Tag Archives: Family

On my Sister’s Engagement

Standard

Hello everyone! My name is Teresa. I’m Selina’s older sister and Matron of Honor. First, I just want to say how happy I am that we have all just witnessed this truly beautiful sacrament of Holy Matrimony between Selina and Andrew. And I have just one thing to say about it… FINALLY.

In all seriousness, though, this has been a long journey.  Selina was saying that as of yesterday, she and Andrew had been engaged for seventeen months.  Now, I know that they didn’t necessarily plan their engagement this way, and it’s been difficult for them to wait so long to finally be married.  But I just want to say that it has been one of the most beautiful engagements I’ve ever witnessed.

I was blessed enough to move home just a couple months before Selina and Andrew were engaged, so I was able to be there—and to be with Selina—for much more of it than I would have otherwise. As Selina’s older sister, I can say that she and Andrew both have grown so much these past seventeen months, and I want to tell you all about a few of the virtues that I’ve witnessed in their engagement—that I know now are going to be hallmarks of an amazing marriage.

I think the first big challenge in Selina and Andrew’s engagement came the spring after Andrew proposed, when they decided it would be best for Andrew to take an opportunity to work and teach with a school in Urbil, Iraq.  I remember Selina coming into my room shortly after they’d made the decision, and she was just crying.  At first I thought she was crying because it would be so hard for her to be away from Andrew.  But in fact, Selina was crying from joy! Because she was grateful for the opportunity, because she was grateful for Andrew’s courage in taking the position, and because she was filled with an unexpected peace that they would emerge from that challenge all the stronger.

It was beautiful to see Selina’s faith in that moment—faith in God, in Andrew, and in their relationship.  In that moment, my little sister’s maturity and self-sacrifice amazed me.

And then, as you all know, Andrew was accepted into Officer Candidate School midway through his time in Iraq.  And he and Selina made another difficult decision: for him to come back, go to Rhode Island, and commit to the U.S. Navy. One of the biggest challenges that came with that decision was that the timing of this whole wedding was thrown into complete turmoil.  As was mentioned last night at the rehearsal dinner several times, both Selina and Andrew are planners. Andrew’s being in the US Navy made it really difficult for them to begin to plan either this wedding or the rest of their lives together.

But again, I witnessed Selina rise to the occasion with so much sweetness and grace.  You all should have seen her in the months leading up to this day. Her concern with the material details of planning a wedding sort of fell away, and she told me, “I don’t care.  I just want to be married.” I admire so much Selina’s ability, amidst the stress of planning a wedding (not to mention being IN SCHOOL), to focus on what really matters. Because your marriage is your vocation.  It is THE MOST important thing that God has put in either of your lives.  Everything else is secondary. And you have both shown that you understand that.

Andrew, I am so happy to welcome you into our family.  Because I see these things about Selina—that she is selfless and faithful and sweet and gracious—but I think you see them even more.  You see that you are the luckiest man in the world, because you could not ask for a better wife.

And Andrew, I want to tell you one more thing that I think you know: Selina is so proud of you. She is so proud, that I am sometimes embarrassed to take her out in public because I know as soon as I turn my back she’ll start talking to a complete stranger about you and your accomplishments, and this day, the day she gets to be married to you.  You deserve that pride she has in you.

This has been a long journey for you both.  But you have shown that you have faith in God, you have faith in each other, you can roll with the punches and you can come up with the knowledge of what is most important in life.  You are going to have an exceptional marriage, and I could not be more proud.

Congratulations Selina and Andrew.  Many blessings for a beautiful marriage and life together.  I love you.

Help with Gratitude.

Standard

I wrote this post for Thanskgiving. Please mock me, because it is super late, but I just couldn’t post it right away.

This has been a difficult post for me to write, and I have to warn you, it is long.

 On the Monday morning (before Thanksgiving), my father had a serious stroke. It started with sudden double vision and quickly progressed not only to inability to move the left side of his body, but also ignorance of its existence.

My dad, who has run every other morning for the past 30 years of his life, could not walk. My dad, who loves good food and wine, could not swallow. My dad, who loves to read everything from Homer to Henry James, could not see straight. My dad, who teaches not only his students and in class, but everyone and always, could not speak.

