I ran as fast as I could from my car to my apartment on the third floor of the complex. It was dark and rainy and I had just gotten back from a long day at Duke.
Because I worked on a college campus, most of my nights were late nights that included Bible studies and meetings.
Grant always liked me to call him as soon as I arrived safely to my apartment from campus. He didn’t like me driving late at night and arriving at my apartment alone.
I set my umbrella down as I came in the door and walked straight over to my computer to Skype Grant. I knew he would be waiting for my call.
I called twice with no answer.
Hmm…that was funny. Normally Grant would pick up on the first or second ring. I started doing other things around my apartment and tried again a few minutes later, still nothing.
Finally, a message popped up on my computer screen. It was a chat from Grant.
I’m sorry, GraceAnna. I’m talking to your parents. I will call you in just a few minutes.
I got ready for bed all the while wondering why Grant had called my parents. Was it about marrying me? Was it about coming to the states again soon?
I knew Grant would have to come back eventually to propose to me and I was dying to see him. It had only been over two months since I had said good-bye to him at Christmas.
My phone rang and I picked it up, “Hey, Grant!”
“Hey, babe!” He exclaimed cheerily. Yes, Grant had started calling me babe and he was shameless about it.
“How are you?” I asked probingly, not really caring at the moment how he was. I wanted to know why he had called Dr. and Mrs. Broggi.
“I am doing fantastic!”
I could tell by his super energetic voice that he was indeed doing fantastic.
“Yeah, well why is that?” I tried again.
“Well, guess what I was talking to your parents about?”
“What?” I tried to act nonchalant.
“They asked me when I was planning on marrying you.”
“WHAT?” The nonchalantness was now gone.
“Yeah, well you know I’ve already talked to your dad about it.”
“GraceAnna, you know I want to marry you and I basically told your dad that months ago. But anyway, they asked what my plans were and I started telling them about my upcoming deployment in the spring and I told them that I would like to get married sometime after that. I thought they might think that that was a little early, but they didn’t at all.”
“Well, what did they say?”
“They asked me why I wanted to wait SO LONG to get married.”
“Are you serious?“
“And you know what’s crazy about that, GraceAnna? I talked to my parents about us getting married and they asked me the same thing.”
I was shocked. I had expected both sets of our parents to tell us to wait until Grant came back from Japan, or at least until Grant’s upcoming deployment was over.
But this was huge. The people in our lives that knew and loved us the most were giving us their blessing. And not only their blessing, they were telling us to go for it! SOON!
“GraceAnna, I knew I wanted to marry you at Christmas,” Grant continued, “and I honestly could have done it then I was so sure, but I was thinking next summer because I figured your parents would want us to wait…but now, wow, now that I realize that they are giving their blessing… that just opens up the door! I want to marry you this year!”
The rain continued to fall and Grant and I talked on the phone almost the entire night. We talked about getting married in the late summer or fall.
“Hey, GraceAnna,” Grant said at some point in the middle of the night, “I want you to know this isn’t how I wanted it.
“You know, us having to talk marriage and wedding dates and everything before we are even engaged. And me being so far away like this. I know it’s hard on you sometimes.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that Grant. I love you and I’m just so happy God brought you into my life!”
As morning dawned and I became so tired that I could no longer form sentences, we finally said good-night.
I didn’t know how it was all going to work out.
I didn’t know how we would plan our wedding in such a short amount of time.
I didn’t know when Grant would come to see me to “officially” propose.
I didn’t know how I would start explaining to people that I was going to get married sometime that year.
I just knew I loved Grant.
“Hey, GraceAnna, I’ve got some bad news,” Grant said over the phone. “The Marine Corps is sending me to the Philippines for the whole month of April.”
“Oh.” My heart sunk.
It had been a couple weeks since we had decided that we would get married later that year. I was so anxious to know when Grant would come propose. It was hard for me to answer people’s questions about my plans for the next year because I didn’t want to tell anyone I was getting married without a ring on my finger.
Instead I would tell people that things were getting “really serious” between Grant and me but I didn’t know exactly how everything was going to work out. Which was true.
But I had a lot of decisions to make, and soon. I had to decide if I was going on the summer missions’ trip to China with Crusade. I had to let Campus Crusade know whether or not I would continue working with them in the fall. I had to let my roommate know if I was moving out.
I had been hoping Grant would be able to fly to the states in April and surprise me with an engagement. I wanted people to meet him so they didn’t think I was leaving the country with some mystery Marine.
I wanted everything to be, well, normal.
So, when Grant gave me the deployment news over the phone that day, I was very disappointed.
Why is the Marine Corps so hard? I thought to myself. I wasn’t even married or engaged yet and it was already dictating my life.
Grant could sense my disappointment. “Look, I know this is hard, but I just need you to trust me. You are the girl of my heart, GraceAnna, and I would give my life for you in a heartbeat. I want you to be my wife more than anything in this world. Everything will work out just fine. I am coming to see you. You’ll just have to wait a little longer.”
“Grant, I do trust you. I love you too.”
I drove down 1-95 S toward the Savannah airport. It was May 3rd.
I had done it. I had made it through March and April without Grant and I had even announced our “unofficial” engagement to my close friends and those that I needed to share it with.
And now, Grant was coming to see me!
I was nervous again. But this was a different kind of nervous. I wasn’t nervous about the “disconnect” any longer. I wasn’t nervous about whether or not the next few days would be “awkward.”
I was excited-nervous.
I knew, knew I was getting engaged.
Of course, I would have rather been completely surprised by his proposal, but that was just not how it was to be. That’s not how it is for many military couples I have come to learn. There are too many details that have to be worked out beforehand.
In a very small sense, I saw it as a way to be a part of the sacrifice my future husband was making for our country.
But I did wonder how Grant was going to propose.
My brother Jordan joked that Grant was going to ride down the airport escalator on one knee. And for some reason, I couldn’t get that image out of my head. What if Grant did do that?
Grant hardly knew Beaufort at all and I sure hoped he wouldn’t ask me in public. Grant is a very public kind of guy, so I didn’t think it would be beyond him to do something like that.
Okay, GraceAnna, you need to stop it! I told myself. Do you want to plan your own engagement? Just trust Grant, like he told you to do.
I parked my car and walked into the airport. I was early again this time, but not hours early like I had been at Christmas.
I waited and waited, and then I saw him.
My tall, Marine Cowboy made his way towards me. He stared shamelessly into my eyes with a huge smile and he embraced me with the biggest most wonderful Texas-sized hug. I had waited so long for that hug and when I started to cry he said, “Let’s get out of here!“
Whew, I thought, no escalator proposal.
We got in the car and I couldn’t help but notice that Grant kept fingering his left jean pocket.
to be continued…