Next to Jenny and Kris’ wedding, this wedding of Johnny and Julie was perfect in every way. It was X-cellent because it was held at Xavier University, Bellarmine Chapel. Johnny had called me several months back to ask if I would do a reading. And while I called him Johnny, Patrick always called him Kat.
Johnny (Kat) and Patrick were friends. I would be standing in for Patrick. I have known Johnny for years and seeing him all grown up, about to be married was wonderful. I found myself fighting back tears, wondering how I would get through my assigned reading, nevermind the intentions – praying for those who are gone, and saying Patrick’s name out loud. I am always, always grateful to know Patrick and Chris are remembered and I cannot explain why it feels like my heart seizes at the mention of their names and I cannot fight back the tears, even 16 years later.
As Johnny and Julie sat up on the altar, I thought about wonderful friendship between Johnny and Patrick, remembering the time the police showed up at my door:
“Mrs. Furlong, did you know fireworks are illegal in Ohio?”
“No officer, how long has this been the case?”
“Fireworks are illegal in Ohio. Period.”
“Oh, officer, I am really sorry, I had no idea.” I’m trying not to smile.
“Mrs. Furlong, your son and his friend are trying to blow up the boy across the street.”
“Officer, I am sure they aren’t.”
From behind, I hear Patrick saying:
“Patrick, I’ll help in just a moment.”
“Pssst, Mom. Mom, please.”
“I’ll be right with you Patrick, I’m speaking with this kind officer. He is suggesting you were trying to blow up the boy across the street.”
“Pssst, mom (with a smile) We were!. He was trying to tip over my chair. Johnny and I were trying to scare him.”
“OK officer, I’m really sorry, but seems this boy was trying to tip over Patrick’s chair and while threatening him isn’t a great idea, tipping over Patrick’s chair would be a disaster.”
“Your son has a good friend Mrs. F, tell them to put away the fireworks.”
Or the time that Patrick was caught gambling in religion class. “ It was the Final Four mom!” The principal called, collected the cash and turned it over to the missions. Patrick and Johnny had already made plans for their winnings! I still have his detention slip framed on my desk.
And at the end of Patrick’s life, Johnny was sitting in the hospital with all of us, talking to Patrick about how much he loved him.
I thought about all this as Johnny and Julie said their vows and started on their journey together. I felt so thankful to be a part of Johnny’s life and for him to be a part of ours. Johnny was wearing Patrick’s watch and while I was standing in, we both knew Patrick was smiling:
“She’s beautiful Kat! Have a wonderful life together. I love you.”