By Denise Trull
There is a small, Romanesque little Church tucked away in the middle of an old neighborhood in my city. A very modest little Church it is, sharing the street quite happily with the neighborhood bar and pizza places nestled round it. One might think this an unlikely setting for any sort of high romance, and one might be correct on the surface of things; for though admittedly pretty, this little Church seems a most ordinary place, and the people who go in and out its oaken doors on a Sunday seem just as ordinary. But as C.S. Lewis reminds us, “There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal”. Every human being is the hero of a story. His own. Her own. God writes many a romance through the lives of those he loves. I was to be privy to one such story. I didn’t know this when I first landed onto the shore of this ordinary parish three years ago. I do know it now. It has made all the difference.
It was suggested that I get acquainted with one Father Michael Rennier by a priest friend of mine. “You’ll like him. He is a writer like you. He likes poetry,” I was enthusiastically assured. I don’t mind saying I was intrigued. So, one early morning the heavy door of this ordinary little Church bumped closed behind me and I sat down for Mass.
Out of the sacristy strode, like he meant business, this tall, lanky sort of fellow with a shock of curls and an expressive, bespectacled face. He stepped up to read the Gospel and then we all sat for the homily. The pews, mind you, were filled with very no-nonsense, practical old people as such parishes often are. I expected a sermon to match. But from that pulpit he was suddenly quoting things from Homer’s Odyssey and obscure 19th century poets like Reverdy and lovely, odd writers like Simone Weil - all in one sermon. I sat in bemused shock, and chanced a furtive side glance at my neighbors for reactions. They were listening with full attention and, to a man, they loudly murmured ‘Amen’ when he was finished. Who was this? I had to know.
Lucky for me, he loved coffee. Roasted his own, in fact, and made a tolerably lovely cup of espresso. He invited me over to the rectory and poured me some at the kitchen table just like that. This is where the story begins. I found out delightful little things about him. He rode his bike almost 50 miles a day and thought nothing of it. He was quirky, very quirky. He wore a cape. He never wore socks. Ever. This was a custom formed from his long-ago Ivy League experience at Yale. It worked for him. He had definite opinions and did not mind laughing at mine when it was warranted. I slowly gathered up the bits and pieces of his story a little at a time at those coffees. Sometimes I brought my kids with me, so they could meet him with their own eyes - this priest who quoted obscure poets and wore no socks. They had never seen anything like him before. He was truly a delightful anomaly. I ended up entrusting him with the reading of my own writing - the greatest trust and the highest compliment one writer can show to another. He became a friend.
His life, in some ways, read like a fairy tale. Once upon a time he was an Episcopalian pastor of a small congregation on Cape Cod (see, fairytale). He painted, he read poetry, he wrote essays, he established a Church from scratch. Through the twists and turns of providence, however, he was to feel an insistent ‘twitch upon the thread’ and found his way to St. Louis to seek admittance into the Catholic Church. One fateful day he was invited to attend a Latin high Mass there by a Catholic friend. Having a curious nature and a penchant for the occasionally weird and eccentric experience, he went to the ‘smells and bells’ church. He wasn’t counting on the overwhelming wonder that filled his soul when he closed the door behind him and entered a beauty ever ancient, ever new. He wasn’t counting on the grace of that Sacrifice. He was smitten as any beloved is smitten. And there was no going back. So, he went forward and fell into the loving arms of Holy Mother Church, where he sought to dwell in the center of that mysterious force of beauty that had so beguiled him—the Mass. He eventually became a priest after five years of study and waiting. At long last he approached the altar, with much fear and trembling of course. Any priest worth his salt never quite stops trembling, but always with a joy that “burst all bonds of earth.”
It’s an odd and lovely thing knowing a convert. I always had a secret wish to be one. To know that joy-filled rush of sudden enlightenment and consent where before there was only struggle and questions. To be able to offer to God a fully adult, surrendered intellect and will. What a rare gift that is to be given, that willed surrender. It blesses others. It did me. His enthusiasm and knowledge of the Mass, something that had perhaps become too ordinary and stale to me, helped me to catch fire again. In fact, his fresh take on all things Catholic, stirred up in me the embers of a beauty I once knew and clung to but had allowed to slowly grow cold. Converts have a way of doing that. They re-convert their friends. He ushered me into a romance with God that I had quite forgotten existed. He handed me back my lost beauty--he gave me back to the loving arms of poetry. I owe him much that I cannot repay. He would never ask that it be otherwise.
