I moved back to Canada in May. The man who would become the GH went on from Bangalore to Nepal. There he found work to do feeding street boys every day, and being their friend. He would take them to a vacant lot and cook them a meal over his camp stove. He and some national Nepali friends were working on starting an NGO that would teach these boys skills and get them into apprenticeships and off the streets.
Then, he was taken into custody by the Nepali police, along with a French girl who stayed at the same hostel. After several hours they released him because they could find nothing to charge him with. They charged the girl with pedophilia. She sometimes helped feed the street boys and they were affectionate with her. It was a bogus charge, highly politicized. At that time Nepal was trying to pass legislation regarding sexual abuse. The police had to beat two of the boys, and bribe another in order to get them to accuse her. Aaron never saw her again. The French government got her out of prison and took her home.
This began a bad period for the GH. He stayed away from all of his NGO contacts because he knew the police were watching him and he didn’t want to get them in trouble. He got a bad case of parasites. He started to get sicker, and sicker. One man who still calls him brother took him to his village and took care of him for a while.
But the GH got skinnier, and sicker. The parasites ravaged his body. He lost about 30 pounds in one month. Finally, after his letters had become nothing more than fever induced sentences about falling down again, he said he was coming home. Only home for him was in the US, and I wasn’t there any more. He chose a flight that went to Vancouver, Canada and planned to stay in BC for a week. If he felt better, he would come and visit me in Alberta. If he was still sick, he would fly straight home to get medical attention.
It had been 8 months since I last saw him outside the church in Pacific Beach. I wasn’t willing to take the chance that I might not see him again before he went home. So my dad and I drove the 12 hours through the mountains to meet his plane. (At some point he wrote letters to my parents introducing himself. So I’m sure my dad wanted to meet him too.) Our first reunion was with my dad and an elderly couple he was staying with nearby making small talk. He showed me all his pictures. He looked like a walking skeleton.
I had to go back to work the next day so we drove through the night again to get back. But he did feel better, and traveled to Alberta to see me for a month, staying with those same people that I met the first week his dad came to check me out. We spent a month talking, and going on dates, and talking some more. We talked about the kinds of things we wanted to do, how to raise children, how to educate them. We discussed theology, philosophy. We got into all of the little details that we thought it important to be on the same page as a spouse with before you married them.
It was pretty inevitable that we would marry. He had already spoken to my parents. He decided I was “the one” the day we met. It was just a matter of when.
The day before he went back to San Diego, we went out to the mountains west of Calgary for a picnic. We couldn’t go to the place we planned on, because Jackie Chan was filming a movie there. We instead we found a lovely little meadow near a brook, surrounded on all sides by steep canyon walls.
As the sun set we sat near the fire, talking about dreams mostly, things we would love to do someday. We stayed talking as the stars appeared, and light started to shine over one of the ridges.
Suddenly he jumped to his feet and said “Come on. I think I remember seeing that it’s a full moon tonight. Let’s go and see if we can watch it rise.”
So we wandered over to a place where we could see moonlight streaming over the rest of the canyon. We watched as slowly the moon showed it’s face in the sky until it was hanging there, blazing in the clear night, with a misty halo circling it.
I revealed my inner nerd again, by telling him about a quote from an Anne of Green Gables movie. (Oh yeah. I’m cool.) There’s a spot in the movie when she says, to the very unromantic Catherine with a smug C, the headmistress of the school she teaches at, “Isn’t the ring around the moon enchanting? It’s said that when a man and woman sit together under such a moon their hearts will be joined together in love forever.” To which the smug Catherine replies that she is just silly or some such.
I couldn’t resist mentioning this little bit of useless information that I got from a girlhood movie to the GH. He responded by observing that there was a ring around the moon the night we camped in the desert too.
“Oh yeah,” I said, “I noticed it then but thought it would be just to cheesy to say anything about it at the time.”
Suddenly he turned to face me, “I don’t want you to be my girlfriend anymore,” he said.
“Oh yeah,” I answered, grinning. “Why not.”
I was waiting for the punchline, sure he was telling a joke.
Instead he grabbed my other hand, looked me straight in the eye and said, “Carrien will you marry me?”
I felt the giggle still waiting in my throat sort of shrink as I realized what was happening. I took a moment to breathe. I wanted to be fully present in this moment as it was happening. And then I said yes of course.
Well, there was no sleeping after that, so after running around in giddy circles in the wet grass for a while we drove back into town and rented a few movies that we sat up all night watching. His bus for home left at 5:30 the next morning and we said goodbye again as that full perfect moon still hung in the pink light of dawn. Only this time we knew that we would see each other again. Soon there would be no more good byes.