Mountaintop Surprise that Almost Wasn’t!

Jessica Rheudasil & Kevin Difiore

Kevin and I met when we were in high school; he was dating my twin sister then.  Yep, my twin.  After the two of them fizzled out, Kevin and I remained distant friends as I went away for college.  It wasn’t until 5 years later that our mutual love for travel brought us to where we are today: future man and wife.

Anticipating my graduation from nursing school, Kevin planned a celebration trip for the two of us, to his favorite place: New Zealand!  Little did I know, he was hoping to make his favorite spot my favorite spot too, with a sparkly souvenir!

This story’s sequence of events begins in Los Angeles, where Kevin’s backpack gets searched at security — gasp — the backpack with the ring in it!  Kevin quickly whispers to the TSA agent, “there’s an engagement ring in there,” trying to hint to the man to search his bag out of my sight.  Oblivious, I finish collecting my carry-on and shoes, and then stick to Kevin like glue, waiting for his backpack to return.  As the TSA agent hands us the bag, he says: “Congratulations!”  (He clearly didn’t get the hint.)  I chuckle and look at Kevin…“what was that all about?” I ask.  Kevin did his best to keep his cool, saying, “I guess he means ‘congratulations on passing?’”  We proceed to the gate as I think about what just occurred.  When we get there, Kevin begins to text my best friend in a secretive manner, and I see her response, “so when are you going to do it?”  I am now certain that something’s up.  I poke around, asking him why he seems flustered.  He then shows me a small brown “kate spade” bag.  I am obsessed with the designer and he explains that it’s a necklace he bought for me; he’s upset because the TSA agent ruined the surprise.  I pressure him to reveal the jewelry, but he claims that it’s “for later in the trip.”

Over the next five days, my mind is on the contents of that brown bag.  I daydream that it’s Kate’s “i do” necklace, or better yet, an engagement ring hidden in a designer bag to throw me off?!  Meanwhile, realizing that he needs to throw me off track, Kevin spends the five days explaining that, (1) he was texting my best friend because she “helped pick out the necklace,” and, (2) that “he’d never propose abroad…it’s too stressful.”

On Sunday, we make the drive from Christchurch to Wanaka for a “scenic” helicopter flight, permitting weather of course.  And, it’s pouring rain in Christchurch.  Luckily, when we arrive in Wanaka, it’s a beautiful sunny-and-65-degrees, actually unusual for a winter day in New Zealand.  Kevin is as cool as a cucumber.  I suspect nothing.  It’s my first time in a helicopter and I’m a little nervous, but lose the nerves immediately as we take off and soar over Wanaka.  Our comical pilot points out landmarks, including Mt. Roy…where he claims we’re landing.  I think he’s joking until we land…on top of the mountain!  The pilot tells me that he’ll unbuckle me first, and then Kevin, before he shuts off the ‘copter so we can take some photographs.  Then, he suddenly goes to the backseat to get Kevin out; they exchange a few words (hushed by the noise of the bird), and then it’s my turn.  I’m now suspicious…“is he going to propose?” I think to myself.  We are snapping photos as the pilot offers to take a picture of both of us.  Since Kevin didn’t say anything, I think that I must have been thinking wishfully, until Kevin stands by my hip for the photograph and then says, “hang on a minute…”  The next thing I know, he’s down on one knee…just how I’d just imagined it!  He’s holding a beautiful wooden box engraved with “Marry Me?”  He swivels the top of the custom box to reveal a ring that is sparkling in the sun.  I couldn’t stop smiling.  For the first time in all the time I’ve known him, he stumbles over his words and his heart is pounding.  After I say “YES,” the pilot brings out a backpack with chilled champagne.  Kevin thought of everything, and was somehow even able to control the weather!  Now, if it just weren’t for that TSA agent, I wouldn’t have suspected a thing!

And, in case you were wondering, the little brown bag did have a necklace in it…from the ‘kate spade’ bridal collection.  The necklace says “yes,” and I received it later that night over celebratory beers.  Cheers!

Their special dates

Jessica Rheudasil & Kevin Difiore were happily engaged on 08/18/2013 .

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