Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Enduring Heart

I cleaned up my bookcase yesterday.

That was a major accomplishment for me. I don't know why it took so much effort to tackle this, but at least I finally did it. I love my books - I love all books, as any writer usually does. Yet despite my bibliophile love, my neglect made it seem as though my stacks of books were bursting at the seams. Finally, slowly, I cleaned it by sections, put my most important books together at one end, and washed the dust off the wood as I went along.

My most valuable books are now in categories of faith, food, and shelter. My daughter gave birth to the most beautiful baby girl three and a half weeks early.

Tonight, I can't sleep.  I am one hundred and twenty six miles away from her, or approximately two hours and sixteen minutes by bus. One hundred and twenty six miles from helping my baby with her first birth. This precious, beautiful girl, Josette Marie, was born a teeny six and a half pounds, and has lost some ounces since then, because little Josette prefers to sleep and cuddle with her mom, rather than eat. Her momma, my girl, is caught between the indescribable joy of the miracle of giving birth, and the unavoidable worry (and lack of sleep) that is the constant companion of parenthood.

I never felt so helpless in all my life.

My body, curse it (no, I don't really mean that!) does not do what it used to do. I try, I really do, but it responds with aches and pain and if I push my limits too much, then the resulting pain is excruciating, along with fatigue. My reflexes, (and brain) are not as fast as in my younger days.

So tonight, I think about how much I want to help my daughter, how I want to be at her side, and I feel helpless. Despite how tired I feel, I stare at the darkened walls and sleep evades me.

My dogs, Emma and Sam, lucky them, are the picture of relaxation, spread out on the bed that refuses to give me sleep.

I decided to turn on the light and look at some of the books formerly buried in piles of confusion. "Left to Tell," by Immaculee Ilibagiza, is the first one I pick up. While I remember reading about her testimony as the only survivor of her family (indeed, I think her entire village) of the Rwandan genocide in 1994, I didn't even remember buying it.

Sigh. Thank you brain. I will read this soon.

I put that one down, and pick up the book my dear friend Mary gave me so many years ago. "The Enduring Heart," by Wilkie Au. The day before my next birthday, when I turn sixty in April of 2013, Mary (O'Flaherty) Floyd will have been gone for three years.

Her obituary stated "In the past 15 years, she split her time between Winthrop and Ireland. She dedicated her life to serving and sharing the love of God."

She certainly did. Mary taught me the rosary, encouraged me to return to Mass, but most of all, she was an example of the true love of God. She was kind to everyone, stranger or friend, and extended her hand to anyone who needed help. My best memories are filled with cups of tea with Mary, along with one rosary after another. It was said many times that her husband feared she'd give their house away right out from under them, her love for her fellow man and woman was so deep.

I miss her so. And now, when my forth and last born is going through the joys and worries with her newborn baby, I think back to when I was a new mother, and Mary was my guide and prayer partner, helping through my insecurities, fears, worries as a new mom, through ear infections and pneumonia. Mary, a retired nurse, was the one who told me to rush my two year old first born, Carrie, to the hospital. She recognized the signs of pneumonia, something her pediatrician insisted was only an allergy. Thanks to Mary (and a two week stay at the hospital), my little Carrie survived.

Her friendship meant the world to me. Although later, I moved away, and wasn't as close in later years, she never left my heart. It was so comforting to pick up the phone and hear her voice (I seemed to sense when she returned from Ireland).

I miss her so...

Tonight, I looked at that book, the book I never found the time to read. Although I've lost so many possessions throughout the years (even, to my shock and sorrow, losing the precious beads that I used while praying with her), I held onto this book. It stayed with me through my many, moves, from one city to another, from Massachusetts to Arizona and back again. Tonight, I picked it up, and read the inside cover.

"For most of us, living in the good times is easy. When we are young and healthy," (OK, that's when the tears began), "when life seems brimming with possibilities, it's a simple matter to move ahead confidently and believe that the all-loving God smiles on our endeavors. At the same time, we all know those days will not last forever." (now the tears are really covering my face) "Life brings trials and sadness. Not only that, but most of us will live to be much older than our parents. People need a spirituality for the long haul that will last and bear fruit long after the spring rains and summer sunshine are gone. Is it possible to live vibrantly and confidently even then?"

Mary, who was as close to a spiritual adviser as I've ever had, once told me that time means nothing to God. I forgot her exact words, but it was something to the effect that it doesn't exist in the spiritual world. (Which, to me, is so hard to comprehend).

The book my friend gave to me about twenty or twenty-five years ago (while she was then, around my current age) is so appropriate for me right now.

Thank you, Mary, for such a perfect gift, at such a perfect time.

No comments: