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the rare beauty of new life

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It seems fitting that Evangeline wakes early enough on Easter morning to catch the sunrise. Yes, she's always been an early bird regardless, but it's still nice, symbolically speaking, and it is a particularly beautiful view over the Minas Basin outside her window as she has breakfast.

After a quick shower, she calls her dad to check in a wish him a happy Easter, and heads over to the church at about 7:15; Gabriel and a group of other volunteers are waiting by the front door as she's pulling into the parking lot. She joins them to wait for the door to be unlocked, and, since they're not exactly doing anything else, she takes the opportunity to kiss Gabriel; not, like, with tongue, they are on the steps of the church and surrounded by their church community, after all, but it is a beautiful day in her favorite place on Earth, and she can enjoy being close to her boyfriend, for Pete's sake. They are unfortunately interrupted when Father Felician arrives to unlock the door, but she's only a little annoyed. They'll have time later, and right now everyone has to get to work.

The next hour and a half are devoted to setting up tables and chairs in the basement for the midday potluck, vacuuming, like, everywhere, and making sure the hymnal ribbons are marking the correct pages until her brain is in danger of going fuzzy (has she done the hymnals in this pew already?). It's a little bit of a relief when Orchard announces that they're all going outside to hide Easter eggs for the post-potluck Easter egg hunt. Some fresh air will do her good.

She and Gabriel, thankfully, are both part of the group hiding the eggs and not filling them; she gets to stretch her legs and spend time with him, and maybe they can duck behind a tree and make out for a minute. She loves her blacksmith boyfriend, what can she say.

After a little while, when the diminished number of eggs are rolling haphazardly in the Tupperware, Gabriel asks, "Do you want to put some over here?" and he gestures to a part of the flowerbed that's a little secluded, filled with purple bellflowers.

"Sure." They wander in said direction, pausing to hide an egg every so often. Then a brief flash of blue among the purple of the petals and green of the leaves catches her eyes, and she looks closer to see it's a light blue egg, resting on top of the dirt. Odd. They've used up all the blue eggs in their Tupperware in other areas of the lawn. "Did someone already hide eggs around here, or is it from last year? I didn't see anyone else in this area, and that isn't one of the eggs we've hidden."

"We should probably make sure, so one of the kids doesn't end up with a moldy piece of candy or something."

"Good idea." Evangeline takes a few steps, facing away from him, and retrieves the egg from the flowerbed; it's pretty clean, all things considered, nowhere near what it would look like after a year spent in the dirt. She opens it, hoping she isn't going to find a year-old piece of candy that she wouldn't want to touch with her bare hands, and instead finds - of all things - a ring. And not a plastic ring that you could buy at Walmart as a kid's party favor; it's a beautiful, quality ring made of what looks real gold and a small cluster of diamonds.

She turns to face him, eyes still on the ring-encasing egg in her hands, and begins, "There's a ring inside. Why would there be a - " when she looks up and sees him on one knee in the grass, a quiet, nervous, endearing smile on his lips.

Oh.

That's why there's...

A grin breaks across her face. "So, you put it there."

He nods, and takes a deep breath. "Evangeline... angel." It's her turn to take a deep breath - oh, this is happening, and she can't, and won't stop smiling. "I've loved you for our entire lives. I've loved you since we were really young, even before I was aware of it, before I could put into words what it means to love you; but I'm going to do my best to, now. I just thought, Easter is about new beginnings, so..." Is she about to cry? It's a possibility. "I'd like to know if we could have a new beginning of our own." And tears are not just a possibility anymore, they are about to happen, and she can see he's about to join her, as he concludes, quietly: "Will you marry me?"

Her tears officially begin to fall as she answers, "Yes." And now she is smiling so hard her face is aching as she blurts out, "Yes, I'll marry you, of course!" and she rushes to hug him as he stands. She will remember for the rest of her long, long life how they both cry, a little more, and hug and then kiss for what seems like an eternity that she is overjoyed to spend doing so, because they have been together forever, inseparable, Evangeline-and-Gabriel and Gabriel-and-Evangeline, they always have been and they always will be, but now even more so - they are each other's home.

When they break apart, Gabriel is quiet, brushing a loose hair behind her ear and gazing at her with such a tender expression that Evangeline wants to burst into tears all over again. "Can I put the ring on your hand?" he asks, and she nods.

The diamonds sparkle in the lovely spring sunlight as he takes the ring from within the egg and then slides it gently onto her ring finger, where it rests against her knuckle like it belongs there, and it does, honestly. She had willingly given him her heart when she was young, and she will continue to give her heart to him for the rest of her life.

And of course they kiss again, and whisper I love yous in between, and she threads her fingers through his hair and holds him close. Later, they will hold hands throughout the entirety of Mass, and they will announce the engagement at the potluck, and she will hug her dad, and cry a little more. For now, as they kiss in the sunshine, she feels like the most blessed woman in the world.