Each relationship is based on a certain ingredient that will ensure that it either lasts for a life time or sorrowfully doesn’t. When I met my partner four wonderful years ago, we had come to a stead-fast agreement that honesty would be our special ingredient. We had decided on this factor because sadly I am of poor health, with health issues that despite my exuberant exterior I suffer from pain and it does affect our day to day life. No lies, no pretenses, no unsaid words – if we were unhappy we would voice it, if we were unsure we would not sugar coat it but lay it on the table. It was this that led us to the most magical engagement, filled with love, promise and hope for a blissful future.
The day unraveled like any other, with the exception that we would be driving from my home town Hermanus to his, Cape Town and enjoy the weekend watching movies, have dinner and visiting friends for my birthday. It was a strenuous two months with work and UNISA exams, so I was looking forward to the break away. Staying in different towns has not been easy, but despite all odds we have through all our ups and downs thrived and love each other more with each passing day. The weather was miserable that weekend, it will be hard to forget the slashing rains, and tormented winds howling over the landscapes. As we exited Hermanus at 5pm 21 June 2013 the dark clouds cast shadows over the countryside, we had not driven far when my partner Christo took the R44 turn off to Kleinmond. I was shocked because although we frequently visit the area I cannot imagine what we would be doing there. “It is your birthday present” Christo says with a mischievous glint in his eyes. He continued by saying that I should judge tonight because he already has an idea of how he is going to ask me to marry him, if the ring is ready in two months and I must tell him if I approve of all his romantic gestures tonight. I was a bundle of nerves and excitement as he drove into the towering mountains. We had started looking for engagement rings a few weeks prior, but Christo insisted the ring could not be done in time for my birthday (where we annually get together with friends all over SA), because I stay in Hermanus it is not often we see all our friends together under one roof as we do each year on my birthday. And without a doubt I did not question this again, I believed him in all his honesty. He had very courteously asked my parents for my hand in marriage two days before so I never dreamed that he would ask me within a month or two, he likes surprising me so I can say without hesitation I was surprised at the turn of events on my birthday weekend.
As we stopped in the mountainous terrain darkness enveloped the vehicle. I did not see any accommodation facilities and for a split second my turbulent mind thought that in this torrential downpour he was going to set up camp, as we love camping and I spied blankets in the back of the car. As we stepped out into the darkness much to my relief and surprised the wind had instantly died down, the rain had ceased and magically all the dark ominous clouds separated giving a complete and breath-taking view of the large full moon. It was an unimaginable site to behold! With the super moon around the corner just two days away the moon was magnificent in all its glorious self. The scenery was captured perfectly like a painters brushstrokes on a canvas. There we were standing hand in hand amazed that mother nature had ceased her storms, so we could leisurely collect our luggage and continue the 300 meter trek into the mountains enjoying the night views. A large river was flowing vigorously a few meters away, its water cascading over the rocks mimicked the sounds of waves crashing on creamy beaches. The lush landscaped looked eerie in the shadows, but it’s rare beauty with the vegetation hugging the ground and glistering of raindrops was a surreal vision indeed. The smell of wet soil filled my nose, and crisp clean air, the scent was intoxicating. Following some rock steps I lit a torch and within minutes Christo told me to switch off the light again. Confused at his request I shrugged but obeyed guided by the brilliantly lit beams of the moon. Without warning he turned around and bent to kiss me, completely caught off guard I clung to him. His smile was knee-weakening and I thought then and there I would follow him into a cave in the mountains if I had to. Between the glorious scenery the heady kiss I was in romance-heaven and looking forward to my birthday surprise. With each step my eagerness amplified and my nerves were building with the anticipation. My eyes adjusted to the darkness but I was momentarily paralyzed when I saw a display of tiny dim lights though the dark vegetation up ahead.
We had so far trudged around fynbos cloaking around us, but unexpectedly tall trees emerged from the shadows. Moving branches and leaves that obscured my view,my heart was hammering against my ribs not knowing what to expect. As we rounded a bend and scaled small wooden steps my jaw unhinged as a tiny log cabin immersed by glass greeted us. Through the transparent windows dozens of burning candles danced, radiating off a orange and yellowy glow. The sight was truly mesmerizing depicting an image similar to that of tiny fireflies on a velvet backdrop. A layer of goosebumps spread across my arms as I tried to digest the awe-inspiring sight displayed before me. The dark contrast of the wood and the trees enfolding this precious gem in the wilderness stood there silently waiting for us. The candles` amber glow beckoned to us through the glass chasing away the shadows of the night. My feet stood rooted to the spot and I was breathless unable to move lost in the miraculous sight before me. The small porch area was lit up by hanging lanterns draping on the beams. The unforgettable image will for a lifetime be imprinted in the folds of my mind. My eyes devoured the scene before me and as I slowly walked up the steps I saw the cabin was sprinkled with rose petals and there were candles placed in the shape of a large heart on the kitchen table too. My eyes filled with tears besieged by the emotions running around in my head. I had to swallow the emotion down and gave a shy smile to Christo who stood looking at my reactions, clearly very pleased with himself.
