Okay, my son really made me giggle today.
Yesterday, we were playing with his Little People Nativity (highly suggested for parents of little ones). He's had it for years, and he STILL loves playing with it. It plays Away in a Manger and he constantly requests that I sing along with him. He now knows most of the words, himself!
Anyway, as we went to go play with the nativity yesterday, I noticed the Baby Jesus figure was missing. This was our conversation:
Me: Vincent, where is Baby Jesus?
Vincent: I dunno!
Me: Well, we have to find Him!
Vincent: Mommy, I dunno! Where's Baby Jesus?
Me: I don't know, either, Vince, but let's look!
Vincent: Look, Mommy. Where's Baby Jesus? Where he? Where he?
Me: Look under the tree. Is He under the tree?
Vincent: I dunno, Mommy. Where he? Where Baby Jesus?
Me: Check under the couch. Nevermind, let Mommy check under the couch.
*Mommy finds Baby Jesus*
Me: Ah-ha! Here's Baby Jesus!
Vincent: "Here is Baby Jesus! Here is! Here is!"
Then we proceed to play with the set for a while.
Here comes the good part.
After Mass today, I took Vincent up to see the Nativity scene. Being that it's only the 4th Sunday of Advent, Baby Jesus was missing from the manger.
Vincent, completely panicked, started shouting, "Where's Baby Jesus? Mommy, where he? Where he? No Baby Jesus! Under the tree?"
Embarrassed by his volume, but overcome with laughter at his reaction, I barely shushed him and said, "It's okay! He comes out on Christmas!"
This didn't appease him, apparently. As I went to find Steve to confirm times to decorate the church, Vincent pressed him for where Baby Jesus was, too. Ha ha ha!
Finally, as we made our way to the back of the church to greet the pastor and deacon, Vince brought his concern to them, too! In fact, when the deacon tried to get Vincent excited for Santa by asking, "Who is coming in a few days?" Vincent replied with "Baby Jesus! Baby Jesus!"
He thought I'd done a good job teaching him the importance of Jesus's birth over the arrival of Santa, but really, he was just panicked, I think, because the church was missing its toy figure just like he'd been missing his the day before.
I seriously giggled the entire way home. My little munch. Ha ha ha!
When I was a younger teenager, I worked as a sacristan for my old parish of Incarnation. I loved that church, especially when it was done up in all its Christmas splendor. We had elderly ladies who volunteered their time arranging flowers, altar linens and various greenery all over the sanctuary. Being a sacristan, I was kept out of this work as my job consisted of cleaning and replacing candles / candle holders, making sure chalices and cruets were sparkling, and ensuring we had ample supplies of unconsecrated hosts and wine for whichever Masses were coming up.
However, I always fancied the idea of being part of the troop that made the sanctuary explode with color to celebrate the birth of Christ.
This year, I got my wish in a very odd, but super "God knows all" way.
A friend of mine solicited nursery advice from me now that she's expecting her first little boy. I happily shared fun little things I did with Vince's nursery. After the conversation, though, I felt a sadness due to the fact I will likely never decorate a nursery for my own little one ever again.
I went through a brief couple days of sadness because of this. It wasn't just the conversation I had with her. It was just that our conversation had capped a string of similar conversations that added up to me longing for a little baby to decorate for.
Well, God saw my sad little heart and sent my friend, Steve, to give me a boost. Steve is our parish Superman (arranging liturgies, directing music, directing pretty much everything that goes on in regards to the church in general - ha). Anyway, he sent me an e-mail inviting me to take part in decorating the church for Christmas.
I was delighted! Would I like to help decorate the church? YES! A thousand times yes! How exciting would that be?
So at the appointed time, I arrived ready to move some poinsettias, hang some garland, and swap out the purple for gold.
The first task at hand was the altar linens. At first I didn't want to step foot into the sanctuary. I don't believe it's proper for a woman to enter the sanctuary, but I realized it was a foolish notion on my part. How was I going to help if I couldn't enter the very place that needed dressing?
The next problem I ran into was the altar. I was asked to change the altar cloths, themselves, and I really didn't like that idea. Steve wasn't going to make me do it because he could see that I was uncomfortable, but I figured if I maneuvered everything just right, I wouldn't have to touch the altar, itself, and would only adjust the linens over it as respectfully as I possibly could.
It was then that I realized I was preparing Jesus' nursery.
I mean, there we were, this troop of volunteers running to and fro getting linens in order, flowers in place, and decorations just right. We were just like nesting mothers driven to perfect the nurseries of our little newborns.
