She said yes!
Alyssa Kayhill has been a nurse at Brooklyn Hospital for several years. She was living in downtown Brooklyn with her girlfriend of eight years, Anh-Linh Trinh.
When the coronavirus pandemic was at its peak in New York City three months ago, Kayhill, 31, decided she would quarantine herself away from her family and friends, including Trinh.
When they reunited on Monday, June 8, Kayhill surprised her in Long Island City by proposing to her in front of several tenants nearby that cheered on first responders.
“I work at Brooklyn Hospital, and when COVID started happening in New York, I went from my department and moved to ICU during the peak,” Kayhill told this paper. “At a certain point, the city was starting to shut down. My fiance worked from home during all of this. One day I was at the hospital and we were getting a lot of patients. I was taking care of really only COVID patients in ICU, I just called her and said, ‘you have the option. Your brother lives upstate. You can work from there. Let’s just get through these uncertain times. I don’t want to bring anything home to you and get you sick.’”
She admitted the decision was a difficult one but the right call given the severity of the virus. Trinh went upstate for nearly three months while Kayhill worked in the ICU at Brooklyn Hospital. With the curve flattened in New York and phase one of the city’s reopening that started on Monday, June 8, they felt it was time to reunite. However, the Brooklyn nurse had a special surprise in mind.
“I talked to my sister and said the first thing I want to do when I see her is just propose to her the moment I see her,” Kayhill said. “I was thinking about how I was going to do it. I really wanted it to be something special and one of the things that was special for me throughout the whole time I was in quarantine and working during COVID was the 7 p.m. cheering. It was such a beautiful reminder that New York is so unified and we come together. Hearing that was very helpful during all of this. I thought what a great thing if I could propose during a 7 p.m. clap?”
Kayhill’s sister lives in Long Island City and she always showed her videos of neighbors clapping for nurses.
“She said why don’t we do it here and see if my building will tell people that you are going to propose?” Kayhill said. “And luckily her landlord TF Cornerstone was so helpful throughout all of this. They told all their residents in the building that this was going to happen so they could clap during the proposal.”
Kayhill’s birthday was also on Monday, June 8. Trinh’s brother alerted her that she was coming back to surprise her.
“She didn’t want me to know that she’s moving in on my birthday so why don’t [I propose] then,” she said. “I thought that was great because she thought she was coming to see me for my birthday at my sister’s place outside and we made it seem like it’s about that, but in reality, it was about the proposal. It was like flipping the surprise.”
The result was a surprise of a lifetime.
“She thought she was there to clap at 7 p.m. for me for my birthday being a healthcare worker and she walked down the street and was clapping and had flowers for me,” Kayhill explained. “And as soon as she got near me I went down on one knee and she was shocked. She was like what’s going on. It was amazing. It was so many emotions at once. Seeing her for the first time, the clapping. It was one of the best moments of my life.”
She was shocked at how many people were there in support of the proposal.
“I was so grateful,” Kayhill said. “Everyone was excited and really cheering. People were coming to me after and saying how beautiful it was. It was more than I could’ve ever hoped for. It was a much needed moment. Even if it was a five-minute thing, it was a moment of happiness everyone could share in. We haven’t had a ton of that lately.”
Several people came out and clapped on the lawn and from their balconies.
“Alyssa’s sister, who is a TFC resident of ours, asked us to help coordinate the proposal between two of our buildings on the LIC waterfront,” TF Cornerstone said in a statement. “The newly engaged couple had been separated for three months while working on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we were thrilled to celebrate in their reunion. We contributed to the surprise proposal by rounding up our residents from 4540 and 4610 Center Boulevard to join in from a safe distance through cheers and applause, and they certainly did their part!
“We’ve all needed some uplifting news in the past few months, and we couldn’t have been more proud to support this lovely couple during Pride month.”
Kayhill also discussed the importance of proposing during Pride month.
“So many people fought for our ability to stand there that day and for me to propose,” she said. “I’m grateful to everyone before me who fought for the right for us to do that. If you go back just a decade ago, it wouldn’t be the same immediate reaction we had. It is extremely special and I’m so happy we were able to do that.”