19 May 2006. It was a cold, rainy night. I had spent the day eagerly preparing for Brendan’s birthday. We were still dating at the time. Before heading out for dinner, I gave him his hand-made birthday gift and tried to impress him by performing his favorite classical piece on my YAMAHA keyboard.
We boarded the subway and headed downtown to the Queen Elizabeth Hotel. A friend of ours had given us a gift card to dine at the Beaver Club Restaurant and we were looking forward to eating out in style for a change. Although I had dressed up for the occasion, the rain and wind had turned my hair into a slightly disheveled state and I felt a bit like a wet rat. As we arrived at the door to the restaurant, a waiter approached us at lightning speed reaching for our coats and umbrella. I felt slightly embarrassed at my appearance as I handed him my dripping wet coat.
As we walked in, regular patrons to the club lifted their heads, some eyeing us up and down, some with conspicuously raised eyebrows. I asked Brendan if we had come to the right restaurant. I felt out of place. As we approached our designated table, another set of waiters seemed to appear out of nowhere, one pulling out our chairs for us, one pouring water into glasses and another presenting us with menus. I was not used to such finery!
But all my initial discomfort disappeared as Brendan and I celebrated 3 years of being together as a dating couple and his 28th birthday that year. The food was exquisite! Brendan and I chuckled at one of the courses that consisted of a tiny piece of expensive, rare fish placed squarely at the center of a huge plate. Was that all there was? We gobbled up the sumptuous fish in one bite, hoping we were not breaking any etiquette rules.
After our delicious meal, Brendan asked if I wanted to go up Mount Royal for a walk. Concerned about my already disheveled hair (I have unruly curly hair that only becomes more unruly when faced with moisture of any kind), I asked if we could walk somewhere closer instead. He agreed, and as we walked outside, he suddenly pulled me into the park at Dorchester Square. “I’d like to say a little prayer for us, Mali“, he said nervously. I fiddled with my hair and distractedly positioned the umbrella over our heads trying to avoid the rain.
As we closed our eyes, he held one of my hands and proceeded to pray. When I opened my eyes, he was down on one knee with a ring in his hands. As the realization of what was happening began to sink in, his tender voice shook “Will you marry me, Mali?” Red rose petals swirled all around my feet in the tiny rivulets of rain. He had discretely sprinkled the petals on the ground while my eyes were closed. I screamed and threw down the umbrella, all worries about my hair completely forgotten. I embraced him, kissed him and said a resounding “Yes! Of course I will, babe!”.
We skipped off to the to subway like little children, hands clasped firmly together. We were completely drenched and water dripped down our clothes forming little puddles on the floor of the subway. We hugged and giggled, high on the euphoria of being engaged to be married. People stared, some smiling, others shaking their heads. With all of my focus on Brendan’s birthday, I never imagined he would propose to me that particular night.
We were married exactly one year later, on 19th May 2007, Brendan’s 29th birthday. I was 26 years old. We had a very simple wedding in the Laurentians of Québec, Canada with about 100 guests. Our wedding invitations were hand-made and addressed in my favorite calligraphy writing. We couldn’t afford catering so our friends chipped in and brought food. We had a feast! My mother made our wedding cake…out of 10 boxes of brownie mix! Our friends decorated the wedding venue for us. My mother and one of my brothers walked me down the aisle and I knew my late daddy was smiling down at me from heaven…on what was one of the most special days of my life!