I found out all of this on Monday evening, and I can say, bar-none, it was the worst feeling I have ever had. Yet as my mom described all of this over the phone, I received the first of a series of calls to GRATITUDE.

This is the story and the list of things I am grateful for this year.

My parents’ marriage


When he suddenly developed double-vision, the first thing my dad did was call my mom and tell her that he needed her to come. And she did. Immediately. When she got there, she knew something was wrong and was about to take him to the Emergency Room. However, seeing that he had lost his left side, she called UD campus safety for an ambulance instead.

UD Campus Safety

Rather than simply calling and directing the ambulance to the correct building at UD, the head of campus safety rushed up to see and help my dad. As soon as he got there, he called back to warn the EMTs that it was a stroke so they would be as prepared as possible.

Dallas EMTs

When they arrived, the EMTs knew not to take him to the nearest hospital or to the the hospital where his GP practices, but rather to the Parkland stroke center.

A Forest of Neurologists

Because of the advance warning of a stroke, my dad was met at the door of the hospital by no fewer than 10 neurologists whose sole responsibility was to figure out the exact time and severity of onset of his stroke BECAUSE…

Miracle Drugs


No. Really. There is a drug that I do not understand, but if taken within a 3 hour window of stoke onset can work miracles. Outside of that window, it is extremely dangerous and can make things worse.

God’s Timing

My dad made the window. But, lest you think that 3 hours is plenty of time, let me stress something: he BARELY made the window. Moreover, if he had been taken to the ER, they would not have had access to this drug. If he hadn’t been taken directly to the stroke center, they would not have had access to this drug. If they hadn’t known he was coming, the neurologists would not have finished the necessary tests in time and they would not have had access to this drug. If my mother had not had the courage to say yes to this drug, he would not have had access to this drug.

Prayers


Remember Dr. Roper? The professor who has been so important both to my and to Teresa’s lives? He has the office down the hall from my father, so when he found out, he called his wonderful wife, who sat her two sons down and began to pray a novena for my father. My mom has the exact time-line, but that is when the miracle medicine began to actually work and my dad began to come back. (Also, my mom would like for me to add that Dr. Roper was also at the Emergency Room 10 minutes after she was, making ready to help in any ways necessary.)

My dad

Since that time, my dad has recovered completely. He can read, walk talk, speak Italian, and see. (Actually, just as the double vision was the first to come, and it was the last to go. His double vision finally went away just as he was looking at my mother, and so, paraphrasing something he said after they first met, he said,“You are (the) one.”)

The Church

On Tuesday, priest from my parents’ church came, expecting to perform Unction for the Sick. Instead, all there was to do was simply say prayer after prayer of thanksgiving. Because there he was.

My mom said something last night, and it seems so important: “The church understands that we need help with gratitude.”

Really, you would think my father sitting there reading and smiling and talking would be reminder enough of gratitude. Yet, I cannot help realizing that “needing help with gratitude” has two meanings.

1. Employed, blessed, loved, and sheltered as I am, I constantly forget to be grateful.

2. Even when we remember to be grateful, sometimes it is so terrifying to know how. Gratitude is frightening.

Somehow I always forget the root word of both “grace” and “gratitude” is gratis – free gift.  

 There is nothing more frightening than to receive a truly free gift and to really feel the freeness and unmerited-ness. To be truly grateful.

There is a wildness in God’s mercy and grace. 

I think that is why it is so important to have a day set aside for Thanksgiving. Real gratitude is terrifying. In giving thanks, we are placing ourselves in the hands of God, to receive his gifts, awesome  (and I really mean the “AWE” part) though they be.

It should be easy for me to simply accept the simplicity of by blessings this year: my daddy is still here. Yet, that is not enough.  I think that there is a wild and terrifying abandon in real gratitude, reflected in the benediction of Job:

“Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” Job 1:21

So, in this Year of Faith and season of preparation and thanksgiving, I would like to ask your help with gratitude. For the Grace of the Lord is free, unfettered, unmerited, magnificent, and there can be only one response – gratitude.

In my conversion to Catholicism, there was a professor who would repeat over and over “100% grace. 100% human effort” as his explanation for salvation. I totally agree, but sometimes, I think that the human effort part is the effort to recognize everything as a gift and a potential grace.

Happy (BELATED) Thanksgiving and Blessed be the Name of the Lord!