our story: engagement.

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At this point in our story, our second anniversary is coming up – Dec. 20 2010.  Maybe as we get there we’ll write some stories about “what happened since then”

May 19 marked one year from the day Henry officially asked Dad’s permission to court me with the intention of marriage. I knew he was taking me out that night for our anniversary, and I was wondering if he would propose, but I had no idea how or when. I was VERY surprised when (oh – after picking me up….he asked me to dress up in my blue gown from 8th grade…still fits!!) we turned up at the Melting Pot. We started heading North on Monroe and I started fearing it would be some sort of unfunny joke of his, taking me to Sonny’s or something. But, no! The Melting Pot! I so proud of him, too – he looked at the menu before we came! And made reservations! That shows PLANNING!!! And he even budgeted for the meal!!! We ate salads, cheddar cheese fondue (bread and veggies and apples for dipping…we were vegetarians that night….meat was a bit expensive) and cookies and cream chocolate fondue flambe. Henry wanted to see the blue fire….it was cool.

Throughout the dinner, it was SO strange. I felt like we were on our first date! We were in a private corner in the back, the lights were dim, we were in a super nice restaurant (not usual for us). It was cool, but we were so awkward around each other! I gave Henry the first on my presents to him – a sonnet, framed, by John Donne. Henry was checking his watch throughout the evening. When I asked him about it, I discovered that our evening was not ending quite yet.

After dinner, Henry took me to the top of the Woodward Parking Garage. I had no idea we were going there. One of our first real dates was when Henry surprised me with a picnic on the top of the garage last summer. On this night, there were people on the top of the garage, much to Henry’s chagrin, and I suggested we leave since we were all dressed up. But, no — Henry had a plan, and he was sticking to it. He wanted to see the sunset, and this was the best place to see it that we knew of.

by Megan Barton

Megan Barton's picture of my hand. It symbolized opening new doors, trying new things, and learning to trust.

So…I gave Henry the rest of his gifts: a passage from Song of Solomon (framed), a German chocolate bar (he’s going to Germany this summer), and the attached photo of my hand. I wanted to give him a photo of me, and this one by Megan Barton (a friend of mine in Tally) of my hand opening a door I felt symbolically represented our relationship of trying to new things and learning to trust each other. At that point, Henry said “It’s funny that you gave me a sonnet, because I wrote you one.” At this point I thought “Aww, cute he’s trying to be cheap…but not ring!” But as I listened to the beautiful sonnet, I was taken aback by the words.

You asked me for a sonnet one spring day

So here it is, the best that I can do.

A sonnet is a fine and fitting way

For me to well proclaim my love for you.


For Catherine, you are music to my soul

A melody that brightens night to day

A harmony that makes my part sound whole

A symphony that chaces doubt away


And when I feel my strength is nearly gone

Eroded by some hardship, trial, or strife

Your beauty breaks upon me like the dawn

You warm my heart and quicken me to life

—-At this point, Henry pretends to misplace the last two lines, turns around to fiddle with his camera case, and takes out a small box and got down on one knee. He finished the sonnet…

I want no life without you by my side

So, Catherine Dunlap, will you be my bride?

—At this point, I was tearing profusely. I kissed Henry, so touched was I by the tender hearted words coming from his lips. He repeated the question, just to make sure I meant “yes” – “Catherine, will you marry me?” and I tearily said “YES.”

For the next 20 minutes we took pictures on the roof, including the one I have attached here, and tried to process what had just happened. Friendship being the foundation of our relationship, we shared the moment, laughing and processing and repeating the word “fiance/fiancee” to try and help it sink in.

Later that evening, we called a zillion friends to tell them to news, took a few more pictures on Park Ave. and went to Henry’s parents’ house for Rosa Regale. Henry’s parents (Paul and Eric), his sister Connie, brother Phil and Phil’s wife Jen, all joined in the celebration.

Right now our future plans include graduation in April 2009 and getting married sometime, we are trying to figure out when the soonest possible time would be plausible. Henry’s looking a couple of apartment offers for mother-in-law suites that would be free or cheap for us to live. We are looking at either before our final semester of school (Dec/Jan) or following graduation (May/June). Ultimately, the decision will probably depend on our ability to provide for ourselves financially. Henry would like to attend seminary but is not sure which one yet; we both believe he is called to be a pastor/teacher/counselor type person. I don’t want to go to grad school quite yet; I have no idea what I would do yet. I have several personal musical goals, and of course I would like to teach. I would also like to continue to explore composition on my own in a non-academic setting. We believe that God has called to be together, and that we are better together than we are apart. I suppose you could say that marrying Henry is an act of faith. I don’t know what life will be like, we’ll probably be very poor for a long time, but I love him and I also believe that God will provide and that we will find joy in this union.

On the Woodward Parking Garage

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4 responses »

  1. Awww. . .I so loved your sharing some very personal moments on this post. I had not heard this story. It made my smile and cry at the same time. I share your joy that God in His divine providence brought you together as friends, and then allowed you to fall in love and choose each other for a life time as husband and wife. God is amazing. His plans are perfect. I am lifting a prayer that God will continue to use you mightily as a team for His glory.

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