How We Came to Be

It all began with a friendship, as great relationships do.

My then friend, Mike, was newly divorced and I was married…to someone else. What?! Yeah. M and I worked together, he in the mail room and I, an Assistant (Secretary). He was dating and I was pregnant with Alex. My feet swelled, I was tired, worried I would lose Alex, because I’d lost my baby the year before. I don’t talk about that often.

An unlikely love story that ended in marriage with an unexpected twist by @fillpraycloset

Mike and I have a lot in common, both Puerto Rican, both from Brooklyn, both grew up during the same time and have a lot of the same pop culture references. He’s only a year older than I am. I am funny, he is funnier, but that was it. I didn’t think of him as anything other than M. I didn’t even call him by the name people in his personal “circle” called him. I wasn’t a close friend, but a work friend.

I gave birth to Alex and that was great. Really great. I remember every moment acutely and vividly. I was alone when they brought him to me in the middle of the night to nurse. No one woke me up to let me know he was being carried down the hall to nurse. I sensed Alex coming, turned on my night light and began the painful process of inching myself upwards in the bed to hold him properly. I had a c-section and was still pretty immobile. I could linger here in this memory for a very long time. It’s one of my favorite early memories of my special Alex. It’s here that I feel closest to our Mother, Mary. I have other Alex memories that I will share with you over time. They are the diamonds in my memory jewelry box.

The moment I had Alex, I knew my marriage wasn’t going to work. Literally, the day I brought him home. I tried. I stayed. But I knew it wasn’t good. Just like I have diamond memories, I have black coal ones. That day, was a black coal memory day for me. Eighteen months later, I was moving out on my own. I got a new apartment closer to my parents, an artist loft. I didn’t need the room, but I got it in the hopes I would maybe give voice lessons. Maybe?

Within the first month in our new place, I had cramping in my abdomen. I didn’t think much of it. The night went on and the pain got worse. I didn’t have many people to call and I didn’t want to bother my parents at such a late hour.

That’s a strained part of my life.

I remember being in the bathroom, crawling down the little hall and then …

that’s it.

I woke up with my face in a pile of clothes and Alex sitting next to me saying “ok? mama ok?” It was about 5AM and I thought, I have to call my parents, something is wrong. I passed out from the pain. My stepfather brought Alex to the car and then carried me down the stairs. I couldn’t even walk. We drove to their house and to leave Alex with my mother so I could go to the hospital. While he was bringing Alex inside, I called my boss, co-worker and M to leave messages. That was office protocol. The message was just to say I wouldn’t be at work, I was going to the emergency room and I would let them know what was going on as soon as I found out.

We made it to the hospital and the pain was so excruciating, they made a quick diagnosis that it must be my appendix. My stepfather, after hearing me scream in pain (I didn’t even scream during labor, honest). He kept stepping back and away from me because he couldn’t believe the pain he saw me in. I must have started bleeding because they figured out that I had cysts that were rupturing. A lot of them. I have endometriosis, so none of this is a real shock, but it was a shock, kind of. I had procedures done before to remove adhesions and its probably why I lost my first baby.

This time, I basically had to bleed out. My stepfather left and I was sent to a room to recover. I was put on a morphine drip. Ever have that? I don’t like it at all. I was having full on conversations with myself and then in a moment of lucidity, I realized I was in a room alone. I remember the room was dark.

I received a text message from M indicating that we needed to talk. The “text-versation” went something like this:

Mike: When you get better, we need to talk.
Me: What do you mean, we need to talk?
Mike: We just need to talk.
Me: Well what are you going to tell me? You’re really a woman? If you have something to say, now’s the time, because nothing will shock a morphine drip.
Mike: OK. I love you. I’ve loved you from the moment I met you and I can’t see you in pain and by yourself with no one to take care of you. I want to be that guy.
Me: ….
Me: ….
Still Me: ….
Me: I’ve always loved you too.

