TJ and I were planning on driving up to Sahalie Falls and going hiking, including going behind the waterfall. Rather, I was planning on going hiking. His plans were slightly more dramatic.
That morning at my house, as I finished cleaning the kitchen and he was waiting for me, he was on the phone almost the whole time. He’s not usually on the phone, so I wondered vaguely what he was doing, but I figured maybe his boss was talking to him or something. Well, as it turns out, among other preparations, he was calling my cousin Paul to ask him if he wanted to meet us at the falls, hide, and surreptitiously take pictures. Paul, who is a good friend as well as my cousin, dropped everything, called his college teacher to ask if he could be late to class, and drove two hours to be at the falls, in hiding, when we got there.
Hiding was almost unnecessary. I was busy looking at the falls and trying not to slip on the icy trail. As we stood up there on the path, TJ suggested going under the waterfall then. And, still under the impression that this trip was for hiking purposes, I said maybe we should hike first, while we were still dry. There’s a trail that goes down from Sahalie Falls past Koosah Falls and across a bridge downriver at a tiny little reservoir. TJ and I have hiked the trail several times, it’s beautiful. The whole area is one of my favorite places ever. Anyway, to avoid raising deep suspicions, TJ agreed to hike first. So we struck off down the trail, leaving Paul waiting at Sahalie. TJ had no cell reception and no way to tell Paul what was going on. I was completely oblivious to his dilemma and we walked along the trail talking and looking at the scenery around us. The last few times we had walked down that trail, TJ’d stopped to look at things and gone off trail for better views of the river, and stopped to look at the falls. There were no such detours this time. I remember noting that, but I didn’t think anything of it. After all, we’d been through the area before. Maybe he’d seen it all or something.
All the way down to the reservoir, all the way back up to Sahalie. Looking back I can see that TJ was trying to move fast, moving on every time we stopped. It’s probably about a forty-five minute hike. At some point I wondered if he was planning on proposing that day. Then I looked at him and dismissed the idea. TJ often gets really quiet, even quieter than usual, when he’s preoccupied or nervous, and he wasn’t acting quiet at all. He was talking and acting completely normal. So I figured there was no way he was planning something.
When we got back up to Sahalie, I suggested hiking further up the trail, to look at the river above the falls. There’s a pool up there we had seen before that’s an incredibly beautiful spot. Again, to avoid acting wierd, he went along with it and we hiked up a little further. We reached the pool and looked at it, then he started back down. Well, I kind of thought we’d explore further up, see what else was up the river, but it looked like he wanted to get back, so I followed him without questions or further suggestions, thankfully. He led us straight to the bare hint of a trail that leads behind the waterfall.
The idea was to cross the river by walking behind the waterfall and coming back out the other side, placing us right next to the path, the truck, and the bathrooms to change in. We’d been back there before and knew we’d get completely soaked. I had a change of clothes, due to unforeseen circumstances, he was not so fortunate.
That part of the plan actually completely worked. We went behind the waterfall, in the deep moss, mud, and rocks, with water seeming to come from every where, the sun shining through the sheet of water in front of us. Within seconds we were both completely soaked, except for where protected by he heavy coats we were both wearing. We then picked our way along the hill side towards the front side of the waterfall, where a rock outcropping provides an up close and soaking wet view of the falls. As we moved around the falls, he kept trying to get me to stop without actually saying, “Stop!” an endeavor which was completely unsuccessful. I thought he wanted to look at the scenery, and while yes, it was beautiful, I was soaking wet, cold, and picking my way along a steep hill covered with moss and deep mud. It was not a place I wanted to stop. So he waited until we got around, where he gestured towards the rocks in front of the falls and said, “Let’s go over here for a minute.” Those rocks are an amazing place, slightly less wet than behind the waterfall, so close to the falls that the mist rolls over you in sheets. Also, the footing is relatively good there. I wasn’t so wet and cold as to be unwilling to go up there, and I followed him up gladly.
As we were standing there, he took my hand in a rather unusual way, facing me, and you know that thrill you get when when you know something good is about to happen? That’s what I got. He looked at me and smiled and said, “I love you.”
I smiled and probably blushed and muttered, “I love you too.” (I’m not accustomed to saying that.)
Then he got down on one knee and I knew that finally, this was really happening.
“Sara-Anne Louise Leavitt, will you marry me?”
He said I barely let him finish his sentence before I said “Yes!”
So then we hugged and I said, “I thought you’d never ask!” I’d had my answer ready for a while. He laughed and we started walking back up to the path.
It felt almost matter of fact, actually. There was no music score, no sweeping camera shots. I mean, that is one of those moments where music is supposed to crescendo from somewhere, right? I wasn’t shaking or nervous or wildly, emotionally happy. I was just kind of like, “Wow, OK, that just happened.” On the way back up the trail I said, “Did you really just propose to me?”
And he smiled at me and said, “Yes I did.”
All right, that just happened. I guess you might say I was in shock. As we got up to the path and it sank in, I felt happy and settled, like finally this thing that I’ve been waiting for had happened and he really does want me to marry him. He knows me, knows who I am, knows all my most common mistakes and foolishnesses, and he still wants to marry me. He knows me, and he loves me.
Like Jesus does, I guess. He know everything about you and still loves you.
When we reached the parking lot, Paul walked up behind us with a cheerful hello and then I was really confused. The idea that he may have just happened to be there crossed my mind and was discarded as completely unreasonable. No, this had to be planned. But…wow!
Paul congratulated us quickly, shook hands in leiu of hugs since we were both dripping wet, and left to go to class, taking his pictures with him. Hopefully someday they will be released to an eager family.