You light up my days...and fill my nights with song...

April 1, 2007

Dear Papa,

I had planned to write a long column this weekend, in time for tomorrow. But the baby was sick and my hands were full ,so all the writing I did was in my head.  I planned to write about that sobbing prayer two years ago, when I begged you to intercede for me. And then I'd write about all the little miracles strewn like roses in the days and weeks and months that followed.

Instead, I stayed up all night, dancing with my daughter.  She was feeling poorly and whimpering to be held. I gathered her up out of my bed and swayed with her in the darkness. For hours.  I sang my full repertoire of musicals.  I moved on to old Raffi tunes. I added a little Glory and Praise. And then, I switched to "You Light up my Life."  Her tears ceased and mine fell freely. I settled into the big chair, her head heavy against my chest and I remembered.

I remembered a time two years ago that was dark and sad. I was struggling with depression and so was Mike. Together, we were fumbling in confusion. Recovery from childbirth had been difficult. Recovery from a miscarriage more difficult. A year of infertility following that miscarriage was a year of pain like none I'd ever known. No light. Only darkness.  And on that Friday night, I held an eerie vigil in front of the muted television.

Please God, I don't know what I'll do without my Papa. And yet I know, I know that he is yours; he always was. Morning dawned and the day moved forward and then you were gone. And as naturally as the sobs escaped my throat, my soul begged your intercession. Tell Him, Papa! Please tell Him how sad I am, how much I want a baby, how much Mike needs him. Tell Him, Papa--I know you can.

And you did. Within an hour of that prayer, the answers began to become so clear.  You led us to a different parish. You put people in my path who would insist that I get to know the Little Flower you loved so well, the dear Saint you called a Doctor and by whom you trusted that the fullness of faith could be taught. She and you taught me about Love--Love incarnate, a good and gentle God who understood my pain and stooped to bind my wounds. I re-read all your letters to me. I read her words. Light dawned, love flickered.

Looking back, I should not be surprised that in the months following your death, I pushed by forces greater than me to travel. You were never afraid to travel. I had not been on an airplane in fifteen years. But I flew three times that year. The first time, I went Chicago and visited the shrine of St. Therese and left my petitions there. The last time, I went to Florida at my husband's insistence. We were there for an art gallery opening but we took a day trip to St. Augustine and the Shrine of Our Lady of La Leche.  I had a long talk with Our Lady that day. She already knew.I'm sure you told her.

One night, nine months after you died, my husband lit a candle in a church where you once celebrated Mass, in the presence of your relics. And then, our wait for a baby was over and yet it had begun. For nine more months, I was still, love growing inside of me.  I learned to love your favorite prayer and I prayed the rosary with St. Therese, sometimes twenty decades a day, including the five new decades that were your gift to me. All the time, I was almost afraid to believe, almost afraid to think that the light had returned and darkness was dispelled.

33070006  Then she was here.  A glorious, beautiful, darling little girl. We call her Karoline Rose. She is a shower of roses, a basket of blessings. She is sweetness and she is light.  As she grows, I will tell her.  I will tell her about her Papa. She will know you and she will be grateful to share your name.

But now, she calls again. Enough remembering. I am living in the present, embracing every moment. I know you're here. I know you see her dear, dimpled chin. I know you watch me kiss her fat little cheeks and I know you smile.

Thank you!