Amanda Simpson is one of many remarkable people that I have had the privilege and pleasure to know from our former colonies across the Atlantic. A down-to-earth-gal from South Carolina, Amanda is something of a scientific whizz. She used to juggle radioactive nuts and bolts on nuclear submarines in the US Navy, and now teaches nuclear physics or some such ethereal subject, still with the US Navy. She is the kind of doughty person who doesn't mind spending long periods in a long metal tube under water. It takes all sorts, of course, and our Amanda is one of them.
Amanda is also a lapsed atheist. As a Maths major (she would say a Math major, of course) in college, she spent her days working through the quantifiable problems of the universe, and her nights pondering the qualitative ones, a process that ultimately led to her baptism in the Catholic Church probably about ten years ago.
I last saw Amanda in Oxford about fifteen months ago. She was on her way back from World Youth Day in Germany, and I took her on a tour of some of the Oxford colleges (okay, and pubs too, I believe). She is a photo buff and snapped away throughout the tour; here's one she took of the back of my head in Christ Church dining room
Well, who would take a photo of the front?
Not long after she returned to the States, she got engaged to be married to John Bianco. I never met him, but his photo on her website shows a gentle, bemused man with a broad smile and the high forehead of a thinker
The photo turns out to have been taken during John's last Christmas. Amanda posted this message on a message board on Tuesday of this week:
My fiancee, the love of my life, John Bianco died on Sunday of sudden cardiac arrest. We were to be wed in a tridentine high Mass this April. He was 32. We were just having a conversation and he suddenly stopped breathing. I called the paramedics and he was transported to the ER, but there was nothing they could do. I managed to get him conditional Last Rites, but he was already dead when the priest arrived. He needs all the prayers for his soul that he can get. He read this forum nearly everyday and I'm sure he would appreciate all your prayers. I, too, could use your prayers as I struggle to find meaning in all of this. It seems so cruel that God would take him away three months before we were to marry. We all have crosses to bare, but this is one I cannot bare alone. I am struggling to find how this all fits into His Divine Plan. So, I beg all of you, get out your rosaries, if you know priests have masses said for him, offer up your Communions and indulgences, please, please, pray for the repose of the soul of my John. He was a good man, a good traditionalist Catholic, and he will truly be missed. Thank you all. Amanda.
The Lord bless you, and keep you, John. The Lord show his face to you, and have mercy on you. The Lord turn his countenance to you, and give you peace.
I have no news as yet from Amanda but I hope to have some soon.