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Monday, January 13, 2014

All Ye Faithful

Shortly after you were hurt, a friend brought a bag of rosaries to the ICU.  I reached in and out it came.  Red.

I stared at it for awhile  before placing it around my neck.  It felt strange there, sort of weighing on my chest. I consider myself to be a spiritual person, but it felt different now.  It felt foreign to me.  I looked around at my family members and I felt like an imposter.  Here I was with this proud symbol around my neck, during the time in my life where I felt the farthest from anything remotely faithful.

After a few hours had passed I realized that this symbolic display was doing nothing for me.   As I watched it there, dangling on my shirt, I could feel the anger seething through.  If it weren't already red I would have seen it as such.

I imagined my second grade teacher, sliding us eager children into the pews.  Back then I had known every word, practiced the inflections in my sleep.  Blindly, I had searched for it week after week, and I had always found my answer.  Back when things were uncomplicated, it was so easy to see.

I had put the rosary into my purse that day, willing myself to forget as I have done so many times before.  During that time I didn't believe in anything.  Maybe I never had.

Two days later we almost lost you.  Down the hall you were on the brink, and your family recited the words we had all been trained to.  I listened to Dad as he lead us, and I found no comfort in those words.   I imagined you on the side of the road, writhing in pain and struggling to breathe, the rain beating you in the dark.  I thought of  your lungs, "trashed" is the word your doctor had used.  Even then I could see the life long repercussions.  And as you lay there dying I could only manage how unfair it all was.  I wondered if you were somehow aware of that moment, how close you were to leaving us forever.  I realize now that  was the darkest place I have ever been.  I was scared for you.  I was scared for myself.

Nothing more than a whisper, I had followed Dad's voice.   Our  final plea, so rehearsed.  The words seemed empty to me.   But  I had reached into my purse then, and I had felt it there.  Waiting for me.  My entire life it has been a reach away, waiting patiently amidst the clutter of my spare change. 

I began to beg in that moment.  Silently.  I begged for your life in the most pathetic of ways.  I begged for a chance to hear your voice again.  I begged for a lifetime of you. 

There were no psalms or revelations, no choir or fragmented responses.  I'm not even sure there were words.   My heart raced, and I shook.  My breathing slowed and I closed my eyes. 

And I begged.

After you pulled through I wore it every single day.  On my wrist, in fact.  I would rub my fingers through it when they entered to give us news.  Sometimes at work, when the light entered the window just right, the silver cross would glisten above my head as I wrote equations on the whiteboard.  It brushed against my son's skin as I knelt to kiss him goodnight, and when my heart would race with any news from your room, it would rise and fall in sync with my pulse.   I was wearing it on the days where I cried, and on the days where I laughed with my sister watching SNL skits in the waiting room.  It would catch my eye as I drove home from visiting you in the rehabilitation hospital, and I was wearing it the day you came home. 

After your ordeal, I am far from having it all figured out.  I'm a mess, to be quite honest.   But I have realized something important.    Whether it's faith in a doctor, a brother, or some being beyond all description, perhaps faith is nothing more than a reminder.  A resolve to trust that there is something larger than yourself.   Some days you have to give up control to see it.  Some days it's all you have.  

The rosary is no longer on my wrist everyday, but some nights I still fall asleep holding it.  On nights where I need that reminder, it softly pinches my skin as I toss and turn.  In the dark of the night I search for it.  Blindly.   Behind pillows and sheets there it is, buried under the weight of my days.  Soaked in the tears and the sweat, beneath every frustration and encased in the battle,  it is there.   

It has always been there.  Ready.  Even when I wasn't. 

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