Guest Blog By: Tere Throenle (Heather’s wife)
Hope. I didn’t know, but I hoped. That’s what I was thinking going into Christmas 2002. I knew Heather had a surprise cooked up but by now you know she is prolific in creating surprises. The plane delays in Florida seemed like a hassle but the interesting thing was how agitated Heather was. She refused to go to a hotel even at 1:00am. I couldn’t figure it all out.
When we got back to the airport and she finally gave up on her original plan and started working through the clues and puzzle pieces, I got very excited. She had taken such care in choosing the activities and the puzzle that I couldn’t help but feel incredibly loved and adored. Her attention to detail has always astounded me. As each clue unveiled the puzzle sections, I started to get more and more excited. I was sure she was going to ask me to marry her. I had given her a two year deadline and being the competitive soul that she is, I knew she would want to beat that deadline if she could.
As I got the finished puzzle together, I was pretty confused. It should have said “Will you marry me?” but it clearly didn’t! What was she doing? Could she be this cruel? No, that would just be mean.
And then I got the wooden box and I got excited again. It definitely sounded like a ring was inside. Would she propose at an airport – such a public place?
I was desperate to get the box open but I swear an MIT graduate couldn’t get into this thing. I kept trying and trying, to no avail. The poor woman in the seat behind me couldn’t take watching me suffer any longer and asked if she could help. I barely did a thing – she had it open in 2 minutes. I hate her to this day. I reached inside expecting my diamond ring and…nada. I was devastated and now knew that Heather was truly cruel.
As we got on the plane, she kept talking as if a proposal was imminent. I had hope. We went to dinner; she had a bag that was clearly from our favorite jeweler – Suzanne Felsen www.suzannefelsen.com. I knew that dinner was going to be it. I demanded my present but knew Heather would make me wait and order something first. When I finally got the bag and looked inside, my heart sank. I was speechless. I kept thinking “don’t look disappointed, don’t look disappointed”. It was like on Christmas day desperately wanting that Barbie Malibu Dream House with matching Corvette and getting a sweater from your aunt Mildred. It felt terribly disappointing. What was a girl to do but put the necklace on and grin and bear it?
I tried but I couldn’t. I became very emotional. I started to think that we weren’t real, that we weren’t where I thought we were. Heather must have seen me hurting because she quickly segued into a conversation about commitment. By the end, I felt better and felt we were in the same place emotionally – it was just going to happen differently that I thought.
Back at the hotel, Heather seemed very agitated or annoyed. I saw the poem and knew I still had that as my last gift. Heather’s poems are always the best part of any gift. As I finished reading, I suddenly felt terrible that I had ever doubted her. As I moved the poem aside, it took a moment to register that a ring box was on the bed. It was perfect.
The only thing going through my head then was “don’t forget to say yes, don’t forget to say yes!”