And that really is what we were doing. We were preparing the dwelling of the Christ Child who come to us in a very special way at Consecration. The thought was so moving to me. I was so grateful, then, to be given this chance to dress up the King's nursery. I imagined how Mary must have felt as she made certain the garments she wove were lined up and ready for His arrival... how she must have straightened and restraightened the meager belongings she and Joseph had taken on their impromptu trek to a cave on the outskirts of Bethlehem, all the while singing songs of praise to the God who took refuge in her sacred womb.
I was so happy, then, to realize that God was kissing my broken little heart by letting me make ready His nursery in lieu of one of my own. I was almost thankful for the sadness I felt earlier since it made me that much more aware and appreciative of my part in decorating the church.
God is good. He really does see all, and if you patiently offer even your tiny, silent sadness, He'll return it to you as a gift.
See that incredibly adorable priest over there? That's Fr. John Wendrychowicz. Well, he was blessed with the title of Monsignor, so he's really Msgr. John.
Anyway, today I learned that Msgr. John passed away.
Working in the Archdiocese means I get the death notices as they are shot off from our Communications office. Seeing his name on the notice felt like a punch to the gut.
I knew Msgr. John from my days as a Dougherty student. I never had him as a teacher, but he was routinely the celebrant at Masses, was ALWAYS around for Confession, and very often found in the chapel during lunch-time Eucharistic services.
He was such a kind, gentle priest. I was always sorta shy around him because he seemed so holy. I'm not shy around anyone, but I was definitely bashful around him. It was through no fault of his own. He was such a sweetheart, but I just felt very, very... I don't want to say unworthy, because that's the wrong word. I guess uncertain of myself is proper. As a result, I just remained silent and smiled a lot at him.
Anyway, he once gave me great advice in the confessional - advice I still go by to this day. He was always a wise confessor, and I appreciated that he was always - ALWAYS - so kind and gentle. Again, though, I kept my appreciation to myself. It slipped out in smiles and nods as we passed each other in the hall, but I never worked up the nerve to tell him how amazing I thought he was.
Until a few weeks ago.
He happened to call into my office, and I was lucky enough to pick up the phone. He introduced himself and I actually felt my heart jump. I blurted out, "As in Fr. John Wendrychowicz from Cardinal Dougherty???"
IMMEDIATELY I felt my cheeks burn as I realized how ridiculous it was for a secretary to blurt out a question like that when the poor guy's attempting to connect with one of his brother priests.
I could hear the confusion in his voice as he prepared to figure out who I was when he answered, "Why yes, I was at Cardinal Dougherty for a time."
I apologized, but then said, "Father, I'm so glad I picked up your call today! I was a student there - graduated class of 2001. I never said it then, but I've always wanted to tell you how wonderful of a priest I think you are. We were so lucky to have you back then."
He laughed and said, "Well thank you! I'm glad I called you today, too."
I felt so good right then because God had let me make up for all those times I hadn't said a word to him. As I passed Msgr. John over to my boss, I actually turned to my coworker Megan - super excited - because I had gotten to speak with him.
So today, when I heard news that he had passed, I was terribly saddened that we lost such a wonderful priest. However, in the same breath I uttered "Oh no... no... that's terrible!" I also said, "Well good for him."
My coworker, Russ, happened to be next to me when I said that and he said, "Wha?"
And I responded, "Yeah. Good for him. Can you imagine the Christmas celebration he's gonna get to experience this year?"
So even though I shed a few tears for him (and his parishioners as he was an active pastor when he passed), I knew that his soul would be enjoying the splendor of Heaven in time for Christmas. So if everyone would be so kind as to offer a prayer or two his way, I'd appreciate it. I really do hope Our Lady came to collect his soul, herself. He was a true representative of Christ, and I'm grateful for the blessing of both knowing him, and being able to tell him just how much I appreciated him before he met his Creator.
Bless the Lord for His goodness.
Any one else feeling the inability to update their blogs properly due to the events of Friday? I've been doing some physical writing in my diary... something about cursive loops that makes me feel better... but I just can't bring myself to type about anything of substance.
I just want to hug everyone.
Transcribed from my diary.
How does tomorrow ever come after a day like today?
I just... words cannot possibly convey the emotions that are coursing through me - connecting me with every other heart in this nation as it falls into itself under the crushing weight of grief, confusion and helplessness.
How can something so painful, so terrible, so impossibly evil erupt and still be cruel enough to allow us to continue breathing?
