Shaun & I had already known each other for a number of years before we began dating. About 4 years before our "first date" we met one day when I was walking out of church from a daily Mass and he was walking in. We exchanged a few words and parted ways, but I still remember that day clearly. He thought I was "nice" and decided to come back to one of the weekend Masses. I was singing. He really liked me then and decided to keep coming back. Within a couple of weeks I walked out of a Sunday Mass to find him waiting by his truck outside waiting to "ask me out". Unfortunately, I came walking out with someone else who I had begun dating less than two weeks before I met Shaun.
At that time he slowly turned and walked back to the other side of his truck, got in and drove away. The man I was seeing at the time asked me, "Do you think he was waiting for you?" to which I replied, "No no..." (and thought hmmm... maybe)
Years later as we sat upon our front porch sipping a glass of wine I asked him about that day and if he remembered it. He did. I asked him what he'd thought as he got back into his truck? He said, "I thought... Well, I'm just going to wait this one out" and I asked "Soooo four years later did you ever get discouraged?!" He calmly replied, "Nope. I just knew the longer it lasted, the more sure I was it wasn't going to last"
Four years passed from our first meeting and while I tried desperately to make a relationship work with another wonderful man who essentially was just not called to be my husband, I learned much about myself and how it's not possible to "force" something to work that isn't meant to. Not without losing some of yourself in the process.
There were even times when this other person would ask me, "Have you ever thought about Shaun? I mean... he's so much more who I'd picture you with" I would get stone faced and respond, "WE are NOT discussing this!" and I dug my heels in obstinately and ignored Shaun as best I could.
Still Shaun and I managed to become "friends" of sorts and would always exchange words when we saw each other. I'd pass by him after Mass as he knelt praying his rosary in his work worn hands and would whisper "Say one for me, k?" He always smiled and responded "You got it kid". I knew he was praying for me.
I was busy running the parish youth group, teaching and volunteering in a number of capacities (while he looked on)
and he also got involved, but usually in more hidden "behind the scenes", humble ways (like washing dishes at the Knights of Columbus pankake breakfasts)
I liked Shaun, but didn't really allow myself to get to "know" him during this time as I didn't want to jeopardize the relationship I was stubbornly determined that I was "going to MAKE work".
During this time, I would pray and pray that God would somehow "fix" the relationship I was in and every time I knelt to pray I'd feel like Jesus was gently saying to me, "Let him go." Instead of being docile and listening I would just ask "*sigh* How do I know that's really you?" All this time, as I was praying, Shaun was sitting RIGHT in front of me watching me (I sang at the front of the church each Mass and Shaun would sit directly in front of me... for four long years) I can just see Jesus slapping himself in the forehead from exasperation because I was literally unable to see what was sitting right in front of me!
But he's a patient God. And thank that God that Shaun's a patient man!
Three and a half years later I finally figured it out. The "other guy" and I amicably parted ways after being sure that we were not supposed to marry and I began to take the time needed to heal from a relationship that though full of lessons probably lasted longer than it should have.
Still I sought to find God's will in prayer and finding myself in my 30's, any young woman who finds herself at this age unmarried and unattached knows the questions that arise not only from the many eager matchmakers around her, but in her own heart. When I was tempted to wonder if God still had a plan for me, if I would ever have children, if I would ever find the right person or if I'd have to "settle" (which I was unwilling to do), if I'd made a mistake somewhere and essentially tried to fight off falling into hopelessness...
Shaun was still around, but sort of a quiet guy. I did try to talk to him and drop hints that I was "available" from time to time (INCLUDING introducing him to my MOTHER) ...he politely said hello and walked away. Didn't get the hint, I guess.
After six months passed I figured that the signals I had thought were there over the years of him being interested (from a distance) were misread by me and that he was just a nice guy who was always just a little friendly. Nothing more. So I moved on.
