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Love and Engagement: The story of my proposal

What is true love? Is it a feeling? Is it something physical? Is it something mental? Something emotional? Do you see it? Do you feel it? Is it fictitious or literal? Is it real or fake? I've asked myself each of these questions at many points throughout my life, as I have searched for reasons to love different things, love different people and gain deeper affection for most anybody that I come into contact with. Love could be regarded as an intense feeling of deep affection and typically is directed towards a person, place, or thing. When people love they inherently develop a deep affection toward something, a fondness for its presence, a feeling of tenderness when it consumes them, a feeling of warmth when they are consumed by it, a feeling of intimacy upon its touch, a feeling of attachment upon its emotional makeup, and a feeling of endearment for what it stands for. Nonetheless, love is a powerful thing and it makes things that we would not otherwise do, or as some people put it, love can make us crazy in some of the best ways possible. Our pursuit for love does not just happen at an age in our late teens, or early adulthood, as we maintain a pursuit to seek out "the one."

People have varying beliefs, in terms of "soul mates," as some have gone as far to say that there may in fact be people out there that are best suited for us or multiple people who we can deem as "the one." While many of us can debate on this topic, one thing that we can all agree upon is that timing is everything. Timing can apply to just about anything in our life and can truly dictate an ultimate direction in which we head and the people during that time of our life that we are willing and wanting to bring along with us for that chapter of our life. For many of us, certain people stay relevant and remain present throughout many chapters of our lives, and we must say that there is no disrespect to those who have not transitioned from chapter to chapter, as timing is everything. Our feeling for love and our pursuit for love in fact begins long before our conscious memory can wrap our head around the idea of it. Many say love is present between a mother and her child that lies within her, as the love is exuded from the mother to the child in the womb. You see, for those who fight against the idea of love, or because of past circumstances and experiences, tend to distance themselves from love or disagree with it, we must all understand that if that is the stance we are going to take, that we have all been put at a disadvantage without even knowing it. Love has consumed our life before we even knew it. So, now each of us longs for it in different ways, from different people, and at different capacities. Love does not just reside in the love that we carry in unison with our significant other, love's existence is present in every relationship that we have with every friendship that we cultivate. Love is not just the intimate and sexual type of love. Love resides at different forms and we long for it from most anybody that we are friends with in many different ways. Many of us grow jealous of the type of love that our significant others withhold with other people in their lives, but we all must understand that the levels of love that we connect upon with other people are many times unexplainable, incomprehensible, and unimaginable. For many of us, the particulars of what that love means to us can oftentimes never be duplicated by other people, or replicated in a different fashion, so we must all understand and respect the type of love that are significant others share with other people. Often times, we cannot see it, we cannot see it's tangible reasoning behind it, yet we must be understanding. Often times, people are so quick to judge others on everything that they see on the surface, yet they are not willing to take the time to understand or see what goes on behind closed doors, so they can then make their judgments and opinions based on facts and evidence. Having said this, we all must be understanding of each of our individual situations and respectful of every relationship between every individual that happens before us. We all long for love right? This pursuit for love has consumed me for my entire life you could say. At various levels and differentiating capacities, people have reached me, connected with me, and changed my life by the love that they have given to me in so many different ways. We must grow to understand that life truly is about the connections we make, the people we meet, and the experiences that we share with those people. These experiences become something of value to us when they are rooted in the people that we share them with. The people that we share those experiences withhold more value with us based on the level of love that we share with them. Love comes in many different forms.

For me, my love has been rooted in sports and selfless acts of giving for much of my life, at least for much of my more recent 10 years, as people have seen the transformation in my personality, well being, and approach towards helping others. What I've grown to understand, that my love tank (my gas tank of love that is within my body, which is fueled by the things that I am most fond of) is most full when certain people reach me, when certain moments consume me, and when I am in my "element." For the duration of time I truly thought that my love tank was only filled and gassed up by the way that I pursued my life, the way I obtained certain accomplishments, and the products that I was able to gain from the hard work that I put into things. However, I failed to recognize somewhere along the way, that the ultimate catalyst to filling up my love tank did not just come from my own personal doings, it came from other people, certain people, someone else… Much of my love tank I felt was full when I was in the presence of sports and selfless people. I am affectionate at heart and I long to be touched in both the literal and figurative way, as I feel that both the literal and figurative touch displays volumes to the level of comfort in which we hold with certain people. It displays a level of warmth, a level of trust, a level of forgiveness, a level of sincerity, and the level of support that we can only truly connect with on that level with certain people. I would like to tell you the story of how my love tank became full and has remained full for much of the past seven years. Back in the spring of 2011, I met an individual who would change my life forever. There is an old saying that goes: "We meet many people in our lives and they never have a true impact upon us, and then we meet one single person and our world is changed forever." This in fact happened to me. For many people who are onlookers, bystanders, and even supporters, may never understand, or recognize, the true depths of the relationships that I have made with many different people. For this instance and this individual that I'm speaking of in the story, this is no different.

