The One Where We Got Engaged.


Yep! It happened. Even as I write this  I still don’t think it has officially sunk in yet. I feel so grown up when I look down at my ring — then I laugh because I know it’s me and I feel like I’m the farthest thing from being grown up. I’ve drank more champagne these past two days then I have in my entire life, but I’m not complaining.

Lots Of Champagne!
Lots Of Champagne!

Let’s rewind a little. The boyfriend — or excuse me — the fiance (weird) popped the question on Christmas Eve. This was pretty brave considering it was in front of 20+ family members all in town for the holidays. It was perfect though and exactly what I wanted. I remember being six years old and seeing my uncle propose to my aunt in front of all of us and I always liked that. I also always wanted to say “I got a diamond for Christmas” so this was one of the main reasons for the Christmas time engagement.

Apparently everyone knew about the proposal except for me. When I walked into my Grandma’s house that night (which was the scene of the crime), my uncle told me “We’re going to have a toast to the December birthdays tonight since we tend to get overlooked this time of year.” (My birthday was the 16th, his the 23rd.)

OK I thought, I’m all for a champagne toast so count me in!

After dinner, by uncle started rounding everyone up in front of the Christmas tree for this “toast”. I sat on the couch with one of my little cousins in my lap. My uncle toasted to the December birthdays, made a few quick jokes and then rather weirdly at the end asked “Does anyone else have anything they’d like to add?” Right then the boyfriend (at the time) came walking around from behind me and said “I’d like to add something…” As I turned to face him I saw him pull out a little box and then get down on one knee right in front of me.  By this time everyone in the room was cheering loudly. I heard him say “Will you marry me?” as everyone screamed and whistled all around us. By the time I got a good look at the ring, I had tears in my eyes and was sweating from having so many eyes on me.  I was nervous and shaking! I guess I didn’t say anything at first (I don’t really remember) and later on in the video you can hear my mom scream “SHE SAID YES!” for me since apparently I wasn’t  able to speak for myself at the moment! He put the ring on my finger and I remember flipping out since I’d obviously never seen it before. Then I jumped up and hugged and kissed him while everyone continued to cheer.  It was absolutely perfect.

Proposal play-by-pay.
Proposal play-by-pay.

After that came tons of hugs and well wishes from aunts and uncles and grandparents. A tribe of little cousins admired my ring while hanging from my arm asking “What will your new last name be?”. The fiance and I snuck a kiss or two while we hugged and cheers’ed everybody. One of my brothers gave us a bottle of champagne (since of course he was in on it too). Then I called and sent out pictures to all my best friends. The fiance sent out a text to his friends and family that said “The deed is done”.

It was absolutely perfect — the proposal, the family setting, the ring, the celebration. I am stunned. I’m not sure how much happier I can get! My fiance and I are on cloud nine and absolutely thrilled. The ring has a diamond in it that has been in my family for over 200 years. The diamond itself is part of an original set of  earrings that was worn in the 1800s. My middle name is Beatrice, which was my Great Grandmother’s name. The diamond was worn by Beatrice herself, but at that time it was still a pair of earrings. The diamond is one of the earrings and has now been reset into a beautiful platinum silver band. Just knowing that this diamond has been in the hands of so many great relative females is so special to me. (I hope I do them proud!)

Now everyone is asking us when the wedding is going to be. Pre-engagement we had talked about it being summer of 2015 and that’s still the plan. No official date yet, but we have plenty of time for planning. Right now we are just trying to live in the moment and celebrate this time in our lives. On Christmas Day the fiance and I were alone in the kitchen refilling some champagne glasses (of course). One of my brothers walked in as the fiance and I kissed between sipping our drinks.  “HEY!” My brother said to us as we looked up from kissing. “It’s not like you two have anything to celebrate or be happy about right!?” We all laughed and the fiance and I both took a sip while we grinned from ear to ear at each other…

Here’s to the best Christmas ever.


