So we kept it secret. But we knew. We were confident. So we secretly started wedding planning – just a little bit. A wedding date was set for August 22nd, 2009 – exactly one year after we had met.
We spent all of our free time (almost every night) together, getting to know each other, spending time with our families, friends, helping serve at youth retreats together.
Finally in February 2009, 5 months after we met and started dating, we asked my parents to join us for dinner so we could talk about marriage. Instead of the traditional “man asking the girl’s father” for her hand in marriage, I wanted my mom and myself to be a part of the conversation, since I was very much a part of the topic! We wanted to discuss all together our intentions for marriage with my parents.
I remember suggesting my favorite Chinese buffet. Skyler hadn’t ever been there before – and as much as that guy can eat – he barely touched his plate. He told me later that he was too nervous to eat anything. The conversation with my parents went well and they gave us their blessing.
I told Skyler early into our relationship that I wanted at least 6 months to publicly plan the wedding. I am a planning type girl and wanted 6 months of time to do it in! After we had the talk with my parents in February, I thought Skyler had the green light to go ahead and ask me and make it official. I was pretty impatient when Valentine’s Day rolled around and there was no sign of a ring. It’d been a week after we talked to my parents already, for goodness sake! What was the hold up?!
I honestly don’t know how Skyler didn’t call it off during that month and half between talking to my parents and actually proposing! 😉 I’m not gonna lie – I was a downright brat about it. I threw a fit that he wasn’t letting me have my 6 months to publicly plan – and I even threatened pushing the wedding back a whole year! (It wasn’t my prettiest time. I’m not proud of it.)
And Skyler, bless his heart, was just waiting for a day with decent weather so that he could execute the most beautiful proposal that I could’ve ever asked for. He patiently put up with me and my impatient antics. He had a ring since December even – he wasn’t waiting on anything but the sunshine. . . .
And then, the big day came around.
It was Thursday, March 26th, 2009 and I had just gotten off of work at 4:00 pm. Skyler had told me earlier in the day that he had gotten a big tip at work and wanted to take me out for dinner downtown. Right as I was starting to drive downtown, Skyler texted me and said that he had run into an old buddy and that he was at a coffee shop downtown, the Governor’s Cup, waiting for me inside. I parked near the coffee shop and walked inside. I look all around and don’t see him anywhere. The guy at the counter asks if he can help me, and I tell him, “No, I was looking for someone but I don’t see him here”, and start towards the door. I hear a faint “Excuse me?”, but figure it’s for someone else and don’t turn around. Then a louder, “Excuse me, miss?” I turn around and a card is thrust into my hands. I look down and see ‘Kayla Miller’ on the envelope. I look back up and the guy who handed to me was no where to be seen. As I open the envelope and pull out the card, I see it has Skyler’s handwriting on it. The card read: “This card should find you a bit confused; but don’t worry, the adventure is about to begin. A short distance from here is a park. In this park contains a special bench that faces out towards the river. Go there now! (please).“
The envelope also had a puzzle piece in it, but I was instructed to not read it yet. I knew exactly what bench he was talking about; it was at the Riverfront park from the first day we really hung out and tossed a football around and we sat there and talked for a few hours before going to a pig roast with his family. I drove to the park and walked over to the bench. Sitting on the exact bench we had sat on was a plate covered by a bowl, another envelope with my name on it and a round river rock holding it down. I open the card and it read: “Here lies the place where we first started to get to know each other. It was a nice summer afternoon that day. I remember playing catch with a football with you and thinking you were a pretty cool girl. After about 30 minutes, we headed to this bench and sat down. As we continued to talk, I knew there was something special about you. After a while, I decided to ask you to the pig roast that evening. In memory of our kind of 1st date, I have here some bacon for you. I know it’s not prepared the same way that the pig was prepared that night, but please eat a piece or two and pretend its warm! ….so after the pig roast was over, we returned back to the parking lot. Go there now! Use the key to get in, passenger side please! (Leave the platter, my people will take care of it.)”