As I crossed the threshold into the cabin I noticed the rustic simplicity, no electricity, no cell phone reception (a pleasant and welcoming surprise) and best of all, the interior portrayed a facade of an old cowboys and Indian cabin. Its wooden walls and roof had a few beautifully decorated branches nailed to it, mirroring the raw nature outside. Christo knows I am enamored with isolated cabins in the woods, or forest areas. I could happily escape reality into a place like this and spend hours reading, feeding my vivid writers-imagination. I stood marveling at the cabin bathing in the warm lights of the candles not knowing what to say. He kissed my hand and led me to the porch saying he has another birthday surprise for me and vanished into the darkness. I stood anxiously waiting and peering at the heavens through the branches seeing tiny twinkling stars lighting up the skies on the outskirts of the glowing moon. It was all a bit much, everything seemed flawless and I wondered how he had discovered this small paradise. Our small paradise I thought smiling, and realized this would not be the last time I visited this magical isolated cabin, with the mountains and the rivers as our neighbors. I noticed that the cabin was nestled against a cliff and that the trees surrounding us had created a protective canopy above the cabin as if cloaking it, and hiding it from the outside world. Lost in my thoughts, Christo was about to turn my world upside down once more.
My mind stopped all rational thinking when in front of my eyes the dark trees illuminated with exquisite white and blue fairy lights. Hundreds of them. Never mind my arms, my entire body was covered in goosebumps at the magnificent portrait staring back at me. This was just too unreal. The dream-like fairy lights was prominent in the darkness, but wrapped around the branches, each string of lights looked like they belonged there. This was a scene surely scripted only in romance movies and I find it difficult to hold onto rational thinking lost in the moment. A huge grin split my face in half and tears threatened to spill over as I gazed at the fairly lights hearing the soft drone of a generator behind the cabin. I realized instantaneously that this man I loved so dearly must have carried that heavy generator down just to power up the fairy lights. He surpassed all my expectations as his arms encircled me in his embrace he asked me if I was happy I nodded furiously, wishing that this moment could be prolonged. The lulling sound of the river echoed across the gorges into the mountains, as the clouds obediently allowed the moon to bask us in its beams as it escaped through the leafy prison of the trees. We stood staring at the now flickering fairy lights as he whispered in my ear that he must still collect my surprise from the car. There is more I thought dumbfounded. There couldn't possibly be more.
Once again inside a soft patter of drops started to descend from the heavens once more, he pulled out my chair at the wooden table and poured me a glass of wine. He informed me proud-chested that he had prepared a delicious three-course meal for me and I couldn't help smiling at another pleasing surprise. The aromas that was soon drifting in the small cabin was tantalizing my senses. I sat comfortable in a chair, listening to the rain exhilarated by all that has happened. This must be the best birthday ever I thought sipping my wine very content. The food was divine, mouth watering to say the least! He had clearly pulled out all the tricks, claiming to want my 25th birthday to be exceptional because of all the struggles we had endure with the distance separating us and my health. I clapped my hands in delight as he served the food, all my favorite dishes and the thought made my stomach rubble in expectation. Together with the sound of the rain on the windows, the roaring of the river in the background and the bright haze from the candles and fairy lights it felt like I was in a dream. I was on cloud nine! And very impressed with my boyfriend knowing he was always a romantic at heart. I found myself on one occasion pinching my hand to make sure this was really happening. As he made the starters, a delicious tomatoes soup we spoke of old memories and good times gone by. By mains he started to my disbelief baking bread. The scent was appetizing. I could hardly control my giggles and delight, he served this with an out-of-this-world seafood potjie, my absolute favorite dish in the whole wide world and we ate in a content silence no words were needed, me still wide eyes from all the magnificence surrounding us and him obviously elated at my reaction. My mind was dazed basking in the glorious surroundings my partner had so adequately planned out.
Once finished he washed the dishes (insisting upon it as I offered) and with a mysterious grin led me outside once more. I could not believe the weather was being so versatile as the rain vanished from sight and the wind chose that faithful moment to cease once more. We walked to the edge of the flowing river and sipping our wine I stood huddled in his warm embrace. I could feel his love radiating from him and I pulled his arm tighter around me, wanting all of him for as long as I could. Strangely the white and blue fairly lights added to the dreamlike ambiance not disturbing the tranquil scene around us. The countryside was covered in a hushed silence with only the soft breeze dancing in the fynbos and the river breaking the silence. I don’t know how long we stood there for marveling in the beauty but it wasn't long before he led me gently inside once more. The door had just closed and then the rain decided to peek out from the clouds and serenade us with its natural music on the windows. We opted to sleep on the large sleeper couch in the kitchen and dining room area instead of the small bedroom next door. As I commenced to make up the large sleeper couch he left to the vehicle to retrieve my present he spoke of earlier.
