and the photos quickly generated comments from friends.

For about two hours after Troy proposed, we read all of the congratulatory notes on Facebook and Twitter, responded to text messages, and called friends and family. My friends started sharing ideas about what the wedding would be like.

The ring!

A good college friend said something to the effect of: “I’ve always pictured you wearing a bright pink dress and flying into your wedding in a bubble, like Glenda the good witch from ‘The Wizard of Oz.'”

When I relayed this to one of my other college friends to hear her reaction, she laughed and said: “I’ve thought about that, too! Except I picture you looking like Cinderella. I think of it as a fairy-tale wedding. With some glitter.”

I don’t believe in fairy tales, but I do believe in pink dresses and sparkles.

My college roommate shared this good advice: “When people start asking about the wedding (and they will), you’re allowed to say, ‘This is our time to enjoy the engagement.’ You don’t have to start everything all at once.”

My best friend from childhood, who got married last year, said: “When you do start to plan, make it fun!”

My grandmas, who I called just before they went to bed, both let out little shrieks. I think they would have jumped up and down if they physically could have.

My dad reminded me: “You two are so lucky to have one another. Troy’s a good man.” I could tell that Dad was happy for me, his only child, his perpetual little girl. Troy had asked him for my hand in marriage when we were in Massachusetts last August. (At the time, my friends were betting that he had.) He also called my dad about a half-hour before I got home from work to say he was going to propose. Not surprisingly, my dad kept the information to himself for nearly four months; he’s always been a good secret keeper.

My dad and stepmother are flying in to visit me and Troy later this week, so I’ll be able to talk with them in person about the engagement. I want to be able to share my excitement with my dad, considering I only get to see him once or twice a year.

I wish I could also share it with my mom, who passed away from breast cancer when I was 11. Though she’s been gone for 16 years, I’ve been able to keep her memory alive through writing, and through signs that she sends me. Often, when I’m thinking of her, I’ll look at the clock and will see her “special time” — 7:24. It’s symbolic of her July 24th birthday.

Me and Troy.

I wish I could show Mom my ring, go wedding dress shopping with her, and see her reaction when I become a mom someday. I wish she could meet Troy, who has taught me what it means to let go of the fear of loss and let love in.

He’s the guy I met on Match.com two-and-a-half years ago and decided to go on a date with — partly because he wrote well when messaging me on the site. He’s the flirt who loves holding hands, the boyfriend who brags about me because I’m too humble, the fiance who won’t let a day go by without telling me that I’m beautiful and that he loves me.

I’m lucky.

I know Mom would have approved of Troy and loved him. A couple minutes after he proposed, just before we started to eat our pizza, I picked up my phone. I looked at the time and felt especially loved. It was 7:24.

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