Inside the envelope was another puzzle piece and a key to his car. I walked over to the parking lot, found his car and got in the passenger side. I opened up my next envelope, held under another river rock and of course with another puzzle piece. He had written, “Please take a seat and get comfortable. Notice that the driver’s seat belt is buckled? I guess I was thinking we were going to call it a quick night but we soon realized that we were enjoying our conversation more and more (I hope you were, cause I know I was!) During that conversation with you, I really began to realize what an incredible person you were. I was amazed that the Lord had caused our paths to cross! Put the key into the ignition and turn it until you hear something. Do that now before you read any more.“
I put in the key, turned it, and in a few moments music from my brother’s band, Falling Up, started playing out of the speakers. I smiled and turned the card over to read the back of it. “No way! I can’t believe your brother plays for one of my favorite bands! haha! How funny that was to find that out that night. Alright babe, from here I want you to head to the other park in which we have walked around in a lot! Go to the part of the grassy area where we laid down and stared into space.“
Me in Bush Park, reading his note.
He was talking about the grassy field in Bush Park where he had laid down his jacket for me to lay on as we watched for shooting stars. I drove to the park and walked to the grassy field. There, where we had laid down in the field, was his jacket that he had laid out for me that night. I picked it up and underneath was a card, a portable CD player, and another river rock. I opened the envelope and read the card. “Can I offer you my jacket to lie on? Haha. We had some good walks in this park and will continue to have them. I really enjoyed those first Bush Park conversations as we were getting to know each other and talked until late. Push play on the CD player. Enjoy what you hear and keep listening as you make your way to the next destination. Walk down to the lower field where we sat underneath an oak tree.“
I put on the headphones and started walking towards the oak tree. Soon, the sounds of a song by Thrice, called ‘A Song for Milly Michaelson’ started playing, which he had told me way early on was a song that made him think of me.
I listened joyfully as I walked down to the lower field.
There, hanging in the old oak tree was rope in the shape of a heart. Hanging in the middle was my next card. In this card, he told me the different qualities that he was always looking for in a woman, and that he saw them in me. This was the same old tree which we sat under, when I gave Skyler my list of 27 things I needed and wanted in a husband.
Then, he told me to head north to a park where he skipped stones (hence all the river rocks he had been leaving for me) at the river and we got in trouble by the park staff for being there after dark. He was talking about Keizer Rapids park, where we hung out the night we started dating.
I made my way all the way through the forest and down to the river. I stood on the bank where we had been, but didn’t see anything immediately. I looked a little longer and noticed something floating in the river upstream a bit. I walked over and saw a basket floating, attached to a string on a stick which was stuck in the ground on the bank. I pulled the basket towards shore and in it was my next envelope. He told me to skip my rocks that he had gathered for me (I think that was a joke, because he knows I can’t skip rocks. I can only ‘kerplunk’ them. . .) He also said that he enjoyed our walk there that night and he was sorry he couldn’t accompany me back. He directed me to my next location: the elementary school where we went to lay under the stars, after we got kicked out of Keizer Rapids for being there after it closed at dusk.
As I drove up to the elementary school, I looked to the grassy spot where we had been laying and saw a blanket laying out. I smiled and made a bee line to the blanket. On it was my final envelope. He welcomed me to the place where our relationship had began and told me to go ahead and put together the puzzle, and finally read the back of the pieces and follow directions carefully. I put the puzzle together, which had our picture on one side of it. On the backside, he had written “I can’t play footsie with you if your shoes are on!” (That night, laying on the blanket, he rubbed his foot against mine all night, but claims he doesn’t remember doing that). “Take your shoes off, stand up, close your eyes and count to 15.” I took my shoes off, stood up, and started counting silently.
Suddenly, I heard him running to me from behind. I turned around and we embraced and he covered me in kisses. He told me he was ready to spend the rest of his life with me, got on one knee and asked if I’d marry him. I said, “yes, of course!” and we hugged and hugged.