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  • Writer's pictureClarissa Tapia

The Secret Proposal 💍

Updated: Sep 7, 2019

For the past few months I have been the bearer of a really big secret. A secret so big, that if it had been uncovered, would have ruined one of the best surprises I’ve ever been a part of! So, a while back, my best friend’s boyfriend reached out to me detailing a top secret plan to propose to my best friend, Cassie. This secret would require:

traveling 🧳

secrecy 🤫

and duplicitous stealth 👻

The plan was that her now fiancé, Chris, would take Cassie to visit his family in Missouri for Labor Day weekend using the perfect cover of his mom’s birthday as the reason behind the visit. All of Cassie’s family, and her best friends would show up prior to their arrival to the party and surprise her while Chris proposed!

Months of planning finally came to fruition this past weekend and it turned out beautifully! I had the chance to meet Cassie’s fiancee’s family pretty intimately because I was the first to arrive (and the last to leave LOL). I’m so happy to report that Missouri did not disappoint. My eyes were instantly drawn to the greenery surrounding everything I could see. They say there’s nothing like seeing something for the first time, its literally like looking at something through a child’s eyes - with wonder, elation and pure joy.

My adventure began on a Friday where I took a flight from Yuma to Phoenix and then Phoenix to Kansas City, Missouri. My flights went by without a hitch, definitely a lot of layover time to work on projects, read and people watch. I arrived in Missouri and was greeted by two of the kindest people I have ever met, Gwen and Joe. You see, it literally took a village to make this plan work and with the host family busily preparing for everyone's arrival, they reached out to friends all around town to help make this surprise possible. Gwen and Joe drove me from the airport to the Kerford headquarters where the whole shebang was going to go down the next day. The 30 minute drive flew by as I learned about Missouri and about my travel companions. I felt nervous as I arrived to my destination because I knew no one, and here I was, a stranger seeking asylum thousands of miles from home. These nerves were short lived though because the Kerford family was not only welcoming, they also opened up their hearts to me and all the other travelers that tricked in a day later. I ate meatloaf for the first time that night and enjoyed a beautiful evening telling and hearing stories about how we imagined the big day was going to go. We sipped hot chocolate and curled up in our chairs until I couldn't bear to keep my eyes open any longer. I bid the family goodnight and headed to my room for the night which was more like an apartment in a basement - first time sleeping in a basement - a lot of firsts on this trip!

The next day I woke up thinking today is going be special. I was so excited! I headed upstairs in search of coffee and was quickly invited on a family jog to which I couldn't refuse. Usually, on vacations you think you're going to exercise and pack all the necessary clothes that you never actually touch during the trip, (unless you wear it to the airport LOL) but this time was different! I ended up running three miles with Chris's brother Alex, his wife Maria and Chris's sister Rachel. I wish I could run in such breathtaking scenery every day - have you ever run next too cornfields taller than you? So Cool! We definitely earned out breakfast and coffee that morning! Afterwards, I helped Chris's mom, Karen, make collages out of pictures of the happy couple. Karen was telling us Chris texted her that morning that it felt like Christmas for him - Aww! :) I showered and dressed after that - just in time for the arrival of Cassie's family and friends, the plan was beginning to come to life! We all gathered on the back patio as we waited for the guests of honor to arrive! Keep in mind Cassie had no idea that any of us were there which explains much of her confusion as she arrived and caught sight of all of us.

Her biggest surprise was seeing her mom, Sandra, who had to physically flip her around to see her beau down on one knee! Apparently Chris had an entire speech prepared for the occasion but says he blanked in the moment, (totally understandable!) but was luckily able to utter the little four-word phrase that will change both their lives forever. Chris embraced Cassie intimately after she said Yes and there were instant whoops of joy and clapping from the large crowd gathered for the occasion. She was so happy! I hadn't seen Cassie in at least two-years, and although we live thousands of miles apart, our friendship remains steady. My heart soared to see her so happy and surrounded by so many people who clearly adore her.

The big surprise was followed by an enormous meal prepared by friends of the family including brisket, cheesy potatoes, honey baked beans, rolls and obviously cake! I found during my time here, that St Joseph is a really tight knit community willing to go above and beyond for friends and family. You don't see that kind of selfless kindness as much anymore, and it was very special to see how a community of all ages came together to celebrate the happy couple. It was an honor spend the weekend with such beautiful souls.

The rest of my time in Missouri was spent enjoying time with Cassie, her family and the Kerford Family. We ate, we talked, played games and thoroughly relished the time we all had together. There was homemade apple pie and ice cream, games of frisbee, and one called Mafia that is just as savage as it sounds! That one quickly got out hand, but served up some serious laughs before we had to fizzle the game out. :)

The last day of my trip began with laughs and Starbucks - is there really a better way to start your day? Spending time with Cassie and her family made me reminisce on all those college adventures that led to the friendship we still have today. Cassie and I met my freshman year of college and we instantly hit it off as nerdy study buddies and soon I was spending weekends with her and her family - even going to church with them, which really made my mom happy :) haha! We lived together on a third floor apartment in the heart of Downtown Phoenix from our sophomore year all the way to graduation. We laughed together, fought together and literally made some of the most questionable decisions you can imagine. Through it all though, we stuck it out with each other and I still remember cleaning up our place and packing up one last time. It was really sad. She was headed back to Texas and that would be the start of our long distance friendship. It's been five years since we graduated and although we don't share the same day to day news as we used to, my heart still fills each time I see her and talk to her. Being able to witness in real time how loved she is by so many people especially her now fiancé, Chris, makes me so happy.

“Growing apart doesn’t change the fact that for a long time we grew side by side; our roots will always be tangled. I’m glad for that.” – Ally Condie

I was the last to leave Missouri and Chris's mom, Karen, being the ultimate host gave me a one-on-one tour of the town to kill time before my flight home and all I can say is she is the best tour guide! I saw some of the coolest tree-lined streets, visited Downtown St Joe, stuck my hand in the Missouri River and savored my last day of cooler weather in good company. Here's a short video on my last few hours in Missouri.

I am thankful for the time spent with the Kerford family, the Castaneda Family and all the friends I met during my stay. I am most thankful though for being a part of such a beautiful new chapter in Cassie's life. Her and I are in very different stages of life right now and before I left for the trip and even in the weeks leading up to the trip I prayed to the Big Guy and asked him to give me courage and strength during the trip to see beyond myself so that I could be genuinely happy for her. She deserves nothing but happiness. I would be lying if I said the whole thing didn't make me emotional at one point or another, but I was looked after by both God and my best friend who took the time to check in with me regardless of her wedding high and it meant the world to me. She even told me I was brave, in the exact moment I needed to hear it most. For that I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Cheers to your upcoming wedding Cass - you are going to make Chris the happiest (and luckiest!) man in the world. :)

All I really have left to say is...



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