Come, Rejoice With Me!
A very personal post today, but something I want to share.
Or suppose a woman has ten silver coins and loses one. Doesn’t she light a lamp, sweep the house and search carefully until she finds it? And when she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost coin.’ (Luke 15:8-9)
Today is one of great happiness for me: it is the anniversary of finding what I had lost. I started dating my wife, Gabrielle, in college, back in the early 80’s. It was a tempestuous relationship: we both came into it with baggage and unrealistic expectations. We broke up, got back together, and broke up again, with many recriminations and hard feelings.
I left the country, studying abroad in France and then just traveling alone through the south of France. I did a lot of thinking, a lot of discerning, and thought I had a vocation to the priesthood. I also realized that I said and done things towards Gabrielle that I regretted. In order to move on, I needed to make things right and apologize. So on the night of January 8, 1984, I looked her up as she got off of work. Over a drink (Chartreuse) I apologized, she apologized, I cried, she cried, and somehow, by 4 am that morning, we were going out again.
Our friends had very different responses: mine all said, “Are you out of your mind! Don’t you remember what happened the last time?” Her friends said, “Don’t you dare screw it up this time: he is too good to let go!” (Gabrielle is quick to point out that her friends were right and mine were not.) My perceived vocation was a complicating factor that took some months to resolve, made more complicated by the fact that, while we were apart, she had converted to Catholicism. (She claims, and I believe her, that she did this despite me, and not because of me.) In the end, she seemed to be the only person who believed I did have a vocation to the priesthood. Instead, I found my vocation in her, and I proposed exactly one year later.
Thirty years and three kids later, it has been a long and wonderful relationship. We are not the paragon of a Catholic family, but hope that, at least from time to time, we have been a mirror of the love that Christ has for his Church. And, perhaps, there is something that younger couples can learn from our travails: it may not be easy, but it is worth the pain and sacrifice.
So today, please rejoice with me, for what was lost was found again!
Gabrielle and I have never had “our song” but we agreed that we can tell our story in music. So, after a bit of time on Youtube, here is the history of our relationship in music:
Act 1: Flirtin’ with Disaster
Intermezzo (mine): Don’t Know What You Got (’til its Gone)
Intermezzo (hers): Second Chance
Act 2: Nothing’s Going to Stop Us Now
Act 3: What a Long Strange Trip its Been
Coda (mine): Take’s the Wheel when I’m Seeing Double