Where do I even begin?
2022 was transformative, to say the least—a whirlwind of a year that truly flew by in the blink of an eye. I spent 2 incredible months living and working in London, took a life-changing course, ran a course on AI and the brain, experienced the power of prayer…and so much more.
But by far the most transformative part of this year was deciding to spend the rest of my life with someone else. So in light of that, this year-end reflection is to him:
My dear Ethan,
On July 23, 2022, you asked me to marry you.
I look back and wonder how we even ended up here. Our friendship started from a classroom at Rice, where we read Walt Whitman and discussed the meaning of Persimmons. You wrote about milk; I wrote about death.
You were always thoughtful, supportive, and sometimes, inexplicably strange. You’d go from cracking a joke to talking about something really serious in really confusing intervals. It wasn’t until I loved you that I understood why: because you simply cannot bear superficial talk with anyone for more than like, five minutes. Because you see past the protective facades that people put up, and wish to speak directly into their insecurities and fears even if they themselves are not yet aware of them. It’s what I’ve come to love and appreciate about you— your divine gift of piercing through the masks that people (including me) often don, and diving right into the content of their hearts.
On our drive to the Oregon Coast a couple weeks ago, you approached me with curiosity and compassion (as you often do): we had shared our love story with our families the night before, but you were left wondering why I never seemed to share how I actually felt when we first started dating. Was I excited? Happy? Nervous? It was really hard for me to put into words the answer to that question. You said it was okay, and that we could unpack it together at a later point in time. But since then, I realized why I felt saddened by that question, and I wanted to tell you why:
Because I was afraid…that I couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to love you like I had loved before. Because in my idealist nature, I wished ours was a story of first loves, and not brokenness and healing and making sense of my past. Because even as I re-opened a conversation about dating after rejecting you twice over two years, I wondered if I was really ready to open myself again to uncertainty, failure, and the sacrifices that love demands. It was excitement mixed with apprehension, hope confounded with despair, faith shackled by doubt. These feelings are too complex to describe to people who think that falling in love is simple and straightforward. But complexity is what you love to unpack; you never shy away from the beautiful paradoxes that fill our rich emotional life with colorful contrast. And that is exactly why you ask me piercing questions such as this.
I’ll admit my pride. When we first started dating, I felt like I knew exactly what love was, having loved so deeply before. In contrast, I was your first girlfriend. But God knew that kind of courageous naïveté was exactly what I needed to believe in Love again. Thank you for your patience and pursuit, your curiosity and compassion, how you recognize the weight of sacrifice, and ever pointing me towards a deeper dependence on a Confidence far beyond your own. In reality, I think you knew more about Love than I.
This year was a big one for us, and it certainly wasn’t easy. I struggled to accept the impact of your military career on my ambitions, while you struggled with meaning in your own career. We chose each other despite various temptations and distractions, navigated family conflicts, and stressed over the many logistical demands of our future. You asked my parents whether you should break up or just propose, after months of being unsure about my long-term commitment.
But, we saw miracles, too: I found a peace that surpasses understanding, and gave you the green light. You learned the virtues of patience and reconciliation. I finally made peace with my past. We adapted to many, many changing plans, and easily decided on the same rank-list for your Navy assignments. You somehow got 48 hours of leave and the last seat on the last plane to London, after cancellations, delays, and divine intervention.
So how did we end up here? Nothing short of patience, perseverance, prayer, pears, people who love and support us, and…Persimmons.
Thank you for being such an integral part of my year, and, from now on, the rest of my life. I feel so privileged to spend this life with you, as we grow together in all of love’s joys and challenges and discover the deep spiritual mystery that is marriage.
And that’s why, on July 23, 2022, I said yes.