Thursday, February 2, 2012

Chapter Thirty-One: Nearing the End.

I busted the doors down when we arrived to my house, eager to show my parents “THE RING”. As I tore through the entry hall, I was greeted not only by my parents, but also Darin’s parents, his sister and some of my very best friends. There was lots of crying, lots of laughing, lots of celebrating and when I finally looked up from my sparkly new ring, I looked over at my Mom and I could already see the wheels turning in her head.

It was time to plan a wedding!

We knew that we wanted a summer wedding, sometime after college graduation and after a few weeks we finally settled on July 1. Having a date was even more surreal than having the ring. Having a date on the calendar meant that there was something to count down to. Having a date on the calendar meant that on that very day, I would become Mrs. Darin Gatsby. Having a date on the calendar meant we had to get busy!

From the day we settled on our date, we had eleven months before the big day. That may seem like an eternity for most, but we had a whole other year of college before us. Planning a wedding amidst tests, finals, friends, homework, graduation, and everything else that comes along with your last year of college is not exactly the easiest thing to do. We had plenty of time, but the majority of those months we were going to be apart.

The end of August quickly rolled around, as it did the years before. I never understood how three months at school took an eternity to creep by and when we were home for the summer, I could blink and it was gone. Oh well, we had only one more year to be apart before we were together forever. What was two more semesters when we had already survived six?

We decided early on to come home as much as possible during our senior year of college. We were tired of being apart, had a wedding to plan, and for crying out loud, we were engaged! We were finished with games, finished with doubts and questions … we were each other’s. Our guards were finally down.

Now that “kissing” was a part of our relationship, we knew we had to take extra precautions with our level of comfort with each other. Simply knowing that we were going to be married soon could have easily made it difficult to keep a God-glorifying relationship if we weren’t careful. A few days into our engagement, we set some ground rules in our physical relationship so that we could go through this period of betrothment with no regrets. The Lord had blessed us so much in our relationship, and we wanted to continue honoring Him. I thanked God time and again for a man who guarded my purity above his own flesh. I didn’t know any other guy who would wait three years to kiss the one he loved, and then set boundaries once we did. I was beyond blessed.

Saying goodbye that summer was kind of anticlimactic compared to the previous years. This time, we were used to it and we knew there was a light at the end of the tunnel. We knew this year was bound to be the easiest. But in reality, it was one of the hardest.

“Sick of it” does not even begin to describe how we felt about this final year apart. We were both busy balancing so many things: trying to finish our classes with excellence, spending time with our friends, checking in with each other as much as we could, and planning events that revolved around the biggest day of our lives. We had so much on our plates. Our nightly phone calls to each other went from being the highlight of our days to just flat out frustrating. We were sick of being together but apart. There were engaged couples all around us living out this exciting time together and there we were – hours and miles away. It didn’t seem fair.

There was nothing we could do about it, so we tried keeping the best attitudes and made it a priority to be together as often as we could. That meant many roads traveled for both of us, and giving up several events at our schools for the sake of our relationship. We were set on doing whatever it took to lighten the loads of frustration we were both feeling and the tension that it sometimes created, and honestly, it was a struggle doing so. This had been a long four years, and knowing that this was the last one didn’t make it go any quicker.

We went home nearly every weekend to be together and my Mom and I spent every moment we could in the depths of wedding planning. Every break and vacation I got from school, we spent immersed in plans and it was so much fun. We made runs to Tulsa what seemed like daily and lived out some of the best times in our lives creating this special day. Darin had input here and there – mostly concerning the ceremony, but my Mom and I had full reign over the décor and the details. He just kind of sat back and watched it unfold. I don’t know how I could have made it through that year without my Mom. She took care of every single thing while I finished my last year of schooling. She took the brunt of the worry and stress of the wedding plans, and worked hard to make everything easy on me.

I did my best to take things one at a time: wedding plans, finals, bridal showers, graduation, wedding.

Phew. What a time I had ahead of me.