By Mary Jean Lanzilotti | Guest Blogger
We were waiting for the moment. The moment our lives would be offered, and thus received. The morning of my 24th birthday, I sat down to reflect and write. Searching for something of substance, I picked up one of my favorite books, He and I by Gabrielle Bossis. It read:
“Your keynote for the year: Believe in Love. Have faith in My Love. Let me create Love in you.”
And so it has been for us a year of believing in love, having faith in love, and letting God create love within us anew.
Our story is very much a love story. And I attest that primarily to Trev’s masculinity. His persevering pursuit of his bride. And the way he invites me, in the words of Kenny Chesney, to just be the woman with him.
I spent the month of July 2013 in Florence, Italy studying art at the Sacred Art School of Firenze, discerning a three year masters program abroad. For eight hours a day I sculpted, I painted, I drew, and I created in the studio. On the weekends I traveled. I held in my hands what had been for three years my dream. And in that time I realized that God had grown in me–over the past nine months of dating Trevor–a new dream: one of life with him.
On Thursday, July 18, Trevor boarded a plane in Newark, NJ with ring in pocket. He landed in Rome, Italy on Friday morning at 7:45. That same Friday morning, I woke up at 5 and boarded a 6 o’clock train to Rome. By 10 am we were holding each other within the arms of our Mother Church in Vatican City.
We strolled down the streets of Trastevere, a small neighborhood south of Vatican City. Its name comes from the Latin, trans Tiberim, meaning literally “beyond the Tiber” and it’s one of my favorite parts of Rome.
A bolt of thunder cracked and within minutes we were harboring under the shelter of a quaint bar sipping on cappuccino watching rain stampede cobblestone streets. I think God wanted us to talk. We put it all–all our thoughts, hopes, fears, inhibitions, feelings–on the red and white gingham clothed table. And we agreed that in God’s time–perhaps a few weeks or months, but certainly after I was settled and stable back in the States, we would take the next step toward marriage. I left that conversation with the deep peace of trusting Trevor’s leadership in our relationship, knowing that the time he chose would be the best time and letting go any whimsical hopes of taking that leap in Italy.
That night, we met with one of Trevor’s dearest confidantes, Fr. Geno, at La Nocetta, a quiet and capacious restaurant outside the hustle and bustle of busy streets of Rome.
I found out after all was said and done that Fr. Geno was in on Trev’s scheming all along. But more on that later. Our night together ended with a drive over to Piazza Garibaldi–a beautiful view and a beautiful memory.
DAY 2 in Rome: July 20, 2013 (THE DAY WE GOT ENGAGED!!!!)
We woke early. After some strong espressos and cappuccinos and a power breakfast here, we started our adventures. By 8 am our feet were climbing the 551 steps to the Vatican cupola. The higher we got, the tighter space became, especially for 6’4″ Trev. But he kept that smile glued to his face through the sweat and the cramped spiraling staircases.
And boy was the view worth the climb.
Per Fr. Geno’s counsel the night before, our goal for the day was to visit the four major basilicas of Rome. And so we set to it after our climb.
One visit after the next, we were in and out of taxis to make the most of our time. The whole day was in itself a big pilgrimage. I could write books on the beauty contained within each basilica–it was tremendously powerful to kneel before the chains of St. Paul; before what tradition maintains to be the remains of Christ’s manger; and in each basilica, before the Blessed Sacrament.
After a quick stop for some delicious Italian pizza, we were energized for a few more tourist hotspots, including the Pantheon and Piazza Navona. We even bought a little hand carved wooden giraffe! One of Trev’s favorite animals because “They’re always stickin’ their necks out for people.”
I remember Trev begging for a nap. And so we moseyed on back to Hotel Bramante for a true fashioned Italian riposo, where we napped from 3 to 5.
When we woke, Trev grabbed a bottle of wine and his rosaries and beckoned me to do the same. I did, and followed him out to the hotel’s private garden where we sat and sipped and prayed.
By 5:30 it was time to get ready for our date. And by 7:00 pm our taxi rolled up in front of Ristorante al Quirinale where Fr. Geno had made reservations per Trevor’s well planned request.
We dined over the most delicious meal: wine; caprese salad, prosciuttoe melone, sea bass, tiramisu and espresso.
We talked about the beauty of the day; the beauty of the gift God had given us in each other. And about the desire to be all in. We left it at that.
Until after dinner. When we strolled up a big hill and climbed to the spectacular view of the Vatican we had been promised.
But what was more breathtaking than the view was the question that followed. I’m not sure I can describe it – really I can only remember flashes of what Trevor said when he got down on his knee and asked me to marry him. What I can say is:
Yes, it was a total and COMPLETE surprise.
Yes, he got down on one knee.
Yes, he had the ring and it was sparkling by the light of the moon.
Yes, he had my father’s (and mother’s and older brothers’) blessing.
Yes, I said YES!
One receives one’s life precisely when one offers it as gift. - Pope Benedict XVI