In those “….” I can’t begin to explain what I saw. All the times he was around. All the times we laughed. All the times I gave him dating advice (ok, so I imposed my opinion). He never shared his feelings with me because he knew I was married and he respected the sanctity of that. However, being married at the time, I didn’t think to look there. You know, at any possibility. In fact, I was still looking through my married glasses well after the fact. But, in that span of his response and mine, I looked back with my unmarried glasses and saw that I loved him, so deeply that it was basic, deep, foundational and very real.

He went on to say that he would watch me walking down the hall with my swollen feet and thought I was the most beautiful pregnant woman he’d seen. Meanwhile, he would make fun of a belly chime I wore so Alex would hear a sweet sound as I walked. He said how he would get a rose for every assistant in the office just so he didn’t have to come up with an excuse as to why he gave me one. He would just staple his business card to each rose, signing only mine. I didn’t know. He would sit in the break room at the office and watch me work during his lunch break. He said he loved to just see me. I never even noticed. He said he knew, and made sure I wouldn’t notice until he was ready. He kept all of those things to himself. For years. There’s Mary again.

Some time during our “text-versation” I passed out. Morphine, remember? He came the next day to see me. I remember looking at myself in the mirror in my hospital room and thinking, how am I supposed to dress up a hospital gown? I pinched my cheeks and pressed my lips together to get some color. My hair? Forget it. A mess, similar to a rat’s nest. When he walked in, there was a light behind him or around him. He was just glowing to me. I remember feeling such a sense of relief at seeing him. He stayed in the hospital room with me even though he wasn’t allowed. My nurse knew something special was going on between us and said if anyone asked, he was my cousin. Mike slept on the floor and held my hand all night. He cleaned me up, walked me down the hallways for exercise. He took care of me. When it was time to go, no one was available to get me. No one had the time to pick me up and drive me home. Mike said, I’m here. I’ll take you home. He held my hand as I was in the wheelchair and he called us a cab (NY’ers don’t have a car if they can take public transportation) to go right to the pharmacy and fill all of my prescriptions.

I was put on disability and he took some time from work to take care of me. A few days later he said he had to go home. I told him that I didn’t want him to go, he said he didn’t want to either.

And we’ve been together ever since (7 years now). He will do anything for me, including come to mass every week and on holy days of obligation, be excited for me when I receive communion, move me closer to the church so I can cantor. Marry me in the Church. Raise my children in a Catholic home, even put the Lord’s Supper over the mantle because he knows I’ll love it. And he makes coffee like nobody’s business.

I never thought I would end up with a Puerto Rican man. I was raised to think that I should want to “shoot higher”, and “want more”. Whatever that means. This is as good as it gets and I need nothing more. We make more sense together than we ever did apart. This is my vocation. This is my most precious calling. I’ve learned so much from him. So much fruit has been born from this union. I know he was one of God’s most precious gifts to me.

Remember that big apartment? Mike has three children of his own and I had Alex. They all came to live with us. And now we have Gabriel, together.

I call him by his personal “circle” name now. Meet Mike. Or wait. Miguel – you gotta be in his personal circle to call him Mike. Sometimes, still today, even I slip up and forget.

If he told you this story, it would be a paragraph. He cracks me up. And he kept the phone with our “text-versation”. He’s romantical like that.

To read more about how we navigate through the waters of being unequally yoked, have a gander at this post all about the yoke-y goodness of our marriage. Be sure to sign up and receive updates via email (or follow me on Twitter) because I’ll be sharing my secrets on how you can make an unequally yoked marriage work.

An unlikely love story that ended in marriage with an unexpected twist by @fillpraycloset

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61 thoughts on “How We Came to Be

  1. Thank you for sharing your story…..I love you guys! (If only you showed the photo with Fr Heaven beaming at you!)

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    1. Wow! What a beautiful journey! I devoured both parts. I don’t think I’ve yet to read writing like that from you as yet. What deep emotion and love, but real, peppered with life. Thank you so much for sharing that with me (and everyone else).