I had just gotten back from a jovial lunch with my coworkers when I first learned of the tragedy. I almost felt guilty for having laughed over lunch as these families were desperately waiting for news of their children's safety. Oh Heaven... would a sacrifice of lunch have saved just one more child?
Within minutes, my emotions were overcoming me. I was sitting at my desk hearing reports as my coworkers were chattering what they saw on their news-feeds. It wasn't until my coworker, Russ, solemnly said, "It's just so close to Christmas" that I realized the extent of what this tragedy has done to families.
I couldn't hold back the tears and immediately went up to the chapel. Thankfully, I was the only one there, so I was able to cry freely and without embarrassment. I could barely breathe; the grief was crushing. I felt Christ in there with me, and I couldn't stand it.
I looked to Him, hidden in the tabernacle, and just pleaded that He go to comfort the families. I knew He was there already... that He is not constricted by space or time, but I didn't want to feel His Presence as I did. I didn't want His comfort as I felt guilty for having any while so many families were struggling with an agony impossible to comprehend. I guess He knew that, too, so He withdrew just enough to allay my senseless guilt.
I looked at Our Lady, next... this beautiful statue of her cradling the Infant Jesus. I cried anew as I thought of all those parents unable to cradle their children in their arms again. Mother Mary, I prayed, be with them, please. You suffered the same agony as you watched your innocent Son being torn away from you through impossible violence. Hold those newly arrived children in your arms and reach out to the shooter's and his mother's. Oh Heaven... rally around them to bring them home. Please. Help those left behind find comfort. Somehow, help them to find peace.
Listening to the news on the ride to pick up Vincent was just as heartwrenching. I was not the only parent freshly crying as a child was collected for the weekend.
It's only when I got home and realized I'd missed a call from my mother-in-law that I found out we have a connection to one of those families I was shedding so many tears for.
Jeff Previdi, a well known and very well-liked man who works closely with my father-in-law, lives in Connecticut. His little girl, Caroline, was among the victims. I don't know Jeff well. My father-in-law did, but to me, Jeff was just a sweet guy who came into the office a few times a year and called almost daily. To him, I was probably his buddy's super-friendly daughter-in-law.
I'm not saying this to somehow make my grief more "important" or more "valid" because I have some sort of connection to the Previdis. The connection just reminded me that our world truly is a small one. We are all connected, especially through emotion. It's incredible how quickly united we become so as to suffer together in an attempt to help one another shoulder the crushing burden.
And that's something my husband just couldn't understand. Through the entire weekend I kept seeing the reports and sobbing openly. I couldn't contain myself. I wanted to see those little babies. I wanted to read their stories. I wanted to see the staff and read their stories. I wanted to know more about the shooter and his mother. I wanted to make sense of the tragedy.
More importantly, however, I wanted to remember those children. I wanted to know them and cry for them and say prayers for their families. I needed to, even at such a high emotional cost.
John kept telling me to stop. That I was upsetting myself for no good reason. But it WAS a good reason. Crying and spending myself so emotionally is NOT a bad thing. It makes me human. It makes me sensitive to the emotions of others. It also makes my prayers more specific, which I think is a good thing.
He sorta rolled his eyes, but he didn't criticize. When tragedies occur, John does his best to ignore the situation. He hears the details once, then attempts to put it out of his mind forever. I do the exact opposite. I'll cycle through everything a thousand times and open myself up to the flood of emotions that sometimes overwhelm me. I feel it's the least I can do to help shoulder the burden with these families. Even if I can't ease their pain, at least I can offer up my own for their intentions. Somehow, God will make use of my tears, especially given that my intention behind them is good.
John just sees it as wasteful, and to a degree it even makes him angry. He recoils at the idea of there being a God who allows things like this to happen. He practically spat his disdain for my thought process out as he, too, tried to process his grief. I didn't fault him for his line of thinking. I understand it and just begged God to forgive him for saying mean things while hurting and confused. I prayed for all those who might be calling out against Him in anger, confusion, bitterness and agony.
It is understandable to look upon a God who is supposed to be benevolent and loving and point the finger saying, "How could you let this happen??? You're God! You could have done something! Why did you stand by and allow this???"
I understand that, and I cry for that.
I'm sorry for the rambling. I am just trying to process so much and have no words for 9/10ths of it. The loops of these words are at least making me feel like I'm doing my part to remember these families... to remember their suffering and help them along in their journey back to Our Father.
Oh Lord... help us, please. Blessed Mother, who so keenly understands the pain felt by these families, guide and protect them. Finally, all you little saints who I hope enjoy the eternal vision of Heaven's splendor, pray for us here below. Be at peace and enjoy the laughter and beauty of all that God is.
