the Week that Was*


We knew we were in for a week. When the calendar pages were inked in, we knew it was going to be rough going. Shawn's funeral on Saturday. Granddad's burial on Monday. No way around it. The hurt was going to run raw and deep.

It's not like the prior week had been a walk in the park. You know? The week with Spring Break written across seven days in bright, pink, optimistic ink?  Patrick came home sick and got sicker over the week. Shawn died on Wednesday and we all grieved with Michael--grieved for Michael. Life moved in slow motion, but not the good slow motion of respite and vacation. Instead, it was the forced slow motion of thick emotion. By Friday, I didn't care that Patrick's primary care doctor was in Charlottesville, I took him to our pediatrician, who diagnosed strep throat. He diagnosed me with the same and I figured we'd both turn around quickly. Patrick went back to school, tried to go back to training, and ended up in the team doctor's office first thing, the first day back. That Tuesday, he was diagnosed with mono.

Patrick came home with his coach Friday afternoon. The coach was a friend of Shawn's, coming north for the memorial service. (If it seems like everyone was a friend of Shawn's, it's not an illusion.) We all cried through Saturday. Patrick's eyes swelled with everyone else's, but they seemed to stay swollen. Then came Monday. Again, we all cried. Patrick was  faucet. I kind of insisted he stay home Tuesday and just rest. He did. Wendesday morning, Mary Beth drove him back to school and I fought the voice telling me that I should be the one to go and to stay. {Never again will I fight a voice that sounds like God. I'm very certain I heard the Holy Spirit and said, "La La La La."} He went again to the team doctor. She took one look at him and sent him straight away to UVa hospital, where no fewer than six eye specialists looked with wonder and awe and not a little respect at the disease in his eyes. 

He called me and casually said, "Yeah, it's not pink eye. It's scleritis." 

Clearly, Mr. Casual had not yet Googled.

I did. And then I started packing before I even finished reading. I scooped up Sarah, called my stepmother, and threw bags in the car. Before I left the neighborhood, the team doctor called. I told her I was on my way and asked if I were overrreacting. 

"No, no! Come on! You need to be here." And she talked to me for the next half hour as I drove west.

So I met with doctors and coaches and contacted teachers and tried to persuade my boy to eat. We looked at his new diagnosis from every angle and watched and waited to see what his eyes would do. On Friday, we drove home.

Sunday was Kristin's baby shower.

Sunday night, I drove back to Charlottesville with Patrick and Sarah.

Today, we repeat last week's rounds. 

Throughout the last few days, we've had exactly one conversation about blindness. 

Patrick, on the stairs of the athletic building as we walked up to see the coaches: You know, I could lose my eyesight (clearly, Mr. Casual decided to Google after all).

Me: I know, but we're not to where you need to worry about that yet.

Patrick: If I were blind, I couldn't play soccer. 

Me: True. (And a million other unsaid things.)

With the exception of a small hemorrhage Saturday night, he's been making steady positive progress. I think today should be full of good news. Often, scleritis is a harbinger of an autoimmune disease. In Patrick's case, it appears to be the complication of mono. That's been reported one other time in medical history, from what we can find. He's a little impressed with himself as nearly everyone who has anything to do with eyes at the big teaching hospital comes to take a look.

I've missed being in this virtual spot with you. I have so many thoughts in my head these days, but they find their way, handwritten, into my journal. Shawn's life--and Shawn's death--weigh heavy and so I process with words and ponder in my heart. 

The calendar page will turn tomorrow. And with it, we all look expectantly to the hope and joy of the spring.

Gospel from this Sunday (well, yes...)

John 9:1, 6-9, 13-17, 34-38

As Jesus passed by he saw a man blind from birth.
He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva,
and smeared the clay on his eyes,
and said to him, 
“Go wash in the Pool of Siloam” — which means Sent —.
So he went and washed, and came back able to see.

His neighbors and those who had seen him earlier as a beggar said, 
“Isn’t this the one who used to sit and beg?”
Some said, “It is, “
but others said, “No, he just looks like him.”
He said, “I am.”

They brought the one who was once blind to the Pharisees.
Now Jesus had made clay and opened his eyes on a sabbath.
So then the Pharisees also asked him how he was able to see.
He said to them,
“He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and now I can see.”
So some of the Pharisees said,
“This man is not from God,
because he does not keep the sabbath.”
But others said,
“How can a sinful man do such signs?”
And there was a division among them.
So they said to the blind man again, 
“What do you have to say about him,
since he opened your eyes?”
He said, “He is a prophet.”

They answered and said to him,
“You were born totally in sin,
and are you trying to teach us?”
Then they threw him out.

When Jesus heard that they had thrown him out,
he found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”
He answered and said, 
“Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?”
Jesus said to him,
“You have seen him, and
the one speaking with you is he.”
He said,
“I do believe, Lord,” and he worshiped him.


 Our life is sometimes similar to that of the blind man who is open to the light, who is open to God, who is open to his grace. Sometimes, unfortunately, our life is a little like that of the doctors of the law: from the height of our pride we judge others, and, in the end, the Lord! Today we are invited to open ourselves up to the light of Christ to bear fruit in our life, to eliminate non-Christian ways of acting; we are all Christians, but all of us, all of us, at times act in ways that are not Christian, we act in ways that are sinful. We must repent, we must stop acting in these ways so we can set out decisively on the road of sanctity. This road has its beginning in Baptism. We too are “enlightened” by Christ in Baptism, so that, as St. Paul notes, we can walk as “children of light” (Ephesians 5:8), with humility, patience, mercy. These doctors of the law did not have humility, patience or mercy! ~Pope Francis


Dear Lord, It is spiritual blindness that is the most frightening of all. Please God, let me see everything you put in my path with humility, patience, and mercy.


Pope Francis suggests this: I would like to suggest to you open the Gospel of John and read this passage of chapter 9. It will do you well, because in this way you will see this road from blindness to light and the other, wicked road toward deeper blindness. Let us ask ourselves about the state of our heart. Do I have an open heart or a closed one? Open or closed to God? Open or closed to my neighbor? We always have some closure in us born of sin, of mistakes, of errors. We must not be afraid! Let us open ourselves up to the Lord. He awaits us always to help us see better, to give us light, to forgive us.


How can I pray for you today?

*It had been just a week when I started to write...