He wrote a beautiful book about his story called, The Forgotten Language: How Recovering the Poetics of the Mass Will Change Our Lives. It is lyrical and reads like the romance that it is. It is worthy of your full attention. I certainly gave it mine. In it, he weaves his own conversion narrative within the poetic structure of the Mass, as though one echoes and defines the other. As though without the one, the other would cease to exist. It is a wondrous tale of providence that makes you glad there are writers in the world.
But, it is at this point, dear reader, that I remind you that this is a fairy tale, a romance; and a fairytale, as any self respecting child has a right to expect, must have a queen. This story, I am happy to report, shall not disappoint. As I read through the pages of Father Michael’s story, there is one name that weaved in and out like a golden thread: Amber. He used that name like balm, with gratitude, with deep respect and love. Amber is the beloved one, the silent partner, the beautiful mother of his children, the one who understands his soul. Amber is the queen. For not only was he a priest. He was a married priest. The plot, as they say, thickened.
I began to steal glimpses of Amber at evening Mass on Sundays. She was delightfully covered in children. Six in fact. They hugged her close, were wrapped up in a sling on her back, smiled up at her, made her laugh. She was simply a mom. She loved gardening and had quite the green thumb. She baked bread. She embroidered like a dream. Her macaroons were to die for. She taught PSR at the Church. She served up green beans at the Fish Fries during Lent. She home schooled her children. She worried about illnesses and the teen years. She gathered other younger moms about her and encouraged them. She organized all the St Lucy processions at Mass—a process not unlike the proverbial herding of cats. She sat in pew number eight and sang beautifully with her older girls in harmony. I loved staring at her. (Remember, I am a writer and it’s okay for writers to stare).
It must have been strange, as she watched her husband process up the aisle in priestly vestments, watching her sons follow him around the altar with incense as they served. She would kneel to receive the Sacred Host from her husband as though she were a little child being fed by her father. And so she was. She was both Queen and Child—all at once. What sort of enchantment was this, I wondered. It was as though she hailed from a far off land and followed her King willingly into this strange, foreign place - this Catholic Church—this Church where the priesthood paralleled marriage and the lines did not ever overlap—unless by rare decree. And yet, the Church did decree her worthy of this unique challenge it was to bestow on her, and her husband rose up in joy to praise her worth. She became a complete anomaly by consent, but she carried her role with such quiet grace that it never seemed odd or out of place to me. And I wondered: What sort of woman had God chosen for this unique task? This woman who was to walk a road so hardly traveled? And so, I asked.
I asked question after question and she patiently sat down and answered them all. Through this interview, I grew in wonder at the strange journeys each soul is asked to take that God might be all in all. Without Amber’s fiat, there would be no Father Michael, and without Father Michael I would not treasure the Mass as tenaciously as I do now, nor would other young men be inspired by his priesthood, nor would young Catholic families benefit from seeing such a unique married life, with stresses and challenges, carried out before them in cheerful example. Fiats always echo fiats, one weaving into the other to give it life. In this romance, two fiats indeed have become one. It is a marvel in my eyes.
But, about those questions...let us hear from Amber herself.
* * *
Trull: When did you and Father Michael meet? Were you at the same Pentecostal Church together? Childhood sweethearts? What was it about him that attracted you most?
Rennier: Michael and I met at the beginning of ninth grade. My family had recently moved to Saint Louis from out of state so I found myself attending a new school. Michael was also beginning his first year in traditional school, after homeschooling through eighth grade. We were in the same gifted English class and slowly became friends over our Freshman year, which probably seemed odd to many. He quickly became popular in many different circles through his participation in the basketball and cross country teams as well as his art electives. On the other hand, my circle of friends was mostly made up of happy outcasts who were blissfully unaware of any need to have a social standing at all. Michael caught my attention when I realized he was always who he was no matter whom he was around.
Like Michael, I had grown up non-denominational (but with a smattering of Methodism) and when we moved to St. Louis, my family did not have any strong church connections. So I ended up going to the Pentecostal church that Michael's family attended. I came to notice that he was the same person at church as he was in school, the same in front of his parents and pastors as he was with his friends, the same when he was with the basketball team and cheerleaders as when he was hanging out with the nerds or the church kids (I know, so many stereotypes, but it is what was). Noticing this really surprised me, because I did not think it common for any person, and maybe not even possible for a teenager, to be so steady and so consistently himself. I was intrigued.