And God, I know I say this all the time, but I probably don't mean it nearly as sincerely as I should. Thank you for my little munch. Thank you for his health, his smile, his love and his kisses. Thank you for his existence. Keep him safe always with you. Amen.
On my way home from work on Friday afternoon, I got a call from John. He wanted to "prepare me" for the garish lump on Vincent's eye and forehead.
Startling me out of a Benadryl-induced haze, the adrenaline shocked my system into speeding across bridges, toll plazas and law-abiding cars in order to make it home in record time. The entire way, I kept saying, "Dear God, thank you. Thank you for not letting him poke his eye out. Guardian Angel, please fly to Vince's Guardian Angel and tell him 'Good job.' 'Cause seriously... good job! Thank you, Blessed Mother, thank you Jesus, thank you everyone!"
I actually made it home before he and Vincent did.
When I threw open the door to greet them, I almost cried at the sight of my little boy's disfigured (but smiling) face. He threw his arms around me with an exuberant "MOMMY!" and I scooped him into the house and onto the couch where I could see the injury better.
I almost couldn't look! It took me several times to properly work up the stomach to view the egg-sized swelling that forced his little eye closed. He told me his "boo boo hurt" and didn't want me going anywhere near it. Otherwise, he was perfectly fine. He wanted his juice, he wanted his snack, and he wanted to play some games.
I wanted to take him to the ER since the swelling was so concerning. John kept assuring me he was OK. It looked terrible, but he'd be fine. He hadn't lost consciousness, he was still eating / drinking fine, and he was obviously in good spirits. John promised he'd be okay, and considering the amount of experience John has with knocks to the head with his sports background, I tried to ignore the screaming Mommy in my head yelling, "GET HIM TO THE ER NOW!"
That changed after I stripped him for his shower. I took off his shirt and almost had a heart attack when I noticed the three welts he had along his ribs. I immediately gasped and got John to take a look. Why had no one told us he had injured his back, too?!?!?!
I lost it. I went into Angry Momma mode and decided to take him to the ER to get checked.
You can't tell from the photos, but the injuries to his back were more pronounced and there was significant bruising. I'm not sure if the flash washed it out or what, but that image does no justice to what my baby boy had on his little body.
Why didn't we get a proper phone call from the daycare?! Why wasn't this reported on the incident paperwork?! How, exactly, does a child who supposedly fell FORWARD end up with injuries on his face and his back?!
Most troubling of all is my concern that the welts were in the shape of an adult woman's hand. Again, the photo above does this injury no justice, but there were two other welts that made the entire area look like a hand had smacked into him. Even that didn't make sense, though, as the welts didn't seem to be caused by a smack so much as some sort of rug burn.
Instead of attempting to play Sherlock, I decided we were going to the ER and having professionals take a look at it. I wasn't going to take a chance on his safety.
Once we got to the ER, they took us back relatively quickly. The two doctors agreed the marks on his back looked like a handprint, but even they couldn't figure out how a hand would do damage that somehow caused abrasions.
Due to the suspicious circumstances surrounding the injuries (and, truthfully, how terrible they were), protocol stipulates they need to contact the Department for Youth and Family Services (DYFS). I understood and admit I took offense that they were even remotely suspicious that I'd cause such injury to my baby boy. I tried not to hold it against them as they've probably seen firsthand what some abusive parents are capable of. My heart broke at the thought...
When I was finally able to take him home, I was assured that DYFS would be following up with both me and the school. I thanked them and went on my way, immediately tucking Vincent into bed (as it was past midnight).
The next morning, my husband woke me up to tell me that DYFS had been by at 3:30 that morning. 3:30 AM!
Geez... that both irritated me and made me feel better about the plight of those children who ARE abused - at least I know they take concerns seriously.
Anyway, John said he let two women into the house at 3:30 so they could interview him and check our water, electric and food supplies. He said they'd be coming back later in the day to interview me since I was upstairs sleeping with Vince at the time.
So I cleaned the house a bit and waited for DYFS to give me the once-over. They showed up just as I was about to put Vince down for his nap (go figure). Vincent was in his normal, super-happy mood. Double it, though, because these people just saved him from nap-time. In thanks, he tried to share with them every single toy and crayon he could find. He welcomed them both with hugs and kisses, and couldn't stop bouncing around the house in utter joy that he had two new friends to play with.
Thank God. His overwhelming joy and happiness immediately confirmed that I was not a terrible mother and didn't go around beating him for fun. They really delighted in how excited and happy he was. I guess that went into "Points for John and Gina not being evil, scumbag parents."
