After a full day of cleaning, organizing, and searching for jobs to whisk us away from North Dakota, I was enjoying yet another Christmas classic on TV (The Santa Claus, none of that claymation stuff for me, thank you) when DU called. It was about an hour before he was due to get off from work so I had figured that he was calling to request some dish for dinner that I would surely burn/maim/make poisonous or inedible. However, he told me that he "need my help" moving one of our ground blinds from our usual land to a parcel of new land that we just received permission to hunt. Given that we only had an hour and a half before the sun was due to set, this seemed like a labor-intensive project for so late in the day but I wanted to get out of the house, so I went along, innocent as an angel.
DU acted like his normal self, talking about when his parents were coming in for Christmas, how work was, and whether or not we should train Dixie to become a deer-tracking dog. I, a little uncertain and figuring that this was just an excuse to get me near the mall to look at diamond rings, acted normal as well, until my mom called. When I told her that we were "going into the woods to move stuff", she replied, uncharacteristically with, "oh really? moving stuff? Well.. that's good!". I hung up, looked at a happily humming DU and tried to imagine what exactly was going on.
We parked where the big field meets the little field, a divide well known by those who love Huntography because that is precisely where I shot my first buck. This spot is also interesting simply because it is about a 20 minute walk in the opposite direction from the stand we were supposed to move. Feeling that something was amiss, I played the "damsel in distress" card. I sat in my seat and told a gun-loading DU that I would not go into the woods with a strange man such as himself, a girl has to look out for herself, doncha know? DU informed me that he was giving me a 25-second head start and that if I was quick, I'd be able to dodge the incoming buck shot.
I acquiesced. We walked to the food pile to "check it out", to "see what they have been eating" (DU's words, not mine). I stared at the ground, pointed out that the potatoes have been all but eaten, and looked to DU for some sign that he actually cared about what had been going on with that particular area of land. He didn't so he kept walking but then stopped some 60 yards away. He turned to me once I caught up and said that this was the spot where "our whole lives changed". This statement, rooted in pure fact, made me pause. I had killed my first buck there, on camera, and who knows where that will lead? Besides that, we came home from that spot to have our world ripped apart. Since then, we decided to change jobs, uproot, and embark upon a new adventure. That spot acted as the catalyst for so much beautiful and horrible change in our lives that it only seemed natural for what happened next.
As my feet began progressing past that thought-provoking spot, DU told me to turn around, to "look over there". I did and noticed something on a tree that I hadn't seen before.
Shocked, I turned to see a kneeling DU, holding a small box in his hands. Too taken back for words, I looked back at the tree while my eyes filled with the tears from a lifetime of heartbreak by jerks who didn't care and for the lifetime ahead with my best friend. My head swung back to the view of the man who had given me so much love, understanding, and confidence; the man who changed my world, broadened my horizons and showed me what it meant to me truly adored. Everything that needed to be said was written on the tree so DU just waited silently for my answer. He began shaking the box at me in an effort to pull me back into reality, to give him an answer. I nodded my head as he took me into his arms, his future wife.
My flaws are many and our troubles have been great since our lives began to intertwine. But, DU has overlooked my shortcomings (again, literally, as he's 6'5") and has supported me through the low times. It is for those two reasons, as well as a list longer than imaginable, that I am overjoyed that DU asked me to walk with him for the rest of our lives, and it seemed only fitting that it started in the woods. It took DU over three hours to carve the above proposal into that tree. He walked into the woods with a pocket knife and a diamond ring, he walked out with a wife.
Days later, my future husband sent me a text that read, "If I could give you one thing in life, I would give you the ability to see yourself through my eyes, only then would you realize how special you are to me". The sentiment struck me as beautiful and humbling, as just days before I saw myself reflected in his labor-intensive proposal, the perfect choice for the rest of his life.
* I love you, more than you'll ever know. Thank you for who you are.