Trull: When did you get married? How old were you? Did you know then that he wanted to be a protestant preacher/pastor or did that come up after you were married? Did you like the prospect of being a pastor's wife, or did you need to get used to the idea?
Rennier: I have friends from that time who to this day do not believe me when I say this, but Michael and I never dated in high school. I had my suspicions pretty early on that we might end up together, but I'm a hardcore introvert, and the idea of daring to actually know someone, and to become equally known in return, within the social framework of a dating relationship seemed utterly impossible. I abhorred the artificial contrivances that were accepted as standard to “dating”, especially among teenagers. So, we both naturally and happily stayed only friends throughout high school. I think Michael still doesn't fully understand how important his friendship was to me in successfully navigating those years, but then, even the most steady of teenage boys are oblivious to some things.
We went on to the same college after high school, and after only a few, short months there, Michael pointed out with subtle amusement that since we were going to continue spending so much time with each other, without seeing anyone else, we might as well be officially dating. I laughed, and had to agree. By the age of nineteen we were engaged and at twenty we were married. We both discovered that after five years of friendship, dating was rather a quick formality.
Michael felt a pull to be a pastor from an early age. Throughout high school, I knew it was something he pondered a lot, and struggled with as well, because in the Pentecostal church a pastor isn't just a pastor. A pastor is a PERSONALITY. He has to plant a church, grow that church with his teaching, cultivate a congregation--attract a following--with his preaching and programs, and his everlasting smile. Constant, upbeat energy is a necessity--the higher energy the better. The pastor is fully responsible for interpreting the Bible and teaching his specific interpretation to all these people. It’s, well, it’s a lot!
Likewise, the pastor's wife in this church is a highly defined role. It often seems they have a co-calling, pastor and pastor's wife leading the church together, tag-team preaching and leading worship, running conferences. Michael was hesitant about his ability to fulfill that pastor role, but I was 100% confident in my absolute zero ability to be the pastor's wife. However, I didn't hesitate for one second about our marriage. Knowing him as well as I did, I was certain it would be quite impossible for Michael to become that type of pastor. I was confident that he would be finding a different way to lead a church if he was to do it well, so I wasn't worried about my role looking any different from what we experienced in the Evangelical church.Trull: So, eventually you found yourselves in the Episcopal Church. What was it about this church that attracted you? Were your attractions different than Father Michael's? Were you the first to be attracted or was he?
Rennier: I can only assume that it is by God's design that we took that first timely step home to the Catholic Church nearly in unison.
While I loved the openness and desire to affect good that I always encountered in the members of the Pentecostal church we attended together in St. Louis as teens, I was never fully comfortable within it. I was never sure exactly how I was supposed to participate in the “show”, and suspected that I was being judged by what that participation looked like all the while. The environment just made me anxious. Michael felt that anxiety as well. And although we both felt this vague, growing discomfort there, I truly believe the pastor was a genuinely good man earnestly teaching the faith to people he loved.
Then came college at Oral Roberts University and everything escalated. I saw "pastors" leading their large, cultivated flocks right to the edge of a theological cliff and pushing them over, but not before taking all their money. That sounds harsh, but I was devastated when I realized that if a pastor was given permission to teach anything that he could convince people was true, he readily would, and many a pastor was perfectly willing to take advantage of a vulnerable person's faith and hope if it meant a larger collection. I saw first-hand how damaging the faith-healing theology was to all those who inevitably remained in suffering. I could only think that this could not possibly be the church that Jesus brought down to earth with Him. So, when Michael told me he wanted to attend an Episcopal church at the recommendation of his theology professor, I was open to trying anything that wasn't what we had been doing. All I felt after first attending this new church was relief. Relief at sitting quietly in a space someone had taken care to make beautiful instead of resorting to a stark, warehouse, mega feel. I hadn't even realized before how unfitting those warehouses were. I felt relieved to participate in worship that seemed to have a history and a purpose, with the focus on the One being adored, not the emotive reactions of the adorers. Most of all, I exhaled in relief when I realized I might not have to walk away after all; that maybe the true church was out there, and we had found it at last. This is the Church where Michael would become an Anglican priest. We were both happy in the decision.
