I wasn’t nervous - really. “Should I be?” I asked my best man.
“Good grief, man,” responded my not too clear headed buddy. “She’s a half hour late and lives just one block away from the Church! That’s a sign man – a bad sign. If I were you, I would leave this place pronto.”
There was no chance to even consider responding. The Church’s interior rattled with the reverberating sounds flowing from the organ pipes. I glanced down the aisle. There she was - my bride, my soon to be wife. Gorgeous! Smiling! Radiant! Not a care in the world! - unconcerned about her tardy arrival.
I did not care. She was worth waiting for!
Multiple thoughts rushed through my mind. What awaited us? How would we change? Would our love last? Would we survive the stresses and strains that too often tear marriages apart - financial pressures, demands of work, illness, parenthood?
“Yes, certainly we would,” I assured myself. “We love each other. Nothing would separate us.”
I was ready to say “I do!” and to share the rest of my life with this lovely woman.
And even during the most difficult challenges we would later face, I would never look back. My wife has loved me more than I could have imagined or deserved.
Something did not seem right. But I did not know what it was.
“I’ll be back next week to help you move,” I said.
Mom turned her head to avoid looking directly at me, and whispered “I love you, son.”
I did not think much of this at the time. I thought she was anxious about leaving her long-time residence and relocating with Dad to a strange apartment in an unfamiliar place near my upstate home.
I kissed her forehead, hugged my Dad, told them I loved them and left.
My parents looked so apprehensive, so tired. I knew my wife, children and I could lessen their burdens and help them regain some normalcy as they struggled to cope with their illnesses and the aging process.
But Mom knew something I didn’t.
Less then twenty four hours later, while my wife was in an operating room some 250 miles from my parents’ home, my sister called to tell me my mother was dying.
When I kissed her goodbye the day before, Mom knew that we would never see each other again this side of heaven.
Had she looked me in the eyes, I would have known too.
Barely a year and one month later, we buried Dad.
Now both of my parents were gone.
Despite my wife’s loving attempts to comfort and console me, the anguish and void in my heart and my soul were crippling. I missed Mom and Dad immensely. There were so many things I wish I had had a chance to do for them. It was too late.
Early one morning while on retreat trying to make sense of my life, as well as the loss of my parents, I sought shelter in the silence of the facility’s chapel. No one else was there save for the Divine Resident locked behind the tabernacle doors.
I slowly approached the altar rail and knelt down. For the very first time in my life, I spoke to my Heavenly Father as if He were at my side and in a way I had longed to speak to my earthly Dad. I minced no words. I spared no tears.
Up to this point in my faith life, I believed intellectually that God was here with me. But I had not experienced that Truth in my heart. As I continued to bare my soul, I felt an unseen “presence” wrapping Himself around me, followed by a tingling sensation that started at the top of my head, radiated down through my entire body and into my feet. I can only describe this satiating feeling as an overwhelming sense of being loved and at total peace.
I no longer doubted that God is real, that He desires a personal relationship with me, and that I had to align my will with His.
As far as I was concerned then, there was no better place to be. I had no desire to ever get off my knees or leave this sacred space.
A sudden tap to my left shoulder abruptly ended this most intimate and undeserved experience.
I turned around. The gentleman who had touched me bore such a startling physical resemblance to my father, that I gasped for air.
“Hi, I’m George McGivney,” he said. “I wanted to tell you how much God loves you.”
Have any memories that you would like to share?