Throughout the ages, the
mystery of love has been celebrated by many famous couples. There was Antony and Cleopatra,
Napoleon and Josephine, Lancelot and Guinevere, Aragorn and Arwen, the Lady and
the Tramp, Bacardi and Cola…and then, of course, there was Peter and Kimberly,
affectionately known by the media and paparazzi as “KimPee”.
Their story begins, as all great love
stories, with a whole lot of grace and a little bit of luck.
Pete was on an outside rotation with the Navy, based at Coronado
Island, San Diego. It was a rough assignment,
taxing his mind and body to the limits. Every morning he would be awakened
by the sounds of Navy Seals practicing their maneuvers, As he snuggled back
into his soft pillow to dream of glory on the battlefield, he would be lulled
to sleep by the sounds of the ocean below his sixth floor penthouse suite.
Later, as he prepared for work
and rubbed the spots on his feet where his flip-flops had worn them raw, he
would be forced to choose whether he would go deep-sea fishing, rock climbing,
whale watching, or simply tan (read, “burn”) along the white sand of the
exclusive Hotel Del Coronado.
And then, of course, there was
the dilemma of what to do with a two-hour lunch break and whether he should eat
sushi or steak that evening. Yes, it was a tough life, but it was an
adventurous life. And Pete was an adventurous soul, more than up to the task.
One day, while hard at work in the office, scouring the latest auctions on
E-Bay, Pete checked his Catholicmatch.com account. It wasn’t that he
actually believed in on-line dating, you see. To be honest, he
wasn’t having much belief (or luck) in off-line dating either. Sure he
cherished the memory of the last girl that had kissed him, but he wasn’t so
sure a kiss on his cheek from Moms counted. He’d been in a dry spell
lately…a twenty-seven year dry spell.
And so, he adopted the
lifestyle of a modern day knight. Friend and gentleman to damsels in
distress and foe to enemies of the state, his exploits were many, and Clint
Eastwood would rest easy knowing his films helped raise yet another gun-toting,
cigar-smoking, misogynist. But sometimes, as Pete gazed out to the ocean,
there was a longing to share the warm breeze and the glow of the sun as it
slipped below the horizon. That day, there it was: a simple little smiley face
sitting in his inbox. Next to the smile were two seemingly harmless letters.
“H-I”. And next to those two letters was a picture of a girl. A girl
Kimmi had sent the smile from her apartment in Newark, New Jersey, on
the other side of the U.S.
Her life was personified by the expression “living out of a bag.” This is
not to mean that she spent her days roaming cold back alleys while pushing a
shopping cart loaded with garbage bags and cats. No, indeed. What is does mean
is that Kimmi was a Continental flight attendant, jet-setting from the world’s
metropolitan hubs to the beaches of tropical locales, and she had not fully
unpacked her flight bag for a year and a half. Sure there was the way she
turned heads in her uniform, the glamour of flying and the adventure of the
unknown, but soon the hotels started to all look the same, and the names of
cities and faces of travelers started to blend and blur into one.
Sometimes she would cruise the internet in her ladybug pajamas, sipping on a
coffee, sensing that God had a new adventure in store for her and wondering
just what it was. As far as guys were concerned, Kimmi wasn’t.
She’d been there, tried that, and gotten the t-shirt. Frankly, she wasn’t
impressed. Was it possible to find a guy who was easy on the eyes, had a
job, wanted to get married, and actually believed his faith? Sure it was, she
figured. You could pick him up for $4.99 at the nearest bookstore in the
Still, every now and then, she would hear those stories of hope, and her own
faith was stronger than her despair. Just two weeks prior, she had heard
the story about the power of St. Anthony’s prayer intercession. It seems
that a certain woman had heard St. Anthony was a pretty good friend to have
praying for you in the department of love (or lack thereof). After what
she deemed to be an appropriate time of asking for his assistance, she tossed
his statue out of an apartment window in frustration. It landed on the
head of a passerby below, and upon inquiry, she found out he had a bruised head
and would make the perfect husband. According to the story, they are
still married. Kimmi had no statue, and given the crowd of inner-city
roughnecks who frequented the streets below her own window, she wasn’t willing
to take a chance with the whole out-the-window concept. She took the more
direct course of action.
“Here’s a prayer request you can take to the Lord, St.
Anthony” she thought. “Find me a man!”
She wasn’t a big believer in the whole on-line dating thing either, but she had
made some good, decent friends through Catholic Match,
and there wasn’t much else to do on a Friday night, alone in a big city.
So she had done a search for guys in the Jersey
area who didn’t look psycho, didn’t have pictures of their ex-girlfriends in
their bio, were under forty ( “Paallleease, God!” ), and didn’t have
pierced eyelids. And then she saw his profile. “Dang, St. Anthony. You
work fast!” she said aloud.
First of all, he was in San Diego.
It was certainly odd that his profile should come up in a local search on the
other side of America.
Then there was the fact that he aspired to sing Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett
covers in a cheap Vegas casino. Then there was the fact that among his
family photos was a picture of a five-hundred pound black gentleman wearing a
football helmet and eating a five pound burger. The photo was labeled,
“My Uncle Fred.” Finally, Kimmi was amazed to find that she was laughing
out loud to Pete’s profile responses. Where other guys tried to bleed
their hearts or win the hearts of girls with suave words, Pete had decided to
put himself out there. Either they loved him or hated him, but what they
got was pure Pete. For example:
Question: “Who would I like to meet?”