Trull: Did you accompany Father Michael the day he heard his first famous Latin Mass? What did you think of it?
Rennier: The Latin Mass has been a slow burn for me. The first time I attended one I was so focused on feeling like a wildly uneducated outsider who had never learned the secret handshake. I remember little of the Mass itself. Over time, I have grown to love the unwaveringly high standards of the Latin Mass, the precision that defies concessions, the language that defies errant ramblings. The Latin Mass is like an emergency bank of heirloom seeds buried in a mountain somewhere. Ideally, we might still be planting those seeds God created and eating of the bounty, but we aren't. They took time and care and knowledge to grow well, and we preferred to fiddle and manipulate and make things new, quick, and easy. I am certain that if every other form of worship is made unfruitful by human meddling, the Latin Mass will still be there, an unchanging safeguard of the faith and the Sacraments of the Church. I am not saying that I believe other rites are by default invalid or ineffective. I love our Novus Ordo parish and the reverent, beautiful Mass there, but history is revealing to us that some forms of the Mass are more susceptible to human error than others. I have grown increasingly thankful for the priests and parishes who are able to carry on with the Latin Mass.
Trull: What were your feelings when Father Michael revealed that he wanted to become a Catholic priest? Were you afraid, hesitant, questioning, at peace?
Rennier: When you begin to notice that a theologically-minded and intellectually honest person is reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church from cover to cover, it cannot come as much of a surprise when he broaches the idea of converting. Undoubtedly, it was a complicated scenario to envision since on the practical side, converting meant leaving his job as an Anglican pastor and the means of supporting our growing family. We soon learned it would also mean moving away from our first home and our town on Cape Cod, a town I had really grown to love and where we had met a surprising number of the best sorts of friends. I felt hesitant because sometimes doing hard things just isn't appealing, even for the smallest, yet most attractive reasons. (I love Saint Louis but Cape Cod beaches still beat the Arch any day of the week, and don't even try to compare Imo's pizza to lobster rolls and fresh oysters.) I was also worried at first because I knew enduring a long stretch of time as a lay person would only add to the burden Michael would be carrying. I can honestly say, I fully trusted Michael's call, though.
I grew in my own attraction for the Church as well. My undergraduate degree is in Old Testament studies, and while I loved the history, the languages and the poetry of the Old Testament, I despised the exegesis. The most important thing I learned in college is that I am no theologian, nor a philosopher. What I wanted most in my spiritual life was someone I could trust to tell me what's right. This is one important reason the Catholic Church was so appealing to me--what better than thousands of years of gifted theologians and teachers who dedicated their lives to exegesis so I didn’t have to? I felt convinced.
But more importantly, as my friend, as my husband, as the father of our children, and as my pastor, Michael is the one person I fully trust to always desire the Good for me and our kids, and to make the best decisions he can with that goal at the forefront. When it became clear that he believed the Catholic Church and her Sacraments were the closest to Jesus we would get in this life--this One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church, that's all I really needed to know.
Trull: What was it like to watch Father Michael get ordained? Was it strange, unnerving, glorious, all of the above?
Rennier: Have you ever watched a video montage of "homecoming" clips? Scene after scene of military men and women surprising their spouses or children by showing up safely at their door after enduring a tour of duty from which all of them would wonder secretly whether they would return. At the moment of reunion these people don't just smile or laugh politely. The overwhelming joy and relief is visible in their faces, in their posture, in every muscle; they cry with joy knowing that this might not have been, and all parties often just collapse into each other and hold on tight.
When we were confirmed into the Catholic Church, Michael was not a priest or a pastor. He was a layperson, having laid down his role as pastor when we left the Anglican church, and although we made the journey to Saint Louis knowing the Church was willing to explore the Pastoral Provision with him, there was no guarantee that he would be ordained. His vocation, that calling that he had felt before I even knew him, was suspended indefinitely. So when he was finally able to take up that mantle again more than five years later, I was watching the sweetest of homecomings. When he lay down in front of the altar I saw him collapse with joy and relief into the arms of the Church. He had made it home. Thankfully, I had five young children in the pew with me whose needs throughout the Mass kept me from being fully overwhelmed by emotion.
