I’d returned from school one evening when mom came to tell me; “You’re going to have a long vacation so Father Clement would be coming over from time to time to give you home tuition.” “Father Clement?” I enquire. “Yeah, Father Clement. Don’t you know him? She asked me. “Mr. Hayford’s son who’s in the seminary.” “Oh, that? But he’s not yet a father?”
I was in my third year in senior high school and about to write my final exams. Mom thought I needed extra tuition to prepare very well for the exams. Over the period of my vacation, Clement came around most evening to teach me. We bonded very well and even started going to Mass together. We had a lot of space and time to chat about a whole lot of things.
He was being trained to become a priest so most often I was measured in my approach with him, but he dropped a lot of hints to indicate that no chat was out of boundary. We spoke about life, we spoke about school life, we spoke about christ and often spoke about the eucharist.
I completed school and came home but he was mostly in school. I called whenever I could and he called whenever he could find the time.
One day I asked the question; “Why do you want to become a priest?” I expected a lecture of how the Lord called him one night and asked him to become a shepherd of his flock. But he simply said; “My father wanted to become a priest at some point in his life. He couldn’t become due to a situation he had no control over. So immediately I was born, he started calling me Father and told anyone who cared to listen that I would become a catholic priest when I grew up.”
“So in essence, you are living your father’s dream now?” I asked. He answered, “Yeah it’s a dream of my father but somehow, I fell in love with the dream and made it my own. God called me through my father and I responded.”
At this point, I wouldn’t deny that I’d grown some love and warmth towards his personality. He didn’t do much but the little things he did went deeper. Anytime I was with him, I was drawn to his intelligence and how clever he solved life’s problems but he was a priest in the making so I couldn’t get my hopes high.
He had completed his postgraduate and edging towards priesthood when I decided enough was enough; “I’m going to meet him in school and while we are alone talking, I will tell him how I truly feel about him. I mean, there are only two things here—it’s either he says yes or no and both answers can’t kill me.” I ranted to myself and gave myself vim.
But somewhere, there is this tiny voice which comes to you in your moment of calm to tell you why you don’t need to do what you have planned to do. Eventually, I did. I told him I love him. I begged him to say yes to me even if it was a lie.
He was shocked. He didn’t believe his ears, he thought I was joking. Somehow, he believed I’d been sent to test his readiness to become a priest. He asked me not to repeat that to him ever again and walked away. For the next month or so, he avoided me. I took a gamble and it backfired. I tried several times to reach him but he didn’t make a way.
After several months without hearing from him, he came to my house to look for me. “I’m sorry about everything. I was scared you were sent to test my faith. The truth is, I’ve also entertained some kind of affection for you but I always brushed it aside.” We talked for so long that day and continued over the phone when he went away.
He didn’t say no and he didn’t say yes but something changed. The way he spoke to me and the tone of his messages got softer and softer. He came home on a vacation one day and we kissed. He still didn’t say anything to me but I took that kiss as a yes to my proposal.
No matter how deep you are in love, you sometimes stop and answer the lingering questions bothering your relationship. He was slowly becoming a priest who could not marry. “What then becomes our future?” I asked myself
There was nothing clear for us to do about the future. We were having sex and pretending we didn’t have to care about what tomorrow holds, but deep on the inside, we cared.
Every passing day drew him closer to the altar and pulled him away from me. One morning he sent me a message and followed it up with a call. He was straightforward and minced no words. He said, “My conscience is killing me. Anytime I go to mass and have communion, something in me dies. It’s like I’m living a lie. I don’t feel connected to my calling again.”
I knew where he was going with the conversation. I believed he was coming to tell me it was over. He went on; “I can’t do this again so last night I confessed to our vicar. I told him everything about us and how far we had gone. I prayed and ask for forgiveness. I don’t want to keep living this lie when I can truly choose one path and be happy. I’m leaving the seminary.”
I screamed, “What? What did you just say? Are you serious about this? When did you decide that?” A thousand questions came up but the answer was only one. “I’m leaving the seminary for you.”
It wasn’t an easy decision looking at the consequences. His family fought against his decision and his father threatened to disown him. Friends and relatives tried to talk him out of it but he stood firm. He said, “Being a priest is my father’s wish. I can go all the way to become a priest but if in the end I’m caught in adultery and kicked out, I wouldn’t be the only one to bear the dishonor.”
He chose me and today we are married with our second born on the way coming. His father sees me as the reason his son didn’t become a priest and barely speak to me but the happiness I have with Clement covers every anger any human can have towards me. I try every day to be a good in-law for him. I won’t stop trying to win him over just like Clement didn’t stop choosing me against all odds.
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