They asked typical questions you would expect to be asked if someone suspected you of abuse. They also asked for a full account of what happened (or didn't happen, in this case) at daycare. Finally, they did a quick tour of the house to ensure there was hot water, electricity and food. Good thing I'd just gone food-shopping, huh?
I have a follow-up appointment with these folks today. I'll be getting a full report from the school regarding how Vincent sustained these injuries. I've already given an earful to the Director responsible for not calling John and I when Vincent fell. I've also spoken with his teacher who was in the class when the fall happened. I honestly can't wait to speak with the teacher who witnessed the fall (she wasn't in when I dropped him off this morning). I can't imagine they'd hurt him in any way, but I still need to know exactly what happened.
I don't think that's too much to ask, especially given that my life has now been interrupted three times by a government agency that has the ability to take my son away if they feel like we don't stock enough hot dogs in the fridge.
Prayers would be welcome.
As for Vince, he's doing fine. Aside from the occasional "Owww, Mommy!" I don't think he realizes how lucky he is. God is good. <3
Thanks to Anabelle of Written by the Finger of God for the vote of confidence. She shared this award with me and six other bloggers whom she felt divulged worthwhile Catholic information in an otherwise secular interweb full of celebrity gossip, violent news stories, and a dose of anti-religious propaganda.
Awards like this also serve to open the door to little known bloggers for Christ (myself included). Connecting with one another through recognition such as this is a great way to affirm one another and the small ways in which we work to spread the message of God's love in our everyday lives.
So thank you again, Anabelle, for the affirmation. I look forward to sharing it with seven new bloggers!
1. Post the award on your blog.
2. Thank the one who nominated you and link back to their blog.
3. Share your favorite Bible passage and WHY it's your favorite!
4. Nominate 7 others and let them know you did so!
My Nominees (in alphabetical order)
Catholic Dads - so many of my readers are women that I wanted to point out this site. GREAT reads!!!
Dymphna's Road - very thought provoking and ALWAYS breathtaking artwork
Life Victorious - collection of raw, honest bloggers sharing their struggles to chase down the Lord.
Liturgical Time - I seriously always learn something new when I go there. Always.
The Way Out There - intelligent, insightful homilies and political/social musings from a priest in Ireland.
Traditional Latin Mass - I almost feel like this is a cheat, but this blog is a collection of so many other blogs. I tend to start many mornings here cycling through the incredible information readily available courtesy of Deo volente's extensive research!
Truth, Beauty and Goodness - a real Catholic mom who tackles real Catholic topics. Plus, she's got a really adorable brood of babes!
Thanks, everyone, for giving me food for thought and developing my spiritual life. :)
Oh, and PS - my favorite quote should be pretty obvious by now. If it's not, feel free to
click here to find out what it is!
Faith and John
See that beautiful lady standing with my handsome husband?
She's my husband's ex-fiancée.
She's also one of my closest friends.
I should start at the beginning somewhere...
I met John in college, just as he was coming off a terrible break-up with Faith. In fact, I found out he'd broken up with her as he chucked his cell phone halfway down the hall in disgust. Go figure.
In the coming months, I'd hear about her in passing - much the same as anyone hears of their significant other's ex, I guess. By the time John and I started dating a few months later, he'd gotten rid of most photos that he'd had of her. That didn't stop me from looking, though.
I'll be honest. It wasn't my proudest of moments, but I definitely went "psycho girlfriend" and tore through his bedroom one day looking for any shred of evidence she existed. After all, she wasn't just a girlfriend... she was a FIANCEE, and that was a dangerous title to have lingering around when you've got your sights set on marrying the guy.
So yes, I went tearing through his stuff in order to find a photo to console myself that at the very least I was prettier than her.
Terrible, TERRIBLE move on my part. I found a photo of her. Of course I did. I wasn't gonna stop until I did! He must've forgotten it was tucked away in a drawer, but I found it, and she was GORGEOUS. Her hair was all done up, she had her adorable "I'm Faith, and everything is wonderful in the world" smile glowing, and she was wearing one of her typical "I can wear anything and somehow pull it off amazingly" outfits. Looking at that photo immediately made me regret my decision to go snooping. Of COURSE he'd wanted to marry her. Look at her! She's freakin' adorable. She's textbook definition of "cute as a button" and I could tell that her personality matched.
Gosh dang it... that really sucked.
At this point, I hadn't met her. All I knew about her was that she looked like Snow White, part of the group disliked her, she betrayed John, and she was currently hanging out with some loser.