It was the spring of 2011 when I wheeled across the gym floor at, my alma mater, the University of La Verne. I made an elevator type speech of an introduction about myself, to a girl, who on a very superficial level met my eyes, and it was the figurative saying of "love at first sight." This is how I know that many people are unaware of the depths of love that certain people share with each other. I met this individual and made my first introduction and I knew right away she was not feeling the same way that I was. Was this a matter of personal circumstance? Her personal situation at the time with other individuals involved with her life? Could have been… Timing is everything… Nonetheless, I made my introduction regardless of how secure I was of my physical presence in a wheelchair that I withheld at the time. In that moment my insecurities went away, so I could simply show my confidence and my ability to take care of somebody that I held in such high regard. Her name was Catherine Logan; Catie to some of her good friends. Upon that introduction, neither of us knew where the relationship, which started as a friendship, would take us, but I knew that this woman would be a part of my life for many years to come. You see, she immediately filled and expanded my love tank two decks that I never knew were possible. It may have been her love for sports, her physical activity nature, and what appeared to be a selfless approach towards life; all of which aligned in many ways, with women that I seem to have found myself attracted to throughout much of my life. But, there was something different about her… Something more to it. The connection of love that was unexplainable to others and even to her own self. She had no idea my intentions, no idea my feelings, and had no idea of the depths that our love would reach in the years to come, and in many ways neither did I… After seven years of friendship at varying capacities and at many different levels of love, we stuck by each other sides as dear friends and sincere supporters regardless of each other's circumstances. Through other boyfriends and girlfriends, we maintained a tightknit relationship strung together by mutual interest and unexplainable love. The depths of our love reached places that we did not even know existed, rooted in of course the trials and tribulations, the misunderstandings and understandings, a mutual respect, and most certainly experiences and moments that will last a lifetime that only we can talk about, regurgitate, or give meaning to. Many of these moments were of course rooted in sporting events, as we cheered on our most beloved teams together, or cheered against each other at certain events, but always having our head hit the pillow every night with a sense of support and appreciation for the outcome of each other's beloved team. But, this relationship was much bigger than just our connection of sports and has grown deeper roots in each of our sacrifices that we have made to go outside of our comfort zone to do things that we don't want to do. Which thus have become new found passions of the both of us because of the new value in which we have placed upon the love and desires that each of us have toward certain things. The love that each of us has toward some of our deepest passions, have then become some of our newfound loves by the way that we support each other, respect each other, and most certainly appreciate every aspect of each other good, bad, or indifferent. Life truly is about sacrifice. With much writing on the wall and with all signs indicating towards finding "the one," I took the biggest step in my life both literally and figuratively. On October 6, with her family in town from Beaverton, Oregon, and with some of our closest friends there to celebrate soon after the proposal, I got down on one knee (in a much less literal way) and proposed to the woman who has stolen my heart away, in every way possible. Even her impact on me of stealing my heart away, has been rooted in selfless actions to allow me to be every bit of who I need to be, who I want to be, and to keep every near and dear person in my life at a close capacity regardless of circumstance.  She is, has become, and always will be the one who wholeheartedly accepts my physical situation in a wheelchair or not for what it is, and is never willing to give up on my pursuit of recovery and my pursuit of independence. I have reiterated to her that in every way shape or form my recovery has become much bigger than just me. Of course it was always rooted in doing it for the community and for those who have supported me, but now it has become about recovering, so I can take care of her and the children that are to come someday.

When my accident happened, I feared I would never be accepted again for who I am and I feared that no woman would see through the chair. This is not to say that there is not incredible males and females around me who wholeheartedly except me for my chair and have never left my side, because there is tons that I can put down on this paper whom all reign superior in my life in that regard. But, Catie is that one that at our level and our capacity of love has reined superior to all in an unexplainable, unimaginable, and most desirable type of love. It is a love that is rooted in true love and affection, but most importantly a clear understanding and being each other's biggest supporters even at some points barring our disagreements.