I was still busy with the bed when he returned and taking the present he held out to me I knew instantly what it was. I was over-joyed, I had been planning to buy myself these pair of boots for the last few months now. I jumped up and down like a little kid and thanked him flinging my arms around him. I felt like the most special and treasured person in the whole wide world at that stage. Nothing can top this evening I told him skeptically when he asked how he was doing for romantic gestures. After prancing around in my new boots for a few seconds he set up his laptop telling me before we have desert he made a video clip for me on his laptop, refilling my wine glass he stood with his big hands on my small shoulders as I sat on the kitchen chair watching the video clip unfolded. It was an array of photos, from our early days, from all our vacations, there were sad photos, happy photos, funny photos and romantic photos. He had skillfully inserted words “that’s why I love her” and comments on other pictures tugging at my emotions. I found myself laughing, giggling, crying overwhelmed at the seemingly life time of memories we shared. The back ground music was a remix of a song we had long ago decided would be our first-dance song at our wedding. The last words on one of our latest photos (an anniversary photo shoot) the words appeared “And I will LOVE you till the end of days Xxx”. By this time I was sobbing he emerged in my peripheral vision with a spectacular rose and asked me “Will you accept this rose?” reflecting the same scenario that one of my favorite TV shows always instills in the Bachelor. I nodded and murmured yes, breathless at the sincerity shining from his eyes. He then asked me if I still thought he could not top this evening, because throughout the night I had said on numerous of occasions this is just too unreal that he could not top this night ever. I nodded yes wiping away tears that escaped my eyes because I could not imagine a more picture perfect evening and with that said he dropped to his knee and held out a sparkling ring asking me if I would marry him.
If I thought my brain was in over-drive earlier with all the romantic gestures, I was clearly mistaken because my mouth to brain reflexes malfunctioned. I could not believe my eyes or ears and for the first time in my life (obviously not a good time) I was speechless. Completely taken aback as the flood gates opened, clearly nothing was wrong with my tear ducts and I sobbed uncontrollably. I always hear about people saying ‘my life flashed before my eyes’ on near death experiences, and for some reason my mind went into a spiral I saw brief images of us together in the future, of children, a home and then old images of him standing besides my hospital bed, always there by my side when I needed him. I managed to croak out the word ‘yes’ on a whisper and that was good enough for him, as he slipped on the perfectly fitting ring I saw tears glisten on his own cheeks also. The moment seemed too perfect. We stood for what seemed like an eternity in a loving embrace before I tore myself away and gazed shocked at the most beautiful piece of jewelry I had ever seen. He led me outside and once again the rain vanished and out of the fairy lights a midst the branches he pulled a bottle of champagne and two glasses, he popped the cork and filled our glasses. A large knot formed in my throat as a surge of emotion streaked through my body, when he pulled me into his arms kissing my forehead softly whispering how much he loved me. From overwhelming emotion of complete happiness in a matter of seconds I wiped my tears and was ecstatic as I jumped up and down almost screaming not being able to contain my excitement and told him that we needed to drive out of the reserve to contact our friends and loved ones. Suffice to say we spent 45 minutes in the car outside the reserve breaking the news to everyone as the rain was in full blast once again beating the roof of the car.
It was such a dream proposal because it reflected who we are as a couple, he did not let the rain deter our plans, he was compassionate and considerate keeping in mind unselfishly what we both would love, and he went all out not restraining his love. We lay cuddling that night listening to the rain and the flowing river and I kept switching on the torch to stare mesmerized by the glistening diamonds not believing what my mind was still finding hard to digest. I was stunned to learn he had left the Go-pro camera running while he proposed and even though the video on the Go-Pro came out a bit dark it caught the essence of our over flowing love for one another in a paradise hidden from the world. I fell asleep forgetting everything else but the two of us existed, wrapped up in the fairy tale of existence my beloved Fiance had created for us, and I was looking forward to a lifetime of memories with him, having started new medication last month and now with a endless amount of love mapping out our brightly lit future. I cannot imagine my life without him. He truly is my everything!
He explained the shape of the ring the next morning, saying that the loop of the ring covered in small diamonds represents me, and the silver loop represents him and where we once walked separately just as the loops run alongside each other. The loops join, just had we had joined on our engagement night and they lead to the center forming the diamond, just like we are now joined together as one.