That didn't stop me from feeling the flames of competition. About a year into our relationship, I found out Faith was going to be at a common event amongst our friends. I, the "new girl" had been readily accepted into the group of friends - her friends - without question. I was "one of the guys" and everyone loved me. That wasn't' enough, though. I wanted to be loved more than Faith. I wanted to be better friends with the group than her. I wanted to prove to John, through his friends, that he had made the right decision and that this Faith chick needed to be kicked to the curb forever.
Terrible, I know. There's a happy ending in here somewhere, I promise.
Anyway, we met at a college party. I was nice to her - sweetly so. I wasn't going to let on that I would simply "out-nice" her and again be seen as everyone's favorite darling. I was even complemented on how well I handled meeting the ex... especially when she made herself at home dancing too close to John on a few occasions. I didn't let on, though. I wasn't going to let a thing like exposed jealousy taint my image as the confident, lovable girlfriend. Instead, I went right along with the charade and gained brownie points with everyone there due to my relaxed, fun and level-headed charm.
This charade went on for months. We'd meet up, I'd be nice on the surface, secretly seething, and then I'd make tiny comments to John later. Small, innocuous comments that would slowly but surely add up to him agreeing that she wasn't worth spending time with.
Ugh. Just thinking about this makes me cringe. Being honest about the past, however, makes you that much more aware and appreciative of the present, and so, bear with me.
Just before John and I got married, things somehow changed. I wish I could remember the catalyst. For the life of me, though, I can't! All I remember is sitting in John's car talking about her. I don't know how she came up, and I don't remember what it was that we were talking about. All I know is that during the course of that conversation, I went from intensely disliking her to feeling a true spark of compassion for her. It wasn't pity, and it wasn't "Oh... poor Faith." It was more like, "Aww... that's so sweet. This is the first time I've even considered the fact that she's a decent human being, and not only do I think she's decent, I think she's just about the sweetest person ever!"
See why I'm so frustrated over the fact that I can't remember what, exactly, made her the sweetest person ever? Chances are you're just as curious as me (and now Faith as she undoubtedly reads this).
I've already asked John. He doesn't remember either. Boo.
Anyway, at the moment the realization hit me, I actually said to John, "You realize I'm probably going to try to make her one of my best friends now, right?"
The change was THAT instantaneous.
However, just because my heart had changed towards Faith didn't mean my actions did all at once. I wasn't sure what to do with my new-found affection for her. It felt awkward and bashful. I had a lot of pent up guilt for having been such a jerk to her; I almost went overboard trying to quietly overcompensate for my previous mistakes.
Little by little, though, I found my footing with her. Little by little we managed to work around our rough edges, slowly but surely smoothing them out until they became forgotten vestiges of a history that didn't belong to us. Slowly we began to reach out towards one another, no longer afraid of imagined threats, but looking forward to trusted support and adventure.
Somehow, we became friends.
And now that I think about it, I remember what it was that sparked such an intense change. We were talking about Faith because we had originally been talking about Henry - MY ex.
I was talking about how I missed the fact that my friendship with him died alongside our relationship. He had been my best friend. It didn't seem fair that the friendship had to die just because we couldn't work as a couple. It turns out John felt the same pang of loneliness for the friendship he had had with Faith. He, too, missed the fun and joy she brought, and in that moment, I realized that my selfish, arrogant and jealous actions had caused John to miss out on Faith. I realized it had also caused ME to miss out on her, too. If John was able to see so much good in her, obviously she had something special to offer.
The same as I wanted John to see the good in Henry (and truth be told, Frank), I realized he wanted desperately for me to see the good in Faith. That was the moment my heart melted into my shoes and I readily accepted Faith as someone my husband deeply cherished. Just as John would never need to feel threatened by Henry or Frank, I knew I'd never need to feel threatened by her.
And thus began the blossoming of a real friendship. I think Faith reached a mature decision about me before I did about her (I'm ashamed to say), but I'm glad she stuck it out long enough for me to come to my senses. She didn't turn me away when I began testing the waters with her. She didn't shut me out as she had every right to do. She accepted my attempts at friendship because that's simply who she is - a wonderful person with a big heart. I don't think it's in her to turn love away. She really is too sweet of a person. :)
So over the last 5 years, we've continued to build upon those... less than savory foundations. I think it's safe to say we gutted the basement, restructured the entire thing, and made quite the house for ourselves.
In all honesty, she made it easy. She's such an open, trusting person. She never hesitated to share things with me. She never hesitated to include me on stories or updates on even the most random things.