You might sit there and think to yourself, but wait tell me more about the proposal. Well I will just tell you that it was very 2017, as there was a drone involved with the delivery of her ring to us in our backyard. But, this all could not have been as meaningful as it was if some of the greatest people in my life were not there to share it with me. My best friend, who has literally been there by my side since the day of my accident, Brian Goodwin, whom is in a chair himself after and accident nine days after me, was the one who was driving the drone and delivering the ring during the proposal. A dear friend of ours, Kay Hurd, captured every bit of the action with her sharp shooting ability of a camera. There is an old adage that goes, “take a picture or it didn't happen” and there was no more pivotal time then that moment to capture a moment in time that could last forever in our eyes. So, we did. In fact, it gives me a greater appreciation now more than ever to be able to look back on that photo book at the end of my life and see some of those moments captured in time that were most meaningful and special to me. Some advice to all of you, do as your mom says and take the photo without complaint, because you will in fact appreciate it later…

So, the proposal happened after she walked through a house full of rose petals and love quotes pasted on walls of the house that I felt thus represented us, with a conclusion of a handwritten note from me with my handwriting that she has never seen before, she in fact walked outside to the backyard to greet me. Stunned was the expression she gave me. But, full of love was what she was exuding. I felt it in that moment as I have every day before and there was nothing more that could of told me that I was making the best decision that I ever have made in my life. She grabbed the box and opened it after the drone suspended it in the sky above us and I reiterated to her in a figurative sense of God's ability to always watch down upon us and keep us protected. The moment was captured and everything froze in time, just enough for her even to ask me at the end of the proposal if I had asked her to marry her and if she in fact said yes. I reassured her that she politely said yes and forever to engagement, to a courtship, and to life together at a level of love that is unexplainable, unimaginable, and most desirable. Our mid-20 selves looked at each other after with the sense of “Oh my gosh. We are actually doing this”? But, after the dust settled we even proceeded to ask why did we wait this long? Reassurance and societal expectations and standards may have been why, but nonetheless we did our way, at our pace, and at the right time.

Why do we wait so long to express and share with others the depths of love that they fill us with? Most of the time we tell them too little too late. But, timing is everything right? I advise all of you, good, bad or indifferent, to just go ahead and do it. This doesn't just have to be with your significant other, because everybody deserves and needs to know depths of love that we share with them. Often times, is the type of love that is misunderstood, or not seen by others, but is most needed to be shared before it's too late. As Catherine and I have stepped into the world of engagement, or as we know it “A formal agreement to get married,” we both understand that engagement is much more than just being busy, occupied, or unavailable to others. The idea of engagement is when one captures your heart. That individual figuratively catches you and grabs you, they captivate you in ways that you can not explain, they attract you to whom they are, they hold you for the comfort that you give to them, and they are absorbed by you because of who you are together. We have grown this understanding, as well as the pressures and timeliness of wedding planning and making every supporter around us feel loved and a part of the journey. We most certainly reassure all of you that that is our intent. As we take the next steps into courtship, we will most certainly explore in the years to come the idea of family and parenthood.

A true fear and doubt mine much before Catie even reached my life, 10 years ago at the time of my accident was: Will I ever get to be a father? Will I be able to be the father that I want to be? She has answered those questions in ways that she will never understand. I know that I will be able to be the father that I want to be, because she will reassure me that everything that I have to offer is more than any child could ever ask for. I know that I will get to be a father, because I have found the most supportive entity in my life to allow me to do so regardless of process or circumstances get better.

A very useful tool that Catie and I have used in our more recent weeks to truly connect with each other, is reading "The Five Love Languages" book by Dr. Gary Chapman. I encourage each and every one of you whom has a significant other that you are trying to find your identity with and how to coexist with, that you read this book. Yes, that still applies to people whom are married for 50 years. There is always something to work on in order to fill your significant others love tank. The premise of the book is this: Are you and your spouse speaking the same language? While love is a many splendored thing, it is sometimes a very confusing thing, too. And as people come in all varieties, shapes, and sizes, so do their choices of personal expressions of love. But more often than not, the giver and the receiver express love in two different ways. This can lead to misunderstanding, quarrels, and even divorce. Quality time, words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, and physical touch are the five basic love languages. Dr. Gary Chapman identifies these and guides couples towards a better understanding of their unique languages of love. Learn to speak and understand your mate's love language, and in no time you will be able to effectively love and truly feel loved in return. Skillful communication is within your grasp! What is your love language? Get the book and take the test to find out or take the test online.

I ask each of you, what does love and engagement mean to each of you? Do you only share that with one person? Or do you share it with every individual that touches your life in your heart? I assure you, whether you realize it or not, you do share love with everybody in your life, just in varying capacities. But, how do you explain and communicate that love to them? Are you selling something short? Are you going to say everything you need to say before it's too late? Maybe you owe it to them to tell them, just so they can sense your appreciation…