It used to be that I only had seven siblings, but then my widowed mother married a widower, and nine more siblings became a part of it. Brenda is Jim’s oldest, and I am Karol’s youngest. We had only met two times when we decided to walk the Camino de Santiago de Compostela, which is a 500-mile trek across northern Spain, ending at the resting place of St. James the Greater’s relics. We will be leaving this summer.
In 2005, Easter was on March 27, and Divine Mercy Sunday was on April 3. It’s the same this year. It will be 141 years before this will happen again. See if you can recall Easter 2005. For me, it will always be bright in my memory.
You know how you sometimes buy a $100 raffle ticket for a chance to win a trip to the Holy Land, and then regret the purchase because for that kind of money, you ought to be walking away with groceries in your hands? But then you realize the money is going for a good cause — the parish — so then you forgive yourself, and then you forget about it, but then you win?
Treasures are funny. So are those little boxes that we keep them in. Usually, when someone finds our treasure chests, the “treasure” part might not be immediately recognizable. I have an old shirt box with scraps of paper, and it is full of gems — that is, they are gems to me: written gems.
There are very few things that I have consistently done since 1988. Some of this is a mercy. Blue eye shadow is no longer among my cosmetics; shoulder pads are absent from my closet. However, since January 1988, two great friends have been in place, and we have a wonderful story.
James Parker came out at age 17 and later entered into a relationship with another man. He worked as a gay activist for a while, but his personal experiences of intimacy and human sexuality eventually led him to grasp that “same-sex marriage just doesn’t exist; even if you want to say that it does.” He concluded that trying to persuade those with homosexual inclinations that they can have marriage like heterosexual couples is basically to “hoodwink” them: “Deep down, there is no mystery between two men, ultimately.“
Each year it’s a little different. Some years the anniversaries pass quietly; this year they were harder. On that December day after Mass when I told my friend that my younger child would have been 25 years old, the intensity of my tears surprised me. It was the same just a few months earlier when my older child would have been 26. The two “counselors” who spoke of the relief that abortion gives never mentioned that the ache of anniversaries intensifies after your own mother dies. Maybe they didn’t know.