As such, I began to really appreciate and understand her as a person. I think our relationship has forced me to really grow in a lot of ways precisely because of how wrong I was when I first met her. Plus, she's opened my world to so many ridiculous and wonderful things that I'd otherwise be without.
Jewerly-making? That's her fault. Sewing? Also her fault. Terrible sense of humor? Eh... toss up between her and John. For the sake of this entry, though, let's blame her.
These last few months, I've really, REALLY grown to appreciate our friendship. Every time we hang out, even if it's briefly, I feel better. I look forward to seeing her. I look forward to hanging out. I get a real thrill from the jolt of love and positivity we seem to dose one another with. Even if we're both complaining about everything that's going on in our lives, we tend to have a good laugh and console ourselves with adventure.
She's a real blessing in my life. I'm incredibly lucky God smacked some sense into me and forced me to realize what a gem she is. I've got a lot of incredibly wonderful people in my life. Faith is most certainly one of the best.
So that, folks, is our story. Friendship found in the most impossible of places. However, when you consent to open the door - for even a moment - the power of love can do amazing things. It really, really can. :)
Update: I got an e-mail that made me laugh and then appreciate Faith all the more. Sharing a snippet here because it's true, and even if the author is spiteful, just proves all the more that love is stronger than even the most blinded hate. Maybe this reader will one day wish to be MY best friend. ;) *Grin*
"I'm glad you're ashamed of yourself! You should be for how you treated that poor girl. No way would I be so willing to accept such a snake into my heart. You should be on your knees thanking God every day that she didn't trample you underfoot, or that your husband didn't leave you in spite of yourself."
Meh. True on all counts. And I do realize how lucky I am for being given a second chance after being so terribly childish to her early on. What can I say? She's a better person than I am - it's why I wanted so much to befriend her upon realizing it! :)
Atheist and Catholic - meh, we make it work.
My cousin posted an article on FB the other day requesting the help of any "Catholic friends" explaining to him how Catholics can allow a mother to die a horrible death just so they don't have to perform an abortion that might save her life.
Some of you might remember the article I linked last week regarding the case of Savita Halappanavari, a pregnant mother who miscarried and subsequently died in an Irish hospital after being denied the D&C that might've saved her life. Father Burke of The Way Out There made some fabulous points, but the one I liked best was the Doctrine of Double Effect. It's the doctrine that always jumps to mind when cases like this crop up.
I remember first hearing about it as a senior in High School during a special philosophy class I took at Rosemont College (this and Eudaimonia are the two things I'll forever remember from that class!).
Anyway, I volunteered to explain to him what was going on when I got in front of a real keyboard (since I was still in Florida and only had an iPad to work with). This was my explanation, but I figured I'd share it here for anyone who is interested. I didn't include stories of mothers who chose to sacrifice themselves for their children, nor those mothers who beat the odds.
My explanation is far from gospel considering the facts haven't all presented themselves, but I think it's important to distinguish the difference between our stance on abortion as birth control vs. abortion as a life-saving measure when all other options have been exhausted.
Thank God for an actual keyboard; how my fingers have missed thee! Onwards with the explanation!
College senior Gina.
When I was a senior in college, I somehow convinced my mother to accept the fact that I'd be flying off to Ireland for a 10 day trip as part of a course I was taking. It was an elective, but I'd always wanted to travel and I'd always wanted to go to Ireland. Why not do both under the guise of academic success, right?
Well, the only thing keeping me from being totally psyched about my trip to the Emerald Isle was the flight. I'd never been on an airplane before. I was scared stupid, quite frankly. At this point in my life, I was a lack-luster Catholic at absolute best. I didn't attend Mass, I was all sorts of pro-homosexual agenda, I still held onto several new-age theories, and, though I prayed, it was very much the selfish "God, please make X, Y and Z happen for me" type prayer that doesn't really count as communication so much as whining for stuff that was bad for me.
Anyway, I was still Catholic enough to know I needed Confession before I met my Maker (which, again, I was sure would happen if I boarded that plane!). So I rushed to find a priest who agreed to take me last-minute (we're talking the night before I left).
The entire ride up to the airport I was nervous. I joked off most of my nerves, but I could feel the anxiety welling up inside me. I had asked my mother to get me a scapular so I could have it for protection (again, I wasn't the best Catholic, but I knew enough to enlist the help of Our Lady). She found a Green Scapular (which I've since come to know and love). I had that baby clutched in my right hand and wrapped around my wrist. I also carried my Pieta book and a rosary in my right hand. To be safe, I carried a tiny bit of Lourdes water with me as well. I wasn't using these items as they were intended (not like I knew that at the time), but I felt better that they were on my person.
