Last night was my 7th semester banquet – the traditional event where a class gets together to celebrate the victories and woes and crazy common experience that has drawn us into one giant, dysfunctional, loyal, interdependent family. Dana and Brent came as my guests; my whole class was there, and many of our professors, too. It was a balmy, breezy December night at Ocean Terrace Inn, looking out over the channel between St. Kitts and Nevis, and the terrace was packed with everyone in their finest (amazing the difference between our everyday appearance and our dressed-up selves).
The time for the dinner buffet arrived, and we all took our seats, laughing and talking and already starting to say our farewells in anticipation of our impending departure to the States. Table by table, we served ourselves, drank the wine, toasted the company; there are so many people here that I’m going to miss terribly! Dessert ended, and Brent went outside for some air; I went to the ladies’ room to adjust the straps on my dress, where a classmate of mine found me. “Hurry!” She said. “The slide show and presentations are about to begin!” “Uh oh,” I said, anticipating a big embarrassing shot of myself at the beginning of the show. “That bad, huh?” “That bad,” she agreed. So, a bit nervous, but grinning, I ran back inside and took my seat.
Darren MacNaughton is a classmate of mine I have always admired, loving his sense of humor and his dedication to his work, his sense of responsibility to the school and the other students here. He took on the task of coordinating the banquet – no mean feat, considering that we’re 90 strong (most venues couldn’t fit us). Taking up the microphone, he called us all to order, telling us that we were about to hold a mock awards ceremony (everyone in the class got an award – most of them were pretty funny. Our profs got awards, too. Mine was the Most Drastic Change award). “But first,” he said, walking down the aisle toward the back of the room, “someone has an announcement to make.” The murmuring started immediately. Wondering what was up, I noticed he was heading our way. “And so I’m going to hand the microphone to my friend Brent, here,” he said, passing the mic to Brent.
I think I was the last to figure out what was happening. Brent stood up, and turned to me, saying “Catherine, you’ve made the last six months the happiest of my life…” the murmuring turned into gasps and the volume in the room went up by several decibels. My hands over my mouth, I watched as Brent went down on one knee and proposed, fishing the ring out of his pocket. The room EXPLODED in cheers and thunderous applause. I could hardly draw breath. Shaking like an aspen, I watched as Brent steadied my hand and put the ring on it, then threw myself into his arms. The cheering went on for some time.
Later, Brent told me all of what he’d intended to say, but said he truncated it due to the fact that my class seemed about to split at the seams.
Catherine, you’ve made the last six months the happiest of my life, and if you would give me the honor of taking my hand in marriage and taking my last name, I would do everything in my power to make you as happy as you’ve made me.
My class – having watched as I started school in grief, went through divorce and abandonment and loss, helped to pull me through, then watched as I started to reclaim myself, watched as I fell in love – came en masse to congratulate us. Brent, having made himself an unofficial member of our surgery team by taking my place in all the back-breaking labor of large animal surgery, was well-known among my class (not to mention through his involvement in SGA, which was largely populated by my classmates – Brent has just finished as Student Government Association Parliamentarian and taken over as President for the next two semesters). Several of Brent’s classmates were there as guests, too; the news has no doubt spread through most of the school by now.
And so I’m engaged! To be honest, I knew there was something unique and wonderful about Brent when I first met him, knew that I’d probably eat my words (“never again”), and there’s more…but I think I’ll let you read it for yourself.
I have never been happier in all my life.