Today’s excerpt from Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship tells James and Pati Mikulasik’s courtship story. Years before, they had dated briefly.
James: When I was starting to re-date Pati (dating Pati Part II), it was just like putting it in the Lord’s hand and saying, “Lord, here is this relationship, I still have feelings for Pati, I’m just going to abandon to You and whatever you want, it’s Your will, Your will be done.” I think that was a key thing.
One really cool thing that happened during our first date down there – it was long distance dating — and we were going for a walk outside of St. Paul in a place called Stillwater. There was a beautiful full moon. I really felt like Our Lady’s hand was on us, like Our Lady was just watching over us, and taking care of us during that time. It was the most beautiful full moon I had ever seen.
Pati: It’s funny because I walked out of the restaurant, and I also saw the full moon over the river. I thought, oh no, that looks like a sign. He thought the same thing, but in a hopeful way.
Taking it back to the beginning of the night, I had purposely dressed quite casually, because I didn’t want to get anything started. As soon as I opened the door, there was a look in his eyes, and I knew that nothing had changed as far as he was concerned. He was still in love with me. What surprised me was that I didn’t mind, even though I had been kind of preparing myself, keep it down, you don’t want to lead him on; you don’t want to hurt him again. I kind of liked the look in his eye and that surprised me, the first little surprise.
Our date was very enjoyable. We have so many mutual friends and so many mutual memories, and it was just a really nice time to catch up. But a couple times during the meal, I caught that same look in his eye, and I was just bewildered that it didn’t bother me. I think that’s as far as it went for me, though. I had taken off the veil in December, and this was only July. So I still felt like my ears were exposed. I was really adjusting to the fact that I wasn’t a sister anymore, so it was all very new. In fact, when he came down for the weekend, I told him, “You know, we can go out Friday night, but after that, I don’t know. That might be it. I might not be able to handle any more than that.” So after Friday night, he said, “Can I see you tomorrow?” I said, “Well, call me in the morning; I’ll see how I feel.” I wasn’t sure how much I could take of this. Then we ended up going out that Saturday night. He called me on Sunday and I said “No, I couldn’t handle Sunday.” Then he called me Monday and asked if we could go out Monday. So I said, “Yes, we could go out on Monday.” But I just wanted to go to a park or something, kind of simple, casual.
That Monday night when we were leaving the park, he was going to drive me back to my house (where I was living with my parents), and he basically confessed his love for me, just told me how he felt and I had nothing to say in return. I didn’t know how to respond, so I didn’t say anything. A few moments of silence went by, and he said, “You have to talk to me, Pati. You need to tell me what you’re thinking. Whatever it is, just tell me what you’re thinking.”
I said, “Well, I think you have virtue up the wazoo, but I’m not attracted to you. I don’t see this going anywhere. I really don’t want to break your heart again, and that’s all I can foresee.”
He said, “My heart is my responsibility. And I’m willing to take that risk.” Then he said, “I would just really like to see you again.”
There was something about that, well, it’s true, his heart is his responsibility. If my only reason for not seeing him again is because I don’t want to hurt him, he was saying, let me make that decision. So I thought, okay, I’ll let you see me again. When he dropped me off in the driveway, his last words were, “How often can I call you?” I said, “I don’t know.” He said, “Well, can I call you every day?” I said, “Well, you can call me every day, and if it gets to be too much, I’ll let you know.” Then he said, “Can I write you letters? Can I send you flowers?” I said, “Yeah, I guess you could do that.”
What was funny is that about two weeks before, this other man from Canada had come down, kind of a blind date, and we had gone out about three or four times. The last night he was leaving, he dropped me off in the same place in my parent’s driveway, and I said to him, “Well, where do we go from here? Are we going to call? Are we going to write or…” He said, “Well, you have my number.” I thought, I do not have your number anymore. The first thing I’m going to do is throw it away. This guy had everything I was looking for. He was a philosophy professor. He spoke Italian, French and Spanish fluently. He could salsa dance like nothing, and he was very suave. Yet those were his final words.
Then James, who was not at all what I was looking for as far as all those kinds of qualities, his last words to me in the exact same spot were, “How often can I call you?” That really hit home for me. I think it was kind of the first wake up call that I think I was looking for the wrong things in men.
James: During that weekend, she said, “Well, I’m just not attracted to you.” I said, “Well, let’s just take it in baby steps here. Compared to the beginning of the weekend, do you like me more or do you like me less?” She said, “Well, a little bit more, yeah.” I said, “Well, when you start liking me less, you let me know. Let’s just take it in stride here.”
Pati: James said, “Why don’t we just keep going out until you find that you’re liking me less?” I couldn’t argue with that. So those two points, I thought, okay, I can do that. I think in our relationship, that was July of 2001.
I attribute a lot of my falling in love with James to his perseverance. Like those answers, I would come up with a reason. Over the next three, four months of our dating, I regularly tried to end it and would say, “You know what, James? All I see is that I’m just going to break your heart again. I can just feel it. It’s going to end in nothing and you’re just going to be heartbroken,” and he would come up with something again that would be very beautiful and very manly. I would say “Okay” again, and he would give me whatever it was to keep going.
James and Pati Mikulasik have been married eight years and have two sons. Read the entire version of their courtship story in Full Quiver’s new book, Come My Beloved: Inspiring Stories of Catholic Courtship.
Text and photo copyright 2011 Full Quiver Publishing