Trull: What are some difficult or awkward questions you have been asked about your "hybrid" life that were hard to answer?
Rennier: Most questions are born of simple curiosity or come from people with little knowledge of the Church and her priesthood. Do the kids and I go to Michael for confession? No, it's just easier for everyone if we go to a different priest. Do you call him Father Michael? Um, no. If I am talking with people who know him as Fr. Michael and need to refer to him, then I will call him Fr. Michael because that is what they are used to, but I just address him as Michael. If you and Michael had both grown up Catholic, do you think you would be married or would he be a priest? I seriously have no idea and prefer to avoid "what-if" games because my brain is not built for unanswerable questions. Does Michael wear his cassock at home all day like he does at church? Nope--he has normal clothes too.
The one question that did shock me quite a bit was when someone asked me to share on the sly some juicy bits that Michael has heard in confession, under the assumption that he shares that with me at home. This person was not Catholic so presumably did not have a clear understanding of the sacrament, but I was dumbfounded. I think I actually stood there with my mouth gaping wide. Just in case this egregious thought has occurred to anyone else: No, there is no scenario in which Michael would ever break the seal of confession and risk his priesthood, excommunication, and the state of his eternal soul, least of all for some husband/wife chit-chat. For the record, he also isn't sharing anything talked about in any other meetings, be it spiritual direction or marriage prep or the talk you had over coffee. It is an unmovable boundary with us. I will never ask, and he will never offer. He would never break that trust with his parishioners and we don't need parish gossip to sustain our relationship.
Trull: Do you ever feel like a third wheel to his priesthood, pastor-hood, always in the background keeping the home fires burning? Do you feel like you are in a spotlight at Mass? Do you feel the weight of being the right kind of wife in this particular scenario that you have been given? Is it hard to even define that role? Is it hard to watch the man you just ate breakfast with, or maybe joked with or even fought with that morning suddenly turn into a priest at the altar Consecrating the Body and Blood of Jesus? I would find it a kind of 'split personality' feeling - suspending one life for another back and forth. Or is it not that way at all?
Rennier: This has been surprisingly easy for me. Michael has a dual vocation. I do not. I happily focus my energy on our home and our kids, and when Michael is at church I feel just like any other mom when her husband goes off to work for the day. His hours can be odd, his weekend is Monday, and getting another priest to fill in so he can take a vacation that includes a weekend is impossible, but my situation does not feel unique. Lots of mothers face what feels like single-parenting time while lots of fathers work long hours (and vice versa), and they all do it for the good of the family. There was some buzz when Michael was first ordained, as I suppose is a natural reaction to the novelty of having a married Catholic priest at your parish. But it has always been my goal to be no more or less involved in parish life than I would be were my husband not the priest. The parishioners at Epiphany, where we have been for the last five years, have let me have that which I am very grateful for. Our kids attend PSR, and sing in the scola, and serve at the altar, and cause barely-controlled chaos at Donut Sunday, just like many other kids in the parish. I volunteer where I can, and enjoy our moms' group. I attempt to keep my littles focused during Mass, just like many other families in the parish. If anyone around us is judging our behavior during Mass, I am happily ignorant of it and ask only that they keep it to themselves because I am not interested.
In the course of a day, I see Michael go back and forth from father to Father, from morning coffee to a radio interview to morning Mass to parish work to interacting with all our kids at home to evening Mass where we receive the Body and Blood of Jesus from his hands, to bedtime stories, to pacing the house for evening prayers and occasionally shuffling out after a late-night phone call for a hospital visit. But it's not two different lives and there is no disconnect for me. He is my priest when I bow my head as he processes down the church aisle to the altar, and he is my husband when he comes home and folds onto the floor to listen to our four year old recount every move of the two morning doves who live in the backyard that the kids have named Jeff and Jill. He is fully himself in both places. I've used the term "dual vocation" a few times and I truly believe that is the only reason this works. Grace and more grace.
Trull: Do other priests ever express a curiosity as to what it is like living in two worlds: priesthood/family life? Do you have many priest friends?
Rennier: People often seem surprised by this, but I don't have many priest friends and I don't live in the "priest world." Michael has some very good friends in the priesthood and I am so thankful for them, because they are there for him to share discussions about things I have no read on. As far as my daily life, I don't live in two worlds. I live in the same world as all of you: that of a Catholic woman doing her best to know God, love God, and serve God in this life. Although perhaps I am a bit more inclined than average to pray for our priests.