      P.S. short people are cool! 🙂

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      1. Thanks Cristina! I get on a roll from time to time and really put it out there…it’s always a fine balance.

        I know it can feel isolating for some Catholics when they experience divorce…it’s not supposed to happen right? It’s supposed to be forever right? And yet…it happens…and I am grateful for the annulment process…I found it healing. But that guilt still manages to creep in from time to time…I worry about my children and the effect on them.

        God writes straight with crooked lines…even bringing good out of sinfulness. I have to trust more…and know that I am not alone.

        Have a blessed Sunday.

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      2. I loved how you “put it out there”. I empathize with your concern over how the children are affected by divorce. I do too for my Lexicon. Right now it seems he’s ok, but I worry about what he holds close and doesn’t share. If there are disappointments about the why’s and how’s. I keep praying that the Holy Spirit will give me the words to say that will console and heal if he ever comes to ask me. He calls Mike Daddy and always has. Mike has adopted him legally and they share the same last name. It’s amazing how God works to give what is needed to anyone who asks. Have a very Blessed Sunday.

        Cristina

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    1. Thanks Em! Sometimes he forgets the story, sometimes I do. I read this to him on Friday evening before it went up. The smile on his face was great and he said thank you. Made my night. xx

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  2. Cristina,
    Thank you so much for sharing this!! My husband also is not a practicing Catholic, but he is SO supportive of my faith and of us being married in the Church/raising our children Catholic. I pray for him daily to receive the gift of faith, it’s part of my vocation as his wife, I believe. 🙂 So nice to know that you and I have this in common!

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    1. Tiffany, Not only is my husband not a practicing Catholic, he is an atheist. Or maybe agnostic, I think. Regardless, as we are unequally yoked, I knew what my vocation was specifically with regards to my role as his wife and the gift of faith. Just this morning after coming back from mass, there he was waiting for me to ask how it was and give me a big hug. He’s great. Thank you for sharing this with me! It’s nice to have unequally yoked friends!

      P.S. I met with the Lay Dominicans this weekend. I can’t even tell you how great it was! Next meeting 9/12 (can’t come fast enough!)

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      1. Crisitina…

        Are you leaning towards the Lay Dominicans now (is that where God is leading you?)? I am happy for you…please keep us posted!

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      2. Hi Theresa, how are you today?!
        Yes, I am. After much prayer, discernment and speaking with Deacon TC I felt I was a better fit with the Lay Dominicans. Carmelite Spirituality is absolutely beautiful and deep, but there was something in it for me, that wasn’t fitting perfectly. With the Lay Dominicans, the key opened the lock so to speak. The next meeting is 9/12 (my little Monk’s birthday!) so I will get to spend more time with the group. They were really funny and very sweet. They asked me to bring tostones to the meeting!!! (Tostones are fried plantains) I got to meet the Provincial Council President as well. She was a wonderful woman. As usual, I was excited and talking about all the ways in which I think being on the RCIA team and joining the Lay Dominicans would be a great bridge to help with the gap often felt by new Catholics to stay close to God. Her response, “and keep you close to God too!” So right, so right!

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      3. Oh I’m so excited for you with the Dominicans!! I can’t wait to keep reading about this. And my husband (says he is) an atheist too. He is a baptized Catholic, but doesn’t have a belief in God. He firmly believes that to call oneself a Catholic you should believe and practice everything that the Church teaches, which I really respect about him. Let’s continue to pray for our husbands, and for each others!

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      4. My husband says the same thing!!! He was not baptized though. He was raised as a Jehovah’s Witness and when he was 12 (I think) he’d had it. Since then he’s been an atheist, but kneels at mass, knows and says the prayers (including the Prayer of the Faithful!) at mass, has priests and Deacon’s over for dinner – I could go on.

        Speaking of the Dominicans, when do you all go on retreat? I am in Region 4 but I think you may be in Region 3? How great would it be to meet on a retreat! I asked the president of the chapter what I need to do to prepare for the next meeting and he said continue to pray the morning and evening prayers, the rosary – daily and to pray to the Holy Spirit to help me determine if the Lay Dominican vocation is for me. Wait till I post about that! I did that for three days solely to pray about this. I’ll keep praying though. 🙂

        Your dear husband has been added to the list!

