One frequent topic of conversation with my roommate at St. Margaret’s in London was the respective girls with whom we anticipated marriage. Big stuff for a couple of college guys in London. He was pretty sure about his; I was pretty shaky on the subject. Mine was a cajun girl named Melissa Pilgrim. She was part of “God’s Bible Study.” (mendacium) I liked the way she thought. One day, as I was walking across campus looking for a particular friend, I found her and a friend of hers sitting on a swing. “Do know where Mark is?” I said. “Nope, I don’t know – but don’t go digging in the rose garden.” Wow. Beautifully dark. I was hooked.
On another occasion, Mark and I were sitting on a bench on campus, and Mark saw her strolling across campus on the way to class – “That Melissa; She’ll make someone a great wife someday.” I did not respond.
Only after we returned from London and I prayed to accept Christ’s authority (congregamini) did our relationship begin growing. I had been accepted into law school in Mississippi and I was leaving school the next morning, having finished all my classes, to go to Alaska as a missionary. We went for a walk. As we needed to talk without interruption, I took us to my default place for big deal conversation.
We talked through our affection for one another, and the fact that the friendship just didn’t seem to be enough. The fact that neither of us had ever dated anyone, and the fact that we didn’t want to. That walk must have been ten miles, but by the time we returned to campus we were holding hands, and though we hadn’t yet said it, we both knew who we would marry. I left for Alaska the next day.
Throughout the next few months, we wrote letters to one another two or three times a week. (no email or text or fb back in the day) We still have them in notebooks:
Mine is the black one. I can only speak for myself, but the high point of any given day in Alaska was a letter in the mail from M. When I finished my term in Alaska, I returned to Louisiana and was due to start law school in Mississippi in only a day or so. Our letters, and now phone calls, stayed constant, and we would visit one another from Jackson, MS to Pineville, LA on weekends when studying didn’t prohibit travel. I proposed on a visit to LC, and she said – Its about time! Ok, I didn’t put that in quotes because she didn’t actually say that. I know she was thinking it though, when she said “Yes.” After a few more months she finally graduated and moved to Jackson. She stayed in an apartment on the other side of the building from mine, in the same complex. After some time, and doubts, and struggles as a result, we were married on December 18, 1993, and we have shared joy, and pain, and insults, and hurt, and love ever since. She is a perfect fit (aptus) for me, and I think she would say the same of me. Throughout the good and bad times, as my depression has lied to me about our relationship many times, and I have questioned things, she has consistently delivered beauty into my world. I thank her and love her for that. A sampling of the beauty she brings —
M, second to God, is the calm in my storm and the wind in my doldrums.
May I never screw it up.