Running with the Angels: R.I.P to a Friend


6 a.m. this morning and my heart still hurt. I dragged myself out of out bed like I had dragged myself through my classes and meetings for the past two days. I was there physically, but that was about it.

Replaying a phone call I had gotten at 12:10 a.m. Monday morning, I threw on some running clothes and zipped up my coat this morning, the world was still dark outside. I thought about picking up the phone call,  thinking my friend from work was laughing because I couldn’t understand him at first, then it hit me, he was crying.

Katie Iarussi, a friend and coworker, had been killed Sunday evening around 5 p.m. in a head-on collusion on the way back from her boyfriend’s house. A young man, just 29 years old, was also killed and he and my friend were both pronounced dead on the scene when the police arrived. My friend was just 20 years old and went to Kent State University. I had worked with her at Giant Eagle. (Record Pub Article.)

I got to the gym replaying memories of seeing Katie working out there.

I started my run off slow. So many emotions filled my head. I had gone through the past two days on autopilot, not being able to find comfort in anything. I could still picture Katie standing in my kitchen, joking with other coworkers. I could still hear the way her voice sounded, the funny voices she used to make, the jokes she used to tell. I imagined working next to her for over a year, suddenly stocking a simple shelf with her at work became a painful memory to think about. I wish she was still here. I wish we were still stocking shelves together, cracking jokes to keep the time moving.

I cranked my iPod up as loud as it could go as I increased my speed on the treadmill. Music had done nothing for me the past two days. No song could adequately express how I was feeling, no lyric could comfort my heart that was breaking. I kept thinking of her mom, of her best friends. I had been lucky enough to work with her, to hang out with her a few of times, to have her in my phone book. But what about the others? What about her boyfriend who she had just seen right before the accident happened? What were her best friends doing? Were they cherishing every last text she sent? Were they looking at pictures that they had taken a few days prior? How does life go on when suddenly someone is just gone?

I put all my energy into my run, knowing it was my only hope of feeling a little tiny bit better. If there was anything that could make me feel better, it was running.

But the sadness came as I ran.

I was so sad to picture her family at Christmas without her. It was painful to imagine her family’s heartbreak as they went through her stuff. I was overcome with emotion when I thought of her best friends who had grown up with her and now suddenly she was gone and they never got to say goodbye.

I thought about Katie not even having time to reach the milestone of turning 21. I felt tears when I realized Katie would never know what it’s like to walk down a church aisle to see someone she loved standing there waiting for her,  she would never hold a newborn baby in her arms and know that it was her’s – two things that mark the very top of my list when I think about what I want in life.

Katie was always a goof ball and insanely funny.

I am so sadden to know Katie is no longer here. I can’t even begin to express my confusion… why her?

I was coming home from my boyfriend’s house about an hour after Katie’s accident on Sunday evening. How did I make it home and she didn’t? How am I still here on this earth, able to hug my mom, to laugh with my best friends, to kiss my boyfriend . . . and she isn’t?

I keep replaying talking to her at last year’s Giant Eagle Christmas party, she had no idea she had just a little less than a year left on this earth.

One of my best friend’s told me the other day that God chooses the most beautiful angels to be up there with Him. I know Katie is up there in heaven watching over us. Katie had the most sincere, hilarious sense of humor. She probably has God himself laughing right now.

I finished my run and packed my stuff up to go home. A run had made me feel a little better because I had begun to realize how lucky I am. I had begun to understand that Katie didn’t need a lot of time to make such an impact on everyone, she had done it in just 20 years.

I know so many people who will think of Katie throughout the rest of their lives, myself included.

You don’t need a lifetime to make a difference, you don’t need a year or two. You need a heart that is sincere and a smile that is genuine, and that was what Katie had.

R.I.P Katie Iarussi. You made the world a brighter place and I know you are having one heck of a time up there with the other angels.

Katie (left) with a friend in NYC

“People like her don’t come along very often, and I feel like maybe that’s why they aren’t with us as long. They don’t need a whole lot of time to make such a great impact.”

                               – one of Katie’s best friends in a Kent Stater article