Love Speaks…The Proposal

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!

2003. The year we started dating. I was 22 and Brendan was 25.
We started dating in 2003. I was 22 and he was 25.
Our hand made wedding invitation. This sketch of us was drawn by my mother-in-law in 2007.
Our hand-made wedding invitation. This sketch of us was drawn by Brendan’s mother in 2007.
19 May 2007. Our wedding day in Sainte Agathe-des-Monts, Québec, Canada
19 May 2007. Our wedding day in Sainte Agathe-des-Monts, Québec, Canada
Summer 2008, Old Port, Montréal. Married life before kids!
Summer 2008, Old Port, Montréal. Married life before kids!
Summer 2014. Married life after kids!
Summer 2014. Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Québec. Married life after kids!
Dorchester Square, downtown Montréal. Where the proposal took place!
Dorchester Square, downtown Montréal. Where Brendan proposed to me in May 2006.

See How Much I Love You

When my husband and I got married in 2007, one of the things he pledged to me (aside from a lifetime supply of chocolate) was that he would write me a note every day for the rest of our lives. I was impressed and waited to see if he would pull it off. He was inspired by a book called “Night Light, a devotional for couples” written by Dr. James and Shirley Dobson.

Within the first few pages of this book was a little excerpt describing the love between grandparents. They would play a daily game with each other where they wrote the word “shmily” somewhere around the house for each other to find. It was an expression and reminder of their love for each other.

They dragged “shmily” with their fingers through the sugar and flour containers to await whoever was preparing the next meal. They smeared it in the dew on the windows overlooking the patio…”Shmily” was written in the steam on the bathroom mirror, where it would appear after every hot shower. At one point, my grandmother even unrolled an entire roll of toilet paper to leave “shmily” on the very last sheet” [pg. 16].

My husband has been true to his word and somehow a note (usually a brightly colored post-it) has materialized in some unusual corner of the house. Sometimes it is in a kitchen cupboard where I find it when I’m cooking. Sometimes I find it rolled up in a box of cereal. Sometimes I find it hidden behind the leaves of one of our house plants as I’m watering it. When we travel, the note makes its way into a sock or a hidden pocket in the suitcase. We are certain someone might find one of these notes in a hotel room, left behind by mistake. Hopefully, it will brighten their day. Today, I found my note in my shower cap!

Caleb, our son, is starting to catch on. He proudly presents pink notes he has discovered and says, “Mummy, here’s a note from daddy”.

I sometimes joke that I will enter my husband into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most number of personal notes ever written. Since 2007, when we got married, they now number close to 3000 notes! I have kept them safely in a box in our bedroom hoping that one day the kids will read through them and know that their parents loved each other very much. I love these notes, they brighten up my day, motivate me, make me laugh, and remind me that I am appreciated and loved.

“S-h-m-i-l-y…..See How Much I Love You”

A note of encouragement from my husband
A note of encouragement from my husband
Our wedding day, Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, May 2007.
Our wedding day, Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, May 2007.
Our wedding day, Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, May 2007.
Our wedding day, Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts, Quebec, May 2007.
Our traditional wedding, Nairobi Kenya, May 2007
Our traditional wedding, Nairobi Kenya, May 2007