I am getting this out from my head into cyberspace because I need to. It’s a selfish post, really. I was kneeling in Mass today. I pray. A lot. I am constantly trying to stay connected to God. Any who. So, I’m kneeling there in Mass as the priest is preparing the Eucharist. I heard in my heart God asking me to write a letter about how I felt the day my dad died. huh? “Are You sure, God?” Then, I understood the same way I knew about the writing that He knew I was always seeking Him. So, if I know I am hearing from Him, why do I question Him when I do? Well. Okay. You got me, God. So, here I am.
That day was terrible. I didn’t want to go to school because in my spirit, I knew something was so wrong. But I was pushed out of the door to go to the bus stop at the corner. It sucked. I didn’t want to go, but I was 8. And I never bucked the system. I remember before I left that I kissed my dad good-bye and he told me, “I love you, baby girl,” and those were the last words I would ever hear him say to me. And that would be the last time my life seemed “normal” which it wasn’t, but at least he was there when he wasn’t sick and in Houston. Around 2:00, my brother came to get me at school. I was at recess. Someone ran out to get me. My teacher, Mrs. Morrison, was looking at me with the most empathetic look I had ever seen. Then I saw my brother. And I knew. He picked me up and carried me out without saying anything. When we got to the front of the school, he put me down, kneeled down in front of me, held my arms lightly and said, “Mary, Daddy went to Heaven.” I remember standing there and the words hadn’t really hit me. They kind of bounced off me and were swirling around me unable to attach to me. I felt like I had left my own body as we walked to the car. Someone else was with us; I can’t remember who. I think we went to pick up my other brother at his school next. I’m not totally sure about that. I remember going home soon after and seeing a lot of cars in our driveway & parked along the street near our house. I walked into our house and just wanted my mom. She was lying down in my brother’s room and when I went to see her, she put her arms out, not to draw me to her, but to signal me away from her. And so it began. The unravelling of life as I knew it. Next thing I knew, the old housekeeper had me by the hand, leading me outside onto the back patio. No one was out there. It was cool and muggy. I had never even met this housekeeper in my life. I had heard good things about her, but I had never met her. We didn’t have much conversation. After that, I was much like those words I heard from my brother – the ones that were unable to attach anywhere – I was just floating around, looking for someplace to belong. We are Irish Roman Catholic and so there is a lot of celebration surrounding death. We had an Irish wake at our house (code for everyone gets bombed). I wore my Martha Washington dress (minus the bustle) to the funeral home with a pair of white patent leather shoes. I am writing only from my perspective, but I can’t help but think how extremely difficult this whole situation must have been for my mother. She had already lost her first-born daughter years before and I think life was just difficult back then for her. Anyway. We all stayed out of school for the rest of the week, I seem to remember. We went to my dad’s grave soon after and I remember wanting to bring a card to him. Hmm. I must have missed the whole death memo. It’s sweet in a way, I know. So, as I continue to strive to be obedient to God, I recollect feeling abandoned times two. From my dad and then my mom. I was afraid. Our home became pretty dysfunctional not long after. I remember my mom staying home with us for awhile before she got a job. I remember thinking she was so sad. I remember finding bottles of liquor hidden, fresh made drinks hidden above the sink in the cabinet. I don’t know what she thought. I recognized that these things were hidden, so I thought I shouldn’t say anything. “Hey, anybody left a bourbon on the rocks up here?” “No?” I would smell it and then put it back. When I would find a bottle, it was like finding a live grenade. I would find a fifth under her sink, close the cabinet, and just get the hell out of there. I think what God is trying to show me is something I learned almost two years ago from my favorite counselor ever, “Pain concealed is pain unhealed.” I wasn’t aware there was anymore pain associated with that time, but maybe there is. It is a little painful typing all this crap and remembering the aftermath. Not enough money. Not enough food. Roaches moved in. And brought all their relatives. No guidance. My sister really stepped up a few years later when she had grown up a little. The church would drop off a box of food every Christmas. It was pretty dysfunctional. Everyone kind of spiraled their own way. I never really knew what was normal. I have spent a lifetime guessing/trial & error. Finally, FINALLY, I realized that God is there. Has always BEEN there. Will always BE there. I can turn to Him ANYTIME. I just didn’t know it back then. My dad had introduced me to Jesus and I knew my mom knew Him, but I didn’t know how to get to know Him. That happened through trial & error, too.
Okay, God, I hope I have done what You have asked. I love you.