Words of Hope: Valentine’s Day Story

I met Shann at basketball camp. We have been married 31 years. Dad met Shann before I did, and he adored Shann. He loved his work ethic, his compassion, and his deep love for Christ. Shann met with my dad and mom without me knowing, and he asked permission to marry me.

Before we got engaged, Shann read about a man who trained a horse for an entire year to pull a sleigh. This piqued his imagination about meaningful engagements. He was enamored by the notion of time as a tool to communicate affection and appreciation. We both attended college in Southern California at this time. One day, Shann invited me for a “basketball banquet.” I knew he wanted to ask me to marry him, but I had no idea on this day his intention. I just thought there was a basketball banquet. When I arrived at Pepperdine, he mentioned because I was early, we should walk together on Westward Beach. We drove to the ocean and started down the long stretch of sand toward an outcropping of cliffs. The surf struck the rocks dramatically, sending spray and foam into the air. I held his hand and watched the sunset. I had no idea he had timed the sunset for a few days in preparation for this moment. As we neared the end of the beach by the cliffs and rocks, I saw something. I couldn’t quite tell what it was, but it made me curious. 

 “What is over there?” I asked him. 

 He replied, “Let’s go find out.” 

As we drew nearer, I saw a piano covered with six dozen white roses. I stared at him. He took my hand and led me to the piano. I went and sat in the center of the bench. I studied vocal performance and played proficient piano, but I didn’t know if I knew any memorized pieces for this occasion. Shann gently laughed and said, “You don’t have to play tonight.”

Shann had secretly learned to play piano for the last two years. He hid an electric piano in his room so that he could practice. Daily, he went to the campus practice room, getting tips and lessons for this moment. Shann has a gorgeous high tenor voice, and he sat down and accompanied himself with the song he had written for me. We were the only two people on the beach that I could see. After he was finished, he gave me a book of over a hundred poems and prayers chronicling his journey.

Shann didn’t have any money. He advertised for someone to lend him a piano for the purpose. An elderly woman with a romantic flair offered her piano. His friends helped him move the piano onto the beach. 

One friend worked at a flower shop and helped him get the roses at cost. Love overcomes obstacles. 

This was extravagant love. Deep service to create a memory of a lifetime, for a generation of lifetimes.

“Set me as a seal upon your heart; like a seal on your arm. For love is as strong as death;” Song of Solomon – 8:6