A young woman who grew up losing her loved ones is afraid to commit to the love of her life. But when he gets down on one knee to propose with a ring, the sparkling jewel reminds her of the woman who sacrificed everything to raise her. Will this gesture help her decide?
For years now, I’ve had an old shoebox of photographs I keep right under my bed. If I had to pick one thing from this house to keep with me forever and lose the rest, I’d pick this box in less than a second.
That’s how much it means to me; the box my grandmother gave me the night my parents died, a week after my fifth birthday.
She was the only family I had for a very, very long time after that. My grandfather had passed away just a year before that, and though it must have shattered her world to lose her loved ones one by one, she put all the love she had in her heart into mine.
Her name was Clarissa, and she taught me how to be resilient and kind in this world. She wasn’t very well-educated, and she barely earned enough for the both of us. But there was never a day when she let me go to bed with an empty stomach.
The woman put me through school and college, and when she passed away in her sleep years later, I found out she had left me her savings to get my first apartment in the city.
Had it not been for her, I would never have made it to Manhattan. Had it not been for her love for storytelling, I would’ve never become a published writer. And worst of all, I would have never met Oscar, the love of my life…
I remember the magical day when we first locked eyes in that cafe, and I could see how the young man was falling for me, stealing glances at me, and looking away quickly with a blushing smile.
Those who love you would go to the ends of the earth to see you happy.
I don’t remember a man so charming, so funny, and so in love with me. I was afraid of the certainty with which he called me “the one” and daydreamed of us growing old together.
I had loved and lost too many people since I was a little girl, and I couldn’t risk loving again. What if fate played its ugly game again?
So even though we had moved in together, I awkwardly brushed off Oscar’s subtle hints of getting married. I crossed my fingers every time we were at a restaurant or he put his hand in his pocket, wishing he wouldn’t pop the question. Because my answer would break his heart.
But he did. And it was going to be the greatest surprise of my life for more reasons than one.
Oscar was down on one knee at the beach when he opened a small, antique-looking velvet box. “Carrie, will you marry me?”
For a moment, I thought I was dreaming. “That ring…it belonged to…It’s the ring my granny sold years ago…to feed me!” I cried.
Oscar loved me, and he knew how much my grandmother meant to me. He often sat with me and the old box of photographs, listening to my stories and wiping my tears.
Turns out he was moved by this one photo, in which I showed him my young grandmother wearing a beautiful pink diamond ring. I had teared up narrating the love story of my grandfather and grandmother, how much he held her and adored her right until he died in her arms.
I remember sobbing like a child when I told Oscar a month before the proposal, “I was there at the pawn shop when my grandmother struggled to part with this very ring. It was the last she had of her loving husband, but she had to sell it to pay for my school. It must have broken grandma’s heart…”
I only learned this later, but Oscar had decided at that moment to hunt for the very same ring. He went to all the oldest men and women in the pawn business, and they spread the hunt among their closely-knit circles.
And there it was, the ring, shining in front of me, brought back from the past by the man who clearly loved me with all his heart.
“I wanted her to be a part of this life-changing moment of ours,” Oscar said. “And I think it’s a miracle and a sign…” he smiled.
That fall, we tied the knot in my grandma’s old house, and it’s been three adventurous years of love and laughter with my Oscar since then.
Looking at these old photos of my grandfather fawning over my grandmother, I realize, I found their kind of love — youthful, fulfilling, and eternal.
What can we learn from this story?
- Those who love you would go to the ends of the earth to see you happy. Carrie had her doubts, but Oscar proved his love by bringing her something that her grandmother had sacrificed for her sake.
- Never forget those who made sacrifices for your happiness. Carrie always kept the box of photos with her. And she never forgot how her grandma had loved her and sacrificed for her all those years ago.