Anyway, my friend sat next to me the entire time. He'd flown plenty, so he wasn't the least bit concerned. I thought sitting next to the window would help. I couldn't have been further from the truth.
We were sitting directly behind the wings. I had a perfect view of their span. As the plane began racing down the runway, I began saying the Hail Mary. Being as terrified as I was, I also began to cry. We hadn't even taken off and I was freaking out. My friend was trying to calm me down as best he could, but nothing could convince me I wasn't about to die in a fireball of doom.
Then, it happened. Thinking about it now makes me physically cringe. Ugh. I looked out the window to assure myself that everything was OK when I felt the lift-off. Trying to convince myself all was well, I looked out my window only to see the wing begin to "break apart."
In all reality, the wing was operating as it's supposed to, but as someone who has never flown, I had no idea they were supposed to break into little panels to control air flow. I just thought they broke and we were now going to die.
At the same time the wing "broke," I saw that the plane was dipping sharply to the side - the side which I just witnessed the wing "breaking apart." I couldn't even finish my prayers anymore. I was SHOUTING (yes, SHOUTING) "Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary, Hail Mary!" over and over again as I clutched my rosary, scapular and Pieta book. My friend had given up attempting to console me and was probably trying to figure out how to best stuff his fist down my throat to shut me up. Not that I'd've blamed him. I was a mess!
The shouts of "Hail Mary" continued for at least a full two or three minutes. I felt like a lunatic. When the plane finally leveled off and the seat belt sign flashed off, I saw a hand reach over the seat in front of me with a handful of tissues. I didn't see her face, but I heard her ask, "First time flying, dear?"
Someone should've just shot me where I sat. I was incredibly embarrassed. Words just... they can't possibly do my embarrassment justice.
For the next 5 1/2 hours, people were coming up to me to ask if I was the screaming woman from take-off. My classmates and professor, too, came back to make sure I hadn't tried offing myself. Oh my goodness... I can't believe how ridiculous I acted... how many other people I might've scared... how many children I might've scared!
As my brother pointed out, "Is screaming like that really how you plan to spend your last moments? Even if the plane WAS going down, what would screaming have done?"
Ever since he made that point, I've been relatively OK with flying (and with everything else, actually). I can't prevent the inevitable, but I can trust that God will take care of things as He sees fit. That was probably the first concrete realization I had that I need to give up some of the control I had to have over everything in my life.
But I digress.
That's the story of my first flight. Highly embarrassing, especially when you consider I was an adult at the time. Ugh. But lesson learned - wings don't break apart, and the ground that comes rushing up at you doesn't mean the engine died... it just means we're turning. Good to know for first-time fliers. I honestly wish someone had told me that. Ha ha!
We flew down to Florida on Thanksgiving Day. It was Vincent's first ride on a plane, and I have to admit - he was incredible. Considering Mommy's first plane ride was woefully embarrassing, I was proud that Vince handled the entire adventure like a champ.
As we entered the plane, I made a little cross on the entrance hatch with my thumb and asked God to protect the staff and passengers aboard (did the same thing coming back!). I held his hand on the ascent (so did Daddy) and fed him fruit snacks to keep his ears popping in between Hail Marys. He played on the iPad most of the flight, then snuggled into my lap for his nippy-nap.
My father-in-law was there to pick us up from the airport. John, Vince and I traveled down with John's two sisters, our one brother-in-law, and our niece. As he drove us back to the house, I texted my mom to let her know we'd touched down safely. It was then that I noticed the notification that I'd received an e-mail from a friend.
I'm going to post the e-mail here with all identifying information removed. I could've died.
Seriously... I could've died reading that. I got teary-eyed myself (and I told her so!). But wow. I told her how happy I was that she'd discerned the calling of God and reaffirmed that He was chasing her down because He loved her so much. It was a nice reminder of how wonderful our Father is... how much He loves us... how hard He tries to win us all back to Himself. He lines things up in such a way that we can't help but acknowledge His Hand in everything. And what a splendid picture He painted for her! How blessed am I to have been a part of it!
I told her that her message topped my list of Things to be Thankful For. Such beautiful reminders of how much God loves us and how far He's willing to go to remind us of that love... it's just incredible.
And to use such an innocuous conversation as a small signal that He's thinking about her. Take every opportunity, folks. Everyone opportunity that presents itself is your chance to help Divine Providence along. Just open the door to communication and God will take care of the rest. Just... incredible. What an amazing Thanksgiving surprise. :)
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