Fridays signal the end of the work week, and it’s always in the same place sandwiched between Thursday and Saturday right near the end of the calendar week. Friday’s arrival comes with a sense of relief, accomplishment, and anticipation. There is a reason why we say TGIF, because Fridays are a great reminder of new beginnings.
I smiled. We all smiled. The other three agreed. In unison, oh yeh, he was my favorite, too. They went on and on, and I told the story of my regret, and how I just found pictures and a letter of and from him, and yes, I admitted I had thought of him, both recently, and often.
Those lines are delivered by two characters. The sincerity and vulnerability of the lines, though originating from one, is shared by the two, both of their desire to be seen, to be understood, to be appreciated, and to be loved is so fervent that it is palpable.
Yesterday morning I spoke with my sister and shared my blues about being alone Christmas Day. Bridget will be with her father today, and I am not making Christmas dinner, which we’ve always shared with my parents. I was dreading being alone. In spite of my little pep talk, about subtracting “no” and “can’t” from my vocabulary, I was falling right into the trap I desperately wanted to avoid: Self-pity.
Remembering my Grandma’s smile
Remembering my Dad chasing us around the house tickling us as kids
Remembering my Dad’s beard in the morning when he came home from a shift at the firehouse
Remembering my Dad rubbing his scratchy beard and cold face on our cheeks as we ate our breakfast
The threshold is God’s waiting room: Have you ever read something so lovely? I see the world through God’s eyes on walks with the dogs when I hear every bird, when I stop to appreciate the Hawk – in sheer awe of its wingspan – hunting for prey, when I awake and stand at the window counting the different colors of the morning sunrise, when I take the dogs out for their last visit before bedtime and bask in the moonlight, when I kiss my daughter goodnight and tell her that I love her, and when I place my head on my pillow each night and thank God for every moment when he made his presence that day. This is the best waiting room ever.
Sin was a big deal when I grew up. There were cardinal sins and venial sins. Committing a cardinal sin would land you in hell. My father had little tolerance for liars. He was adamant that liars are the worst sinners of all. If you are not truthful, you can’t be trusted. And if you aren’t trustworthy, well your life will be very lonely.
Much like Maya Angelou, I never met a day like today. The day had not begun when I walked to the garage. I entered a yard of darkness. The sky above was so clear and black with its stars so sharp and plentiful that it appeared to be randomly pierced by a dart that invited narrow streams of light to emerge, all of which were superseded by the size and splendor of the sensational half-moon, whose white light just bathed me as I walked out to the garage. I stood in awe of its beauty. I stood grateful for the moment and the presence of mind to welcome yesterday’s ending and today’s beginning.
There are these moments in our lives when a person comes into it, presented like a perfectly wrapped present, with a tag reading, “Enjoy this gift. Love, God.” And that is what Maggie was, and remains. A constant source of laughter, love, and friendship.
My mother nor I had finished reading the collection. That afternoon we read poetry aloud to one another. It was intoxicating. Short of her sharing in my daughter’s birth, that afternoon will stand as one of the best, most intimate, loveliest moments with my mom. Later that evening, she did it again, reading the poetry to a group of women, who were strangers not an hour before. I was reminded of the first time she took the pulpit and read from the Old Testament at St. Thomas More. Her grace, presence, and ability to project every nuance of those readings had me wanting to tell the whole church. “Hey, that’s my mom.” I felt the same way that night. And like many experiences this past year, I believed that book, and every poem bathed in Gluck’s own pain derived from her own divorce, was meant for me to read and to listen to.