Trull: How do you answer the question of celibacy when people (I am sure) ask? Do they ever ask you if, since you are married to a priest, you think all priests should be able to get married? This one is important and the one most people wonder when I tell them my pastor is a married priest.
Rennier: Since Michael was ordained I have definitely encountered people who assume we must be champions for a married priesthood, and I still find my feelings on it difficult to explain with clarity. I absolutely love our life. I have no regrets about bringing our family into the Catholic Church and Michael fulfilling his vocation to the priesthood here. It is where we are supposed to be and our best chance at working out our salvation and gaining the fullness of heaven. At the same time, I do not recommend it as a matter of course. I know that sounds pretentious, as if *we* can pull it off but don't believe others would be able to. Trust me this is not the case. I believe the Pastoral Provision that makes a way home to the Church for married men in very specific circumstances is an act of mercy, and I am grateful for it, but I also believe there is wisdom in the Church maintaining a celibate clergy as her main force of shepherds.
There have also been people who voice worry that having a married priest will be a source of discord or resentment among an otherwise celibate priesthood, and I have to say that presumption is hugely disrespectful to our priests who are happy and fulfilled in the vocation they chose. Obviously I cannot speak for them, but I have never seen any indications of jealousy or resentment. As a matter of fact, it is sometimes quite the opposite. I wonder sometimes if many of them do not offer unspoken condolences and extra prayers for Michael when our children burst into the rectory.
Trull: What Catholic devotions are very dear to your heart? What is the best thing about being a Catholic to you? What attracts you? Is there anything you have a hard time with, or had to get used to? What is it like to receive the Body and Blood of Jesus from your husband, yet priest?
Rennier: As a Protestant, one of the most terrifying things I have ever read is the command to "be holy, because I am holy." Who can do that? I was, as my children would say, "confuzzled," and most anxious because I did not know anyone in my life who could tell me with confidence how to do this. I did not know of anyone beyond the apostles who had successfully accomplished this holy living, and it often seemed that even they barely managed to eke it out even with Jesus right there with them.
Then we came into the Catholic Church, and I started to get to know the saints. Suddenly I had found them: mothers, fathers, priests, nuns, monks, teachers, theologians, lay people, children, who had all, in their own way, in their own journeys, managed to be holy because He is holy. They left us their stories, and their example, and their prayers. What a gift!I also love how easy the Church makes it for us to pray. There are so many "standard" prayers to lean into when spontaneous prayer is hard. I will freely admit that I have a more than slight case of "spontaneous prayer PTSD" from years in the Pentecostal church. I have also especially come to love the rhythm of litanies.
If you know Michael as Fr. Michael, you know that one of his goals at Mass is always to become less, so that we don't see Fr. Michael saying Fr. Michael's Mass in Fr. Michael's way, but we see a priest of Holy Mother Church giving himself up for that brief hour to guard and bear the precious gift of our Lord's Body and Blood to the faithful. For me, he is quite successful at this, because when I kneel at the altar rail my thoughts are not that I am receiving Jesus from my husband. I am thankful only to be able to receive Jesus from the consecrated hands of a priest who truly loves his Lord and his Church.
One thing that does especially make our family life break though the veil at Mass is seeing our sons serving at the altar with their Dad. There was one Mass recently where our sons (ages 10 and 13) ended up serving as thurifer and acolyte. I was tending to our four year old in the pew and looked up just as Michael began censing the altar, and he came around the first corner though a mist of incense with a son on his left and one on his right, each with one hand gently holding an edge of the chausible and the other hand laid open over his heart. They drifted around the whole altar in step, Father and sons, and I wondered again at this life we've been given.
* * *
And as Amber fell into wondering, our interview quietly ended. A beautiful way to end an interview--in wonder. There are so many roads to Christ. Some take the well worn path, some the round about way, and others are called to take the roads far less traveled. He awaits each road at the end with His arms opened wide to these good and faithful travelers.
We have never met a mere mortal. All are called to serve an Eternal King. All have a story, an adventure, a romance. I was grateful to have been privy to this one. I pray for Father Michael and Amber that their story end, as all true romances end, happily ever after. Praise Him.