74. Until Death…

74. Until Death…

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Happily Ever After

Until Death...

May the sun shine, all day long,
everything go right, and nothing wrong.
May those you love bring love back to you,
and may all the wishes you wish come true!

~Irish Blessing

Brian and I were in a serious relationship. But as a divorced mom, dating, for me, was more often than not a family affair. There seemed to be many more grade school basketball games, dance recitals and family movie nights than romantic dinners for two. When Brian and I finally planned a “real” date one weekend, we put a lot of thought into it.

Knowing my love of everything Irish, Brian suggested we attend a play called Flanagan’s Wake. That sounded great to me, so Brian ordered tickets. Saturday arrived and, with kisses to my daughters and a thank you to the sitter, we were off to the show.

Flanagan’s Wake was an interactive play with audience participation as part of the action. Everyone was given nametags. The men used their real names, followed by the name “Patrick.” The women were all called “Mary,” followed by our first names. We, or should I say “Brian Patrick” and “Mary Barbara,” sat chatting as the actors entered the intimate venue from the back of the theater.

“Boo-hoo,” sobbed the grieving widow of the poor, deceased Flanagan as she walked toward us. Stopping next to my aisle seat, she took my arm and sniffled through her thick brogue, “No one can coomfort like a girlfriend, Mary Barbara. Coom and sit wit me, will ya?”

Wouldn’t you know, I thought, I’m the first one they pick on.

Nevertheless, I cooperated and followed the widow Fiona, the Irish priest and several other cast members to the small stage. As the play progressed, I tried to look consoling at the appropriate moments, but I felt so self-conscious I could barely think how to act appropriately. Sitting at Fiona’s side as the “wake” proceeded, I wished I were back in the audience with Brian. Here we were, finally on a real date, sitting thirty feet from each other.

My thoughts were interrupted by the widow.

“Mary Barbara, haf ya ever looved someone like I looved Flanagan?”

Somehow I thought I should play along with the cast but, surely, no one had ever loved anyone the way Fiona had loved Flanagan.

“No,” I said, shaking my head.

“Well,” she continued, “doo ya haf a special soomeone to loove?”

Nervous beyond belief, I again shook my head. “No.”

I could tell by her expression that I was not following her cues the way she wanted, but I felt too uncomfortable to reveal my feelings for Brian in front of the whole audience.

“Tell me, Mary Barbara, did ya coome here to mourn Flanagan ahl by yerself?”

“Yes,” I answered, the lie slipping from my lips. A combination of shyness and stage fright kept me from telling the truth.

“Well, then,” the priest jumped in. “Who’s that over there? I saw ya wit him earlier. Is that your broother, then? Bring her broother oop here!”

They’re picking on Brian, too, I laughed to myself. Now he would have to talk in front of the audience along with me.

An embarrassed-looking Brian walked forward and stood in front of the small stage on which I sat. Looking at him with a skeptical expression, the priest spoke again.

“Yer not her broother, are ya?”

“No.” Brian shook his head.

“Well, then,” said the priest. “Do ya have anything to say fer yerself?”

Brian turned to me with an ornery grin. Suddenly, I knew what was going to happen. I jumped to my feet just as he knelt on one knee. He gently tugged me back to my seat while I laughed and cried simultaneously.

“Barb,” he held both my hands and my gaze. “I truly believe God has written your name on my heart. I love you with everything that’s in me. So, I’m here to... ask you if you’ll marry me.”

“Of course I will,” I whispered, tears in my eyes. “I love you, Brian.”

We joyfully embraced and — amid the clapping, cheers and congratulations of the smiling audience — floated back to our seats. I can barely remember the rest of the play. I sat with my head and heart in the clouds, touched that my bashful Brian had orchestrated such a public proposal.

You know, I’ve always liked the Irish tradition of honoring a life well-lived with a joyous celebration. But, I don’t believe anyone’s ever felt more joy at a wake than I did!

 

~Barbara Loftus Boswell
Chicken Soup for the Bride’s Soul

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