It's funny how some events occur and we know instantly that our lives have been changed forever. Yet there are other times when something happens without us really knowing that the course of our lives has been completely altered.
I would definitely put the days I found out I was pregnant with each of our three children in the first category. As well as the day each one of my babies took their first breaths and cried out to me and my husband that they were here to stay.
Or, the Valentine's Day almost 20 years ago when Joe asked me to marry him.
These are the moments that take your breath away. The ground shifts right under your feet, and your life has changed.
Then there are the subtler moments when we don't realize until later that that was the moment our life changed direction.
The day I met my husband comes instantly to mind as one of those times.
Joe and I met on a blind date almost 22 years ago. We had a few date planning calls on the phone and one really good conversation before our big meeting.
The year was 1990, long before Google, Facebook and dating sites like Match.com or EHarmony. These were the old days when people met through friends and had to actually talk on the phone if they wanted to meet.
I was at a strange place in my life. I had decided to leave acting, or rather the dream of an acting career. Though I felt that was right, I did not know what I wanted to do with my life.
I was in a job that paid the bills, albeit by the skin of my teeth, and I was officially on my own living in New York City. I felt very direction-less and kept kidding around with my friends that I was waiting for the postcard from God as to what I was supposed to do with my life.
Desperate for an answer I had the bright idea that I would go on a prayer vigil.
Mind you, though I was raised in the Lutheran Church as a child, I have always considered myself more a spiritual person than a religious one.
My prayer vigil wasn't out of religious fervor, it was out of a deep-seated need for guidance. I was hoping that by setting time aside each day and concentrating on what I wanted I would get some sort of an answer.
If it came from above in a nice, easy-to-read card all the better.
I could have picked a beach or a park to hold my vigil, but I lived in Manhattan and there are beautiful cathedrals and wonderful churches on almost every block. A church seemed to be as good as any for my daily meditation.
I wasn't particularly choosy as to what church I would use. At the time, I worked on Park Avenue, and more often than not I went to Saint Bartholomew's, a beautiful Episcopal church on Park Avenue and 51st Street.
Sometimes I would vary it and walk to Fifth Avenue Presbyterian, or if it was on the weekend, I would pick the small Catholic church near my Upper East Side apartment.
During the week I would go at lunch, sit in one of the pews, quiet my mind for about 10-15 minutes, and pray.
I was very specific in my prayer. I wanted to know what my purpose in life was and what I should do about it.
A simple request, I wasn't asking for much.
Toward the end of the 30 days I was sitting in St. Bart's and started to cry. It was at that moment I realized that, although I had some great friends that I really loved, I was profoundly lonely.
I admitted to myself and God that I really wanted to find someone special in my life.
But, I then quickly added that I wanted the purpose first. I made sure I was very specific, I didn't want to confuse God. I wanted that purpose.
I was sort of mad at myself for confusing the issue. It was the purpose I was looking for, love could come after, I could wait.
I'm a little fuzzy on the exact time line but it was around this time that a friend of mine had mentioned she knew a guy who had the sweetest personality and the sweetest face. She thought we would really hit it off.
I remember not being extremely impressed with this offer. I had heard it all before. I had been going on a string of blind dates and set-ups for a few years with little real success. I was tired.
The idea of declaring myself a professional spinster at almost 25 was starting to seem like a good idea.
But I told my friend I was game if she didnt' mind that I would take the guy's number rather than giving out mine. I was getting tired of the man having all the power. It was the 90's, and a guy could wait around for my call.
I walked around with Joe's number in my purse for about three weeks.
Truth be told, I wasn't really that into meeting anyone new. I was casually going out with a fraternity brother of my roommate's boyfriend who lived in Philadelphia. I liked him, but I didn't think he was someone I was meant to have a serious relationship with.
We had planned for me to visit him in Philadelphia, but as luck would have it, it turned out to be the same weekend my family had planned a big reunion at my uncle's dairy farm in Upstate New York.
Despite my father being less than thrilled with my decision, I was all set to ditch the reunion for the guy. Then one day I admitted to my mother that I had a feeling I was going to go to Philadelphia and end up staying there even though I really didn't think this was the right path for me.
"Then don't go Kathy," she said. In her next breath, she said, "Why don't you call the guy whose number you have been carrying around in your purse."
When I told my roommate that I had cancelled my plans to go to Philly, she also suggested I call the guy in my purse. She didn't know my mother and her had the same idea.
I immediately liked the voice on the other end of the phone. I also found myself laughing very easily.
But I was cautious. I had kissed my share of frogs, I didn't really expect to meet my prince anytime soon.
A few days after the reunion I met Joe in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral. The first thing I noticed was that he was very tall. My friend was right, he did have a sweet face. He was very nice so I said yes to a second date, but I told my roommate I didn't think much was going to come of this.
It took me three dates to realize I really liked him. After seven dates I knew this was different from anything I had felt in the past. I had fallen very deeply in love for the first time in my life.
I was a little freaked out. My plan was to have my purpose and life all in perfect order before I met the person I was going to spend my life with.
A few months into my relationship with Joe I was talking to a friend. She was telling me how happy she was that I had found such a great guy.
I told her that I was really happy but that this was not the way it was supposed to work. I had clearly asked God for my purpose in life, I only added that I wanted someone as an afterthought. Why did God hear that plea when I spent thirty days asking for my purpose.
"Kathy, you don't know God's plan. Maybe Joe will be part of your purpose."
And he was.
The ground had shifted and my life's direction had changed course, and I hadn't even known it.