Ever since Mackenzie and I started dating, I’ve been giving her handwritten letters, sealed with a wax seal. I wrote her the first letter about a week after we started dating on a solo hiking trip, and I realized then that my life had changed forever. The alone time that I usually enjoyed, the silence of the woods, and the solitude of being miles from another living soul was no longer enjoyable, and I found myself constantly thinking about how I’d rather be sitting on the couch next to Mackenzie, watching some pointless TV show or movie and just enjoying each other’s company. I considered hiking back out that night so that I wouldn’t have to spend a single night in a different town. I decided to stay in the woods that night, but that’s when I wrote the first letter. I continued writing her letters throughout our time dating, and for Christmas I built her a wooden box to keep those letters in. Little did she know, they were a part of the story I’d been planning since the beginning.
Fast forward 8 months to the weekend of my 24th birthday. I told Mackenzie I wanted to take Monday, February 11th off and just spend the day together doing things we enjoyed.
On most Mondays, we eat brunch at Toast in Davidson, and afterwards we’ll take some time to walk around the Davidson College campus across the street and pretend to be college students, and we go sit in a courtyard and talk. The day started out with brunch at Toast, and was filled with other fun activities. On our way home after our day together, I started to be noticeably anxious, to the point where Mackenzie says I was making weird noises, laughing at everything she said (even if it wasn’t a joke) and asking weird questions. I have no memory of this. I was anxious, because when we pulled off at the appropriate exit, I took an unexpected turn, and drove onto the Davidson campus, and said “There’s one more thing I’d like to do…” and we walked up to the courtyard we often visited together, where soft lighting came from the surrounding lanterns, and the box containing the letters sat on the park bench. At this point, she knew for sure that I was up to something.
In the box were all the letters I had given her over the course of our relationship. Some of them I had sealed with a wax seal, some of them I left on her windshield, some of them were attached to gifts, some of them were love letters, some of them were short notes telling her how much I enjoyed and appreciated her. As we walked up to the park bench on February 11th, 2013, I told Mack I wanted to read through the letters I had written her, and at this point I started to lose feeling in my extremities.
We began to sort through the letters, and I picked out all the letters that were sealed with wax in an envelope. At this point, I gave her one more letter and told her to read it there on that bench. My hands were shaking as I began ordering all the letters I was holding into the sequence I had planned, because starting with the very first letter I wrote on that camping trip, throughout all 13 letters that were sealed with wax, I had hidden a secret message in the first letter of each of those letters. Every note I wrote her began with a specific letter, that when arranged in the order I gave them to her spelled out the question “W-I-L-L Y-O-U M-A-R-R-Y M…” and she was reading the final one that began with the letter “E.”
She finished reading the final letter, and I put it in the back of the stack I was holding, and told her to read the first letter of each letter in order from first to last. She flipped slowly at first: W… I… L… L… Y… O… U… and her speed picked up as she began to realize what she was reading. M… A… R… and by the time she reached the R’s she started to cry and shake her head and I moved off the bench and down onto one knee and asked the girl of my dreams if she would do me the honor and pleasure of being my wife. The best moment of my life so far is looking up into her watering eyes as she realized that I had been planning this since the beginning, and she had been holding this message the entire time without knowing it, and now it all made sense, and she said yes.