Hey everyone it’s ya boi Shawn. By now you’ve already read Erika’s great blog post about our trip to Denver and subsequent engagement story (and if you haven’t click this link). It’s a pretty incredible story, not just the vacation, but also our relationship and the impact it’s had on her life. The engagement itself was damn near perfect, because it happened on top of a mountain at sunset (classic engagement story stuff). The crazy thing is though… it almost didn’t happen.
That’s a pretty cliche bombshell to drop on you guys but it’s true. In order to understand why our engagement story almost didn’t happen, we need to go all the way back to Spring 2016. I was living in Edmonton with a woman who was NOT Erika (shocking!) and was in… love? In love enough to want to marry this person. Her cousin is a jeweller in the United States, and so her and I started designing a ring. So began my almost engagement story.
A Sudden Change of Plans
We spent months messaging back and forth, designing the perfect ring for my partner. Rose gold band, rough cut diamond flanked by smaller black diamonds, pieces of her grandmas jewelry melted down and fused into the ring. This thing was a killer. The only thing standing between me and that ring was money. Flash forward to mid May. She had been out of town all weekend. That Monday I went to a concert with her brother, asked for his permission to marry his sister, he happily gave it. Wednesday I made arrangements to start paying for the ring. Friday I got my paycheque that was going to serve as the first payment. I came home, walked into the living room, sat down on the couch and was swiftly broken up with. She didn’t give me any explanation, she just left. I was devastated. Engagement story ended before it even began.
My future was gone. Everything we’d worked towards over the past 2 years, was gone. All the dreams and ambitions we’d had, gone. Besides that, traditional break up stuff. I left Edmonton and moved back into my parents house in Regina, immediately downloaded all the dating apps and got to work. My last relationship rocked me so bad that I made it very clear in my profiles that I was not looking for another. And I wasn’t… until I met Erika.
Online Dating: Not So Bad.
We met on OKCupid and were a 99% compatible match. On our first date it was clear that those numbers were correct. Erika was unlike anyone I’d met up to that point. She was funny, crass, spoke her mind, wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable. She was perfect. We spent 10 hours just talking on that first date… and it was awesome! After that first date, I deleted all my apps. I knew that this woman was something special and I wanted to spend all my time with her. Our relationship grew. We decided to buy a school bus and convert it into a tiny home. Together, we made plans for our future. And then one night while we were lying in bed, she told me she loved me. And I couldn’t say it back.
A Slow Unravel
When someone you love and trust hurts you, it leaves scars. I thought mine had healed but hearing Erika say those 3 words made me realize that they had not. For the next few months I was a slowly unraveling mess. The pain and hurt left over from my last relationship whipped up a tornado in my mind. I agonized over the emotions. One thought kept popping up over and over again, ‘How could I deal with these problems I was having, while trying to love someone else?’. I decided that I couldn’t and on December 28th 2016, I broke up with Erika.
It was one of the worst things I’ve ever done. After she left I noticed her car was still in the driveway. I crept up and looked out the window. There she was, sitting in the car. The hurt and pain on her face. The tears. I caused all of that, and I made damn sure I saw it. It’s an image I won’t ever forget.
What a Dumb Dummy
After that, nothing really changed. I moped around, trying to deal with this emotional baggage. New Years came and went. We had a tense text conversation just after midnight. She was not doing well either. A day or two after that she asked if we could talk. She came over and showed me what a dumb dummy I was being. There was no reason for me to go through this alone, there was no reason I had to suffer. She was going through a similar thing because of her Ex, and maybe we could heal together.
Erika made me see that she really, truly cared for me. So, we agreed to get back together and try. The craziest part was, that was what it took to help me heal. Erika showed me that I was worthy of being loved, that I didn’t deserve to be alone. We poured it all out that day. She saved me.
Flash forward a year and a half, and we’re shooting a wedding on the hottest day of the year. The whole event was amazing, the couple were beautiful and the photos turned out great. Our job was done for the day and so, since we’re friends with the couple, we were hanging around at the reception. As we walked, hand in hand, through the alleyway to the backyard there was a moment. The lights, the music, the atmosphere, the way Erika amplified all those things. I looked at her and a thought popped into my mind. ‘Marry her’. The next week I went out and bought a ring. So began our engagement story.
Our Engagement Story
The entire trip I kept fighting the urge to propose to Erika because I had decided to wait until Alex was taking photos. ‘Just wait until Alex gets here’, I had to keep reminding myself. It was hard! Standing at the base of The Devil’s Tower, walking through the Denver Botanic Gardens, finishing an Italian dinner on a private patio. All of these amazing moments, but they weren’t the perfect moment. Thankfully the day finally arrived and after driving through the mountains we finally found a spot. The light was perfect, the view was perfect, the photographer was perfect, but the most perfect thing was the look on Erika’s face when she saw me down on one knee. I’ve only made her cry twice and I’m glad this one came second.
I love this woman with all my heart, more than I thought I was capable of. She gives me strength and reminds me of all the good things in life. She keeps me grounded but most importantly, makes me dream of the stars. I almost lost everything and she believed enough in me to make things right. I can never repay her for that. However, I can marry her and love her for the rest of our lives. That sounds pretty good to me. 😉
(A HUGE thank you to Alex of Alexandra Dugan Photography for our amazing photos and for not even skipping a beat when I dropped to one knee and surprised everyone present.)