Sarah C. Godfrey first met J. Michael Beckham ’12 in the fourth grade.that day she went home from school and told her grandmother, “I’m going to marry Michael Beckham.”
Godfrey’s prediction is about to come true as the two are set to marry in August.
“He was really nerdy and sweet. I just knew in my heart,” Godfrey said.
The couple grew up together in Abilene, a small town in western Texas and dated in high school, but they broke it off during their freshman year of college.
Godfrey left Abilene to study musical theater performance and child and adolescent mental health and development at NYU, and Beckham decamped for Cambridge where he has studied philosophy, though after graduation he will be taking courses to complete his pre-med requirements.
During the spring of their freshman year, finding themselves far from Abilene, the friends decided to meet in New York, ice skating and going to the top of Rockefeller Center. On their way down from the Rock, they found an empty room where Godfrey performed some musical numbers, luring him “like a siren,” she quips. In an abandoned Columbus Circle, they found a lone, late-night jazz musician, and Beckham taught Godfrey how to swing dance. In the morning, they rose early to watch the sunrise from the Brooklyn Bridge.
When Beckham left New York, the couple was not certain they wanted to pick up their relationship once more. But both were back in Abilene for the summer, and they decided to get back together. For the past three years, they have worked to navigate a long-distance relationship between New York and Cambridge, a challenge they say has required effort, sacrifice, and some clear-eyed assessments of their mutual day-to-day.
“We both wanted to make sure that we were going to do it in a way so we could have full lives in our respective worlds,” Beckham says.
So when the time came to propose, Beckham’s mind drifted back to that weekend in New York when the two had reconnected. Bringing with him photos and little mementos, Beckham took Godfrey on what he calls “a trip down memory lane” after the two had gone out to dinner that night. Godfrey says she had a nagging feeling that Beckham might propose, but when the night seemed to come to a close without Beckham popping the question, she convinced herself that now wasn’t the time.
The next morning, Beckham and Godfrey woke for another early morning trip to Brooklyn Bridge to catch the sunrise. As they walked up on the bridge, Godfrey, thinking that Beckham had decided not to propose, decided to tell him the story of a man she had seen propose on the bridge to his girlfriend. The man had fumbled the ring, and it had fallen into the water below. Distraught, the man had vaulted over the bridge’s railings of the walkway in search of the lost ring. Meanwhile, the woman stood on the bridge sobbing.
As she told him this story, Beckham was fingering the ring in his pocket.
“If my hand wasn’t shaking already then it certainly was after that,” Beckham says.
Nonetheless he mustered some courage, proposed, and managed to hold on to the ring—she said yes.
The two will be married at Andrew Jackson’s estate on Aug. 16 outside Nashville, Tenn., where Godfrey has family.