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      5. Oh I’m so excited for you!! Yes, I am Region 3. I haven’t been able to attend meetings recently because of my daughter (it’s just so much easier to go to Mass at our home parish with her 🙂 and our meetings are after Mass 1 Sunday per month) but I have been really been wanting to go back. So I’m going to try to this month. If I hear about the retreat, I will let you know! And thank you so much for your prayers!

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  3. Cristina, this is amazing. I literally am reading this at work with tears in my eyes (and I’m not the crying type). What an amazing testament to love you two share. I’m so happy for you that you’ve found someone who brings you closer to Jesus, after all, we are all just striving to be saints and we often need a little help in that department. Thank you for posting!

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    1. Oh, my Northern Belle. How I pray for you and your soon to be husband nightly! I am so moved by your response. My husband is really a saint and doesn’t know it yet. If you met him, you would know it in your bones too. I am just blessed to be a part of his life. Have a blessed day!!

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  4. WOW. This is so beautiful and heart felt…what a testament this is to the whole story of Jesus and our faith; love lavishly! What a witness for marriage…thanks for sharing:)

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  5. Hi, Cristina! Oohh how I love reading Catholic love/marriage stories, be it marriage with humans or with God. Thank you for sharing this! As a doctor I often find myself forgetting the human aspects of many medical experiences. We see patients, and then we don’t see them. We don’t know all other things going on in their lives, the impact of our diagnoses and procedures on people’s lives… So thanks for reminding me again! 🙂 Also, beautiful love story!!! ^_^ *girly girl mode ON* Still waiting for my own chapter… 😉

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  6. What a love story – it made my heart smile. My dad is a Puerto Rican Miguel too, although he’s always gone by Mike. Sounds like your M is as fabulous as my Dad M 🙂

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  7. I love a good love story… with or without the marriage. I find it very hard to take marriage seriously when so many of them end in divorce. It can be hard to believe men like M exist, maybe it’s because they can tell their stories in one paragraph – these guys are the real heroes of society. It took me 38 years and a couple of big mistakes to find my hero. I think we are doing the world a favour by telling their stories 🙂

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  8. WOW. What a wonderful story, Cristina — with lovely pics to match!

    Congrats on your SITS Day! You have a beautiful blog!
    xo

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  9. I loved reading your story of how your husband and you became a couple. Your hubby sounds like a great guy who loves you very much.

    Happy SITS Day!!!

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  10. Wow, that is quite a story. Sounds like God was really looking out for you and brought M into your life at just the right moment:)

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  11. Awwwww. This is one I had not read yet. All the silly, shallow things like “how precious!” fit but there is so much more I would like to say.
    Your presence to the world is a gift. I love how this story worked out. I love how YOU worked out! and the fact your relationship is so strong, now that I know the beginnings it tells me so much!!
    The bell for the baby, precious. That I can say.

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  12. I actually just got goosebumps (and admittedly, a little misty eyed at my desk)! What a beautiful and special love story–thank you so much for sharing it! I think you and he prove that there is really such a thing as a soul mate!

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  13. What a beautiful story. Just beautiful. I really don’t have all of the words to say exactly how this connects with people in my family, but let’s just say I really appreciate it. I love hearing stories of faith. Blessings on your family!!!

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  14. Ok so I thought that I had commented…but such a sweet story! Sorry you had to go through that but it sounds like it really was worth it!

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  15. Happy SITS day! Beautiful story of love. I am so glad to hear you are experiencing the joy of Christ and keeping that at the foundation of your marriage, despite your husband’s beliefs. Praying for you and your family to all grow in the love of Jesus!

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  16. I’m such a sap and love a good love story…this is too cute 🙂

    It’s crazy to think of how if you look back on things you can see how oblivious we are to things. That has happenned to me a lot.

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