It was fall during the first year of the pandemic. Businesses were still closed, social activities were limited, and cases were spiking. We both worked night shift at Quest in the molecular lab hustling to diagnose COVID-19 infections. In a time when people were separated from each other, our team grew close to each other during those long nights. After months of friendship, we started to notice each other a little more, grew a little closer, and laughed a little harder in the spring of 2021. We both knew then that something was different...a deeper, truer connection existed between us.
We had just spent a week volunteering at Camp Sunshine during the Fanconi Anemia session. Our days were spent playing with the kids, doing crafts and practicing for the talent show. At night, our group of volunteers laughed together, cried together, and bonded over the ways that the kids had touched our hearts. It was a beautifully emotional week. When we returned home, Matt's brother Nick suggested we all go out for a family dinner to make up for missing Father's Day (a well-thought-out ruse!). He suggested La Belle Winery, which has delicious food and wine. Arielle was so excited to make the drive up to Amherst, NH with the family for an enjoyable evening. What she didn't know was that Matt had been planning this dinner with the Winery for MONTHS. We sat down, ordered drinks and hors d'oeuvres, and Matt got up to "use the restroom" (a sneaky ploy to talk to the manager). It had been a long drive up there, and not knowing the plan, Arielle jumped up to also use the restroom. Everyone had to play it cool as she left the table! Once she sat down again and settled in, she heard the music change. A familiar song started playing...a sultry opening of saxophone leading into a slow reggae beat while a man serenades the woman he's proposing to. In January 2023, the Gentiles had taken a family vacation down to the Bahamas. Sitting in the warm breeze, sipping tropical drinks by the pool, they heard this romantic song written by a local Bahamian musician. When this song started playing in New Hampshire, Arielle knew what was happening. She turned to see Matt standing by her side, smiling. He got down on one knee, opened the ring box, (and in confident Matthew fashion) smiled at her and waited for her answer. Of course. Of course the answer is YES!