Response: “Felix the Cat, the Burger King (no, really).”
Question: “Ethnic Background”
Response: “Bulgarian/German (personally I suspect some aborigine or
Question: “Seeking someone in/willing to travel this far?”
Kimmi decided two things. A) This guy was a possible
lunatic B) Lunatic or not, she needed to say “Hello”.
Pete will tell you the reason he replied was because he wasn’t about to
pass up the idea of corresponding with a “Hot Stewardess”, but the reality was
that he felt something strange and different the moment he looked at
Kimmi’s profile. And it would be cliché to say that it was love at first
sight by the time they met for their first date in San Diego. Kimmi will tell you how she called
her mother after that date telling her to “Sit down because I think I just met
my husband”. And Pete might tell you—with tears in his eyes—how an angel
whispered into his ear that he was going to marry Kimmi as he watched her go
back into her hotel, or how he slept with his sweater that he had wrapped
around her shoulders for two weeks because it carried the light scent of her
perfume on that first date.
Then Kimmi might grab his hand and with sparkling eyes tell you about Pete’s
proposal, how he felt the sudden urge to propose one day after working out. How
he left (un-showered, mind you) and drove six hours in the rain, praying the
Rosary non-stop (for courage!) and listening to jazz, all just to make it to
New Jersey by the time her flight came in at midnight. She’ll tell you
how she thought he was a rapist as he surprised her in her parking lot, and how
she thought she was going to die in a car-jacking as they were chased by
undercover cops (who thought Kimmi and Pete were drug dealers from Ohio).
For you see, Pete had chosen to propose at a chapel that he found on
Google.com. The problem was he failed to realize he had chosen a church
in the roughest part of New Jersey.
The cops were just as surprised to learn that their suspects were on their way
to a chapel at 2 a.m. in the morning. They told them to get out of there.
Fast. Kimmi was so relieved to be alive that she both laughed and cried
and didn’t even seem to mind the crack addicts approaching her car at the subsequent
Her voice will probably get softer as she relates how beautiful the quiet
old church actually was, and how once they reached the Adoration Chapel, she
couldn’t help but say to the Lord, while pointing at Pete, “Jesus, I’m sorry,
but he just nearly got me killed!” Then Pete will probably pick up the story,
and tell you how he grabbed her hands in silent prayer and after a while,
dropped to a knee and opened the small cigar box she had bought him on their
first date in San Diego.
Inside was an engagement ring, and Kimmi gasped “Yes” after he asked her,
“Kimberly Meister, in the real presence of our Lord and Savior, will you do me
the honor of being my wife? Kimmi, will you marry me?” Then they kissed for the
first time. Kimmi will conclude: “So basically I was almost raped,
murdered, and got engaged all by 3 a.m. in the morning. Typical
“Yes,” Pete will say. “But at least you were surprised.”
Yep. That would be an understatement.
And so, this love story draws to an end, but it’s only one chapter of a
never-ending book. For most likely if you’ve read this far, you’ve been
privileged to witness Pete and Kimmi give themselves to each other in sacred
and holy matrimony and love. Pete had been praying he would make it through the
vows without passing out and Kimmi prayed it all would come off like she
planned, but no matter what happened, they are now man and wife. You are
encouraged to look upon the newly weds that you see before you—naïve, happy and
so full of hopes and dreams for their life together. Please, take a
second to notice the way time seems to slow down every time he looks at her or
the flood of silent words that no poet could ever capture every time her small
and tender hand lightly touches his. Don’t be ashamed at the lump in the
throat that may rise or the tear that may glisten in an eye that may have been
dry for many years. For before you is a brief glimpse of true and faithful
love, love as God intended it. And who can’t help but tremble a bit at
the far greater, perfect love and promise He has fulfilled through His own
son’s love for us?
To those whose dark hair has since grown gray, please turn to the person
next to you, and gaze a few moments into the same young eyes of the person you
pledged to love, cherish, and be true to till the gentle breeze of death should
temporarily separate you. Or perhaps you might send a prayer of
appreciation for the memory of the one you loved and lived for, the one who now
awaits to embrace you in Heaven. For those who are younger but have been
through some years of joy and suffering together, please reach out and softly
hold the hand that might be a bit plumper and wrinkled than you remember but
the same warm hand that you grasped so tightly the day you both stood before
God and pledged you would always love one another, come good or bad. And
to the young who are old enough to dream of the mystery of true love and wonder
about the one person they will spend the rest of their life with, and to those
who feel too old, hopeless, weak, unattractive, inadequate or tired to ever
find your soul-mate and spouse, we ask you to say a little simple prayer of
trust in a heart that may have forgotten to say one for awhile, and then wait
patiently for the answer that will come.
Peter and Kimberly Dillon invite you to join them in a silent, continuous
prayer of simple and humble gratitude for a multitude of blessings both
material and spiritual, for the prayers and encouragement from those they know
and don’t know, for their parents and mentors who have shown them that real
love begins when the chips are down, and for the fulfillment of a prayer that
has been answered in a way larger and more perfect than their dreams could ever
have been. God has never been early, but He has always been on time. Amen.