|Overlooking headstones at SJU|
Oddly enough, my "happy" place, is a plot of dead men. A cemetery. Don't call me crazy (just yet), just call me a woman who seeks out the utterly quiet in a chaotic life.
I had just found out that a fellow wounded warrior wife (actually fiance) had died on Christmas Eve. I'm not here to speculate how she died, the fact that she's gone is quite enough. The fact that her fiance died not much before her, heart wrenching.
Suicide, overdoses, affairs, bankruptcy, addictions.... These are big battles. For some reason, these battles didn't take me down like she did. I guess it was because there was always a healthy distance between the other fights and myself. This time, this was close. There was not one tiny iota of difference between her and I. So, why her? Why not me? My family?
I tried to pull myself together long enough to run out to my parents to celebrate an after Christmas Christmas. The tears, the random sobs, the hurt stuck in the back of my throat.... I could not swallow it down. I sent the husband out before me. I needed solitude. I needed to not be needed for just a few minutes, to reflect, to repent, to pray to God it will never hit my family.
When I felt I was well enough to go, I got in my car. I drove around in circles for a few minutes, but after that, I felt the strong urge to drive to St. John's. It really is a beautiful campus, and one that means more to me than I will ever be able to say.
At the top of the ramp, turning into the campus, it was not clear to me until that moment. I was going to see the "Guys". The old Priests whom my mother has spent years caring for, some of whom I had the pleasure of caring for in my tenure there.
Taking a right, up the side road to the headstones, I pulled up haphazardly. I looked over the stones, and with a half smile, I said aloud, "Hi guys...." and then the tears came. The ones who I had come for, there stones stood ice covered and protected by snow right in front. Waiting for me.
I got out of the car and went straight to Father Silvan. Out of all my years, my ups and downs, he always was level and warm, and it mattered not to him that while I cared for him, I carried a child out of wedlock.
Standing over him, my heart poured out, and I know he was listening. I immediately felt a heavy burden taken off my already worn shoulders. It was then I laughed.... A memory laced my pain...
"Mischievous" That is what he always called me. Even on the eve of his dying day. We'd argue about how to pronounce it. He said "Mischeeee vous" and I said, "Mischee VI ous". He always laughed at my challenges....never once telling me to look it up. It was the day he died I looked it up and found that he was right.
I laid a kiss on his headstone and moved on, and it was like a happy family reunion. Recognizing names I haven't heard of in years, names I remember from my childhood that my Mother would mention, names that meant great things to her, too.
I took some amazing pictures of the cemetery, of all the wise men I knew, and bid them farewell. It was all I needed to move to my next destination.
So all these years, especially these last few, I realize, I have been doing this life all wrong. You must ALWAYS find a place that evokes these peaceful emotions. Places that you can go and leave your baggage with old sentry's minding it for you.
I wish I would have remembered this sacred place sooner, but perhaps now, it is even greater in meaning.
So with that, please, find your place in this crazy world. Seek it out, and seek it often.
Thanks Guys +
In loving memory of J.M. and M. D. may God keep you.