Because We Had Plans

Before the fiasco with Ticketmaster, several TikTok trends involved Taylor Swift songs. One of the trends I saw involved people using a clip of the song High Infidelity that says, “Do you really want to know where I was April 29?” Thinking it would be a hilarious distraction at the time, I decided to look through my camera roll to see what I was doing that day.

As soon as I saw the one photo I took that day, I started crying: it was the day Emily’s engagement ring arrived at our apartment.

To say I’d been planning out my proposal for a while is an understatement. In fact, there’s so much more to the story than most people realize because, in true form for two people who overthink their entire lives, Emily and I had plans.

I Was So Sure She Was The One

After we finally shared our feelings with each other, it didn’t take long for Emily and I to dive into our relationship together head first. We spent the night together after our first official date because we didn’t want our time together to end (and because she had to attend a graduation the next day and wanted to save time by just driving to MTSU from my place instead of hers). We said “I love you” to each other within a month of being together. She basically moved in with me after about two months… the list goes on and on.

At some point in those early stages, I asked Emily if she wanted to get married someday. She answered with an excited, “YES!” followed by, “But not until after I finish my master’s degree.”

I was patient and respected her request. But one day in early April, she sent me several engagement ring links and photos. I took that as my hint, and I started shopping. Within a few days, I found what I thought would be the perfect ring, and ordered it.

At first, I considered proposing to Emily during any graduation celebration trip we planned, but eventually we decided to postpone a summer trip because we moved, she started a new job, and we already had a vacation planned for August.

Then, I remembered that she’d texted me during her family vacation the previous August with a picture of a specific beach and the words, “This is my favorite place on Earth. It would be the perfect place for a proposal.” But that idea also didn’t work out because her brother had plans to propose during our trip to the beach in August.

I was toying around with several ideas throughout the summer, but none of them felt right. Then one day while Emily was at work, the Nashville Symphony called to remind me that I had a credit I needed to use. So I looked at the upcoming season, saw they were performing Holst’s The Planets in September, and asked the kids if they thought I should ask Emily to marry me at a symphony concert. They both said, “The Planets is Emmy’s favorite! She’ll definitely say yes and it will be so romantic!”

Of course, I had no doubt she’d say yes — I knew she was the one.

A Wedding Years In The Making

If you knew Emily at all, then it won’t surprise you to know that she’d dreamed of her wedding day since she was a young child. In fact, she’d already started a wedding Pinterest board before I even started dating her, and she shared all of her incredible ideas with me.

Based on all of that, it also won’t surprise you if I say that she started planning our wedding pretty much immediately after I first mentioned wanting to marry her just a few months into dating.

It was going to be an incredible wedding.

She really wanted to lean into our mutual love of music with a music-themed wedding. She had found ideas for music-themed invitations, cakes, and even bridal gowns. We’d talked about trying to see if we could find old instruments to work into the centerpieces for the tables at the reception, and we wanted to hire a woodwind quintet to play during the ceremony. Personally, I think the best part was actually something I discovered after she passed: she’d found places where we could order wedding bands with music elements on them.

The color scheme was going to be purple and green: our favorite colors. We’d also decided to “screw gender norms” and both planned to have a whole mixture of people in our wedding party. Everyone on my side would wear green, and everyone on hers would wear purple. I was going to be the one to stand up front first, and I just knew I was going to lose it when she entered and I saw her walking towards me.

Because we’re nerds and really wanted to dance at the reception, we had already started a wedding reception playlist. We’d decided to tie in our love of Grey’s Anatomy by making our first dance The Story by Sara Ramirez, and we had so many fun songs picked out. She also had a great idea for her father-daughter dance: she was going to have her dad record himself singing the song and then dance with him to it.

Even though she only had a few weeks to start the official planning process, she’d already done several things before she passed. I’ve gotten calls and emails from venues she’d reached out to, and she had several apps downloaded on her phone to help her plan. Knowing how excited she was really made me happy.

The Best Laid Plans

I never fully understood why Emily loved me so much, but the fact that she did made me feel like the luckiest woman in the world. Clearly, that wedding and life we dreamed of isn’t coming true now — and that’s something I have to come to terms with.

When someone mentioned how terrible dating is the other day, I said, “That’s exactly why I don’t ever see myself dating again.” Besides the fact that I don’t want to deal with the mess that is modern dating, I know in my heart that no one will ever fill the void left in Emily’s absence.

Because of Emily, I had plans. I had hopes and dreams. I knew exactly who I wanted to spend my life with. Because of Emily, my world finally made sense.

… but now that’s all gone.

I think a part of me will always assume that this is yet another sign that I simply don’t deserve love and happiness. However, another part of me is and always will be incredibly thankful for the time I got with Emily, because our love and the plans we had together are enough for me to hold onto for a lifetime.


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