About four weeks into recovering from my laparoscopic surgery to remove endometriosis, Hayden and I decided to go out for a nice dinner at our favorite restaurant, Santiago’s Bodega in Orlando, FL. It was my first time putting on makeup, doing my hair, and getting dressed up since my surgery; but also my first time within the last three months due to pain.
I had been cooped up in the house for so long I was dying to get out and do something – anything! This in itself made dinner extraordinarily exciting and romantic for the both of us. The words date night had been lost from our vocabulary for quite some time. In fact, the last two years had been very difficult and a true test of our relationship.
Chronic pain from endometriosis and ovarian cysts made it difficult for me to go out and enjoy life. Stress, worry and sadness often put a cloud over our once active, happy-go-lucky lifestyle.
But Hayden was by my side through every step, even when I thought I wasn’t worthy enough to have him. He even made me feel beautiful with my greasy hair and hairy legs while recovering! He would do anything for me and always reassured me that he wasn’t going anywhere, no matter what other obstacles were in store for us.
This has made us love one another even more deeply than we ever thought possible. No engagement ring could ever match the commitment Hayden has shown me throughout this time of hardship.
Going out to dinner is ordinary for most couples, but for us it felt like the beginning of a new chapter in our lives.
The last time we had dined at Santiago’s was for our four year anniversary in January. We sat at a high top outside, next to a window. When we arrived on June 10th, the server took us exactly to that same table. We both looked at each other and said “perfect!” Santiago’s is a fairly large restaurant, so it felt pretty serendipitous to be seated at that exact spot again.
Dinner was delicious, conversation was wonderful, I was pain-free, and my date was as handsome as ever. It was the most wonderful day I’d had in while. But most of all, it was a reminder that I was growing, healing and moving on. For so long, I felt like a slave to Endometriosis. And for once, I knew that it didn’t have control over me. My Endometriosis may never go away, but it’s my decision to make it the forefront of my life or just a shadow in the background.
After dinner, we arrived at home just in time to watch the sunset. When you’re stuck at home all day, watching sunsets becomes a regular thing. So like usual, we headed out to the front of the house and sat on a stack of old pavers to watch the sky change from blue to purple, pink, yellow and orange.
After a little while I asked Hayden if he wanted to go for a walk down the driveway. Our driveway is 800 feet long and 15 feet wide, with live oak trees and hollies lined along the sides until the very end. It’s beautiful; I remind myself not to take it for granted, since I grew up with it since the age of five. But he said he wanted to wait longer until the sunset was prettier, and I thought nothing of it. Finally, after about five more minutes I said “I’m tired of sitting, let’s walk!”
As we walked down the driveway Hayden started asking some pretty random questions – nothing unusual. “What kind of plant do you feel connected to?”, he asked. “Like, I feel connected to oak trees.”
“What??” I laughed. “I don’t know, probably birch trees and sunflowers.” Then he grabbed a small yellow flower off of the vine-covered fence and put it behind my ear. We held hands and talked about more random things until we got to the end of the driveway – just before our big gold and black gate.
Hayden is a passionate gardener and agriculturist, so it’s common for him to stop walking and inspect a dead plant or fix an unwrapped vine. As he did that, I turned around and kept walking knowing that he would catch up in a second. But he didn’t catch up.
As I continued to walk, I heard Hayden call my name (well, our nickname for one another that I can’t explain to anyone because I don’t even know where it came from). “Bonny”, said Hayden.
To my surprise, he wasn’t going to show me a cool new flower he found on the fence. Instead, he was down on one knee, holding a black box with a shiny diamond inside, saying “Will you marry me?” with the biggest smile on his red face.
I think the first words out of my mouth were “What! What’s going on!?” as I covered my cheeks. I froze in complete shock and excitement. I don’t know how long it took me to walk those fifteen steps over to Hayden, but he said it felt like forever. Hayden must have asked me to marry him five times before I was able to speak again.
Finally, once I was able to put one foot in front of the other and make my way to him, I said “YES!” and he slid that ring on my finger so fast it was a blur.
We looked at each other in shock with the biggest grins. The conversation got lost somewhere between laughing, crying, kissing and looking at each other thinking “is this really happening!?”
Then we couldn’t stop calling each other “fianceeee” and “Beyonceeee” after every sentence. Also, I had Hayden slip the ring back on my finger just a couple more times – you know, to relive that glorious moment.
It was the perfect ending to our previous chapter; and the perfect beginning to our next one.