Well, it has been several weeks since you heard from me on this blog. It’s been a pretty busy month or two but I thought I would take this moment, on the occasion of Valentine’s Day, to share how Leah and I came to be engaged and I, thusly, became the luckiest guy in the world…
In my earlier story, How I Met Leah, I shared up through Leah’s first visit to the Naval Academy and our trip back to Fresno during summer before my Senior year. Over the course of the next year, Leah would came to visit me two more times while I was still at Annapolis, once for Columbus Day, and again for my graduation that Spring. She would also come visit me in the three duty training stations I had after commissioning. I’ll leave those visits and experiences for later stories.
In March 1990, I was on assigned my first ship, the USS Princeton (CG-59). Life was good from my perspective. What Leah and I had was awesome. I cherished each of her visits and always longed for her whenever we were apart. One day when I was home for a weekend my ship was in port, my Mom and I had a conversation. Knowing I was very committed to Leah, she got straight to the point and asked was I going to marry Leah? Before I could answer, my Mom further emphasized that if I wasn’t going to marry her, I should “…let her go”, as it wasn’t fair to Leah to make her think I was only interested in dating a woman that I had no intention to marry. To be frank, I hadn’t really thought about the timeline on marriage. I truly loved Leah and could see us married at some point but I guess I wasn’t aware that I had hit some time threshold until challenged by my Mom in this way. The best part of my Mom’s question, however, was that I knew at that moment she was blessing the choice of Leah as my wife. Given Leah wan’t Japanese like her, this was a major milestone for my Mom.
I then began the plan on how I would propose to Leah. A friend of mine from high school’s Mom was a local jeweler, and I knew they had a pretty classy store over in Fig Garden Village. I went there and met with her and her expert designer to craft a custom engagement/wedding band for Leah. To this day, Leah is complimented on how beautiful the ring is. I wasn’t making all that much money as yet, but I still wanted to buy something memorable and so dipped deep into my savings to buy the ring.
Being the romantic sappy kind of guy I am, my plan was to propose to Leah at Christmas. Unfortunately, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, a tiny country in the Persian Gulf, in August of that year and that changed my plans dramatically. My ship, USS Princeton, had been scheduled to have a port visit to Vladivostok, USSR as part of an exchange of ship visits between their ships visiting the port of San Diego, CA. Upon completion of that visit, our ship was scheduled to visit other countries on the eastern coast of Asia and return back to our home port in Long Beach, CA. I was calling it “Peace and Love Cruise 1990” as we as a country were enjoying the blessings of the end of the Cold War with Russia. The invasion of Kuwait changed that plan. We would cut our cruise after the Vladivostok visit short and then return immediately back to the U.S. and through the months of October and November, ready the ship to be deployed to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm by December. I share the rest of that story in my earlier story, Princeton Mine Strike
With these change in plans, I had to rush the custom ring I had designed and being made for a Christmas engagement to be ready for a Thanksgiving timeframe instead. Leah and I had Thanksgiving together with my family and that night after a romantic evening watching Cinderella on on her couch/futon at her apartment, I slipped the engagement ring on her finger. Of course, she looked quite surprised as I had made no hint about the engagement. Upon her seeing the ring, I then asked if she would marry me to which she said, “Of course!” I exhaled with relief… yes, she wants to marry me too!
Much has happened since Leah told me ‘Of course’. I know I haven’t always earned those words during my time as her husband, but I do know that God had a plan in that too. To this day, Leah is always the person I go to find truth and meaning in my life. She is both frank and honest yet ever loving and protective of my heart. I am certain I would not be here writing these stories today if I had not heard the Lord echo her words, “Of course she loves you… just as I do…”
Thank you, Lord, for the example that we don’t always get what we deserve, but what your mercy and grace allows us to have anyways. Being married to Leah reminds me daily how deep God’s grace truly goes.
…but I’ll leave those stories to another day.
Have a wonderful St. Valentine’s Day! I pray you get to spend it with your loved one and celebrate the gift she (he) truly is!