In last week’s episode of “Lost”, the character Charlie composes a list of the top 5 moments of his life as part of the plot. So Melanie and I got to talking and we came up with the “5 Top Moments of Your Life” meme. (You'll soon find Melanie's list at her blog.)
Here are my top 5 moments of my life, keeping in mind that “moment” is used a generic sense, sometimes choosing one “scene” to represent an event that spanned some time. You’ll see what I mean:
5. April, 1999: Rome’s Trastevere neighborhood. La Cisterna restaurant. I was in Rome with my brother John, my sister Francesca, and my Dad for a short visit of four days, my first trip to the Eternal City. We found La Cisterna when a Boston native living in Rome noticed my dad’s “West End” jacket as we wandered about one evening wondering where we would get dinner. The fellow asked a local friend to recommend a place, which he not only did, but he also took us there and made a personal introduction to the owner. It wasn’t just the incredible food that made it special, but it was also the singing waiters answering my father’s requests for songs, the special tour with history lesson after dinner by the owner, the hours of laughter and conversation. It was the best meal of my life. (I went back a year later during World Youth Day with some of the trip’s leaders and it was also a fabulous meal that counts as an adjunct to this moment.)
4. August 2000: Rome’s St. Mary Major Basilica. It was the Feast of the Assumption in the basilica dedicated to Mary during World Youth Day in the Jubilee Year. I was the crossbearer and a lector for the feast-day Mass which Cardinal Bernard Law was celebrating. Carrying that cross through the Holy Door of one of Rome’s great basilicas was one of the proudest moments of my life.
3. August 1992: Steubenville, Ohio. Franciscan University of Steubenville. For the first time in my life I was living not just outside of my family home, but hundreds of miles away from everyone I knew. That first night after moving to Steubenville, I found myself at the outdoor Stations of the Cross near the Portiuncula Chapel on campus praying for confirmation that I was doing the right thing because I was so scared. That began four of the best years of my life where I gained amazing knowledge and edification both in the classroom and outside, my faith grew by leaps and bounds, I made friends with people I would consider to be among the most amazing, interesting, fun, and faithful people anywhere, and I truly became a man. They say you can’t go home again and I know you can’t, but there are times when I really miss Steubenville.
2. May 18, 2006: Salem, Massachusetts. Salem Hospital. I sat in the hallway outside the operating room in my sterile gown and cap and face mask, waiting for the signal. Melanie was being prepped for surgery and I had time on my hands. Finally, someone came to get me and they sat me on a stool by Melanie’s head while she lay strapped to the table, arms straight out like a cross. I was asked if I wanted to see the baby coming out; I know my wife is as beautiful on the inside as on the outside, but I had no desire to test that hypothesis. Moments later, we heard a cry, a most beautiful sound, a little mewling thing that presaged the full-throated bellow our little girl is now capable of. She was brought to a side table to be cleaned and measured and whatnot, while I dragged out my camera for the obligatory photo. I was able to hold her next to Melanie and was quickly whisked away with the baby to the nursery for the pokes and prodding. I learned that part of love is the suffering you feel when the object of your love is pricked with a needle. God willing, we will have more children, but Isabella’s birth will remain the emblematic top 5 moment representing all the others, because hers was the moment when I became a father and found a new kind of love.
1. August 13, 2005: Salem, Massachusetts. Immaculate Conception Church. The best moment of my life was marrying Melanie. It’s hard to pin it down to one moment because all of the waiting, the dating, the preparation, the days leading up, the ceremony itself, the reception, afterward, the honeymoon trip to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island: It’s all one great continuum. But to pick one emblematic moment… obviously, the exchange of vows qualifies because at that moment our sacrament was begun. But another moment that stands out was sitting together at the head table at our reception because I’d seen before so many couples sitting where we were and now I was sitting there and would never sit in that seat again. (Hard to explain I guess.) Or our first dance—both of us usually so shy to be in front of a crowd, but at that point unheeding of all the eyes upon us and unable to tear our eyes from each other. Melanie is always beautiful, objectively so, not just to me (and any who wish to dispute it, leave your address and we’ll discuss it in person), but at that moment she radiated.
So what are your top 5 moments? All are invited to participate if you wish. I don’t like naming folks for memes because I don’t want to (a) obligate others who don’t wish to participate, (b) embarrass myself to find they don’t read my blog or (c) offend those who are not on the short list.
Thus, if you want to have some fun making a list, please do.