Unbeknownst to me, he'd been praying to St. Joseph for God to help him to either be at peace with where he was in his life or to bring the right person into it. He thought during this time that I was still with my boyfriend.
It eventually took my ex-boyfriend to tell Shaun that we were no longer together and I was "available". His response? (outwardly) "REally? Oh, that's too bad. Well... those things happen sometimes" (interiorly) "YESSssssssssssa!!!! FINALLY!!!!"
So, I went to adoration as I always did on Monday nights and sat across from Shaun. Afterwards we ended up putting our books away and walking out together. We chatted a bit in friendly conversation and he mentioned that he heard I was moving and we were going to be "neighbors". "What do you mean we're going to be neighbors?" I asked? Turns out the new apartment I was moving to was exactly 3 streets away and less than a five minute walk from Shaun. I would live in the number 121 on my street, he in the number 122 and if we had wanted we could've strung a can from our apartments and chatted.
I was flabbergasted. I began to ask what brought him to the area as I knew he wasn't from around here at all (neither was I) and found out that he'd bought his grandmother's house a few years ago and had rebuilt it (uh... right around the time of our first meeting!).
And then he asked, "did I want to come see it?"
my excited response to the question he'd waited four years to ask me
.... *LONG pause* ...
Shaun: "Uhhhh... I have a bottle of wine. I could get you a glass?...."
JUST before he decided to say "Okaaaaay then, maybe some other time" and walk away, I hesitanly said,
"GREAT! Just follow me!"
I got into my car dumbfounded. I looked up at the doors of the church. I had just come to go to adoration, what the heck just happened? How am I heading to this guy's house? I NEVER just go to some guy's house. Especially not some guy always covered in concrete dust who was so quiet and shy that we'd certainly never have enough to talk about.
Five minutes down the street I turned a corner and pulled up to a beautiful little cottage that stood out on the street like it had fallen from the sky. It looked nothing like any other of the looming apartment complexes around. ...and nothing like I pictured his house to look like. It was even my favorite color.
I sat at the furthest corner of the room and he handed me a glass of wine and we began to talk... and talk ...and talk. Poor Shaun. As far as first dates go, I think it was more like an interrogation on my part! I asked him every difficult question that most men would squirm under... and yet, he handled ever single one with humility, honesty, integrity, grace and simplicity. I couldn't help but be impressed. As we chatted I realized I had nothing but wine in my stomach and needed to put some food in if I was going to keep my wits about me.
So he took me to dinner. And we chatted some more. I really enjoyed my time with him and couldn't believe all the things I was learning about this man who'd unassumingly sat in front of me for four years. Five hours later I drove up to my little home and just sat bewildered. I had just gone to adoration... and how had this happened? I know it was only our first date, but I knew something was beginning.
The next day I had butterflies in my stomach ALL day.
I kept thinking it was something I ate.
...I'm a perceptive one you see.
We began to see each other and during most of our initial "dates" Shaun came after his long days of work to help me "fix up" my new apartment which was in dire need of some help.
He came to do repairs and to pull up rugs and to paint and while we worked side by side, we got to know each other and I quickly began to fall in love with him. I knew almost right away that this was the man I was going to marry. Knew it for sure.
Later we found out that the first day we began dating? The day that began by inviting me to see his grandmother's house? That day was actually his grandmother's birthday and we didn't know it.
When he proposed and we set our wedding date? We also found out that was his grandmother's wedding date!
When we had our honeymoon baby baptized, She wore the baptismal gown that his grandmother had made 30 years before in our house. Made it for his sister Mary... who we had chosen to be her godmother. So she became a child of God dressed in the gown made by his grandmother, Mary, while her Godmother, Mary looked on.
I have thought SO many times about that first date. Just today Shaun and I were talking about it and I asked him what he thought back then.
He said, "I always knew when I looked at you that someday you'd be mine and it would all work out" and I said, "And I'm SO glad that I said YES... I'll say it every day for the rest of my life"