MESSAGE RECEIVED

MESSAGE RECEIVED

From Chicken Soup for the Romantic Soul

Message Received

I knew the answer before he even asked.

My boyfriend of two years dropped down on one knee, pulled out a velvet, heart-shaped box, and asked, “Will you marry me?”

Louis looked so adorable. Such a large, strong man suddenly turned so vulnerable. I couldn’t have found a better mate, so gorgeous, caring and easygoing. He had become my best friend, and I knew in my heart that I loved him.

“Yes,” I answered.

A wave of relief washed over his face, then a huge, boyish smile that preceded a passionate kiss. “Thank you for making me the happiest man in the world!”

That week, we set the date for August 8 of the following year, and I started to pick out cards for our engagement announcement—and the memories immediately flooded back.

This wasn’t the first time I had planned a wedding. Five years ago, Jono, my first fiancé, had died unexpectedly only six months prior to our wedding date. Pain paralyzed my heart as unfinished grief and longing reared up. I realized that planning another wedding brought all my feelings to the surface. I wondered if I’d ever heal from that loss.

I thought I had gotten over losing him. Because I was so young—only twenty-three years old—when Jono died, family and friends expected I would move on and date others, which I had . . . but marriage? As the months passed, I began to ponder whether Jono, the angel, felt anger toward me for wanting to marry someone else. After all, I had once promised to be his one and only.

The next morning, I found myself praying. Dear God, tell Jono that I know I said I would be his wife. But since you needed him, I’ve fallen in love with a beautiful man who treats me wonderfully. I’m very happy, yet afraid that Jono might be mad that I am going to have to break my word. Please have him forgive me. Tell him I’m sorry, and that I hope he will send me a sign so I know he approves.

Just then, a knock on the door startled me. I jumped, almost expecting Jono to be there.

Louis came in. “Are you ready?”

“For?” I wondered.

“We’ve got premarital counseling today. Remember the pastor changed it to this morning.”

“Oh, that’s right!” Quickly I got ready, and we decided to take my car since it was faster than his.

“Are you okay?” Louis asked as he started the engine.

“Uh-huh,” I nodded halfheartedly.

“You still want to marry me, don’t you?”

I turned to him knowing I couldn’t let this man out of my life. If only Louis knew how much I really did love him. In that moment, I knew without a doubt that I was willing and ready to break a solemn vow I’d once made to someone else, to move forward and marry Louis.

“Yes,” I replied.

Louis stopped the car in the church’s parking lot, stepped out and came around to my side to let me out. “Did you see my wallet anywhere?” He suddenly began patting his pockets.

“Maybe it’s underneath the seat.”

Louis went back to the driver’s side as I walked around the car to help him search.

He found his wallet under the seat, but something else caught his eye. He reached farther back and pulled out a shiny gold object. “What’s this?”

My hands flew to my face. I had lost that “Xs and Os” gold bracelet six years ago. It was my birthday present from Jono, given to me the last day he told me how much he loved me. I had searched my car many times looking for this special bracelet and had given up hope of ever finding it.

“Wow, this is beautiful,” Louis said, impressed.

With some hesitation, I explained who had given me the bracelet so many years before.

For a moment, Louis just stared at the piece shimmering in the sun. Then he took my hand and tenderly fastened Jono’s bracelet on my wrist.

“You don’t mind my wearing it?” I asked.

“No,” he replied. “Now you can think of it as a present from both of us.”

Years ago, I had searched this car for days trying to find that bracelet with its message of “hugs and kisses” from my first love. As I watched it shine on my wrist, I knew my prayer to hear from Jono had been answered. I soaked in this divine moment and the symbolism attached to it now that the bracelet, Jono, Louis and I were all brought together at our church.

Louis took my hand and we began to walk into the church. Next to the brass door handle was a plaque that had the complete Bible scripture “Love bears all things” engraved. Louis opened the door for me, and I took one last look at the plaque. As we walked through the archway, my eyes focused on the next words, “Love is not jealous.”

Michele Wallace Campanelli

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