Wednesday, October 8, 2014

not a memory, but a presence


During the wake for my father this summer there was a moment, an instant, really, when that gap between earth and heaven was so thin, so fine, it was nonexistent.

As our family knelt, saying the rosary in Spanish with the rest of the community, I was suddenly transported to my family’s living room—the one I lived in when we were in Río Piedras, PuertoRico, when I was 13. That night, I glanced around the room, much as I did a million times as a child observing the five adults in my family. 

This wasn’t a memory. It was something much bigger, much simpler, much truer than that.

What I experienced in that one instant was nothing short of the communion of saints, right there with us in St. Joseph’s Church in Norman, Oklahoma.

Papi was leading us in the rosary. Across the room were my  grandfather Alipio and his wife Josefita—each responding loud and in their own speed! And near me was my dad’s mother, another Josefa, the one that I shared a bedroom with.

I’ve experienced these “thin places” before, like I did kneeling in Nazareth at the cave of the annunciation—or standing before the remains of the Murrah Building bombing site in Oklahoma City.

That night at the church, I couldn’t help but smile seeing Papi already back with the family he loved. I closed my eyes as we said together, “come era en un principio, ahora y siempre...” And when I opened them again, I was back on the front pew, kneeling, holding my husband’s hand.

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No news to report on the grandbaby front! Our family is still waiting—in joyful expectation for that new baby boy to arrive. 

As I said the other day, it's impossible for me to think about this new baby without remembering Papi, and the joy he felt with ms. Sofia, who is now all of 9 months old. 

There is nothing like a newborn to put into perspective what really matters. Also a practical reminder that sometimes change can be unsolicited, unexpected—and still delightful.

The baby’s due date, by the way, is October 15—which happens to be his father’s (my son's!) birthday… and the feast of one of my favorite saints, Saint Teresa of Avila.


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“To have courage for whatever comes in life — everything lies in that.”
~Teresa of Avila