Over the course if the next several weeks, I will be publishing my story, as wife, mother, sister and daughter. This is the evolution of how a little girl can change the course of her mother’s story, can change the course of her heart. If your new to this blog, please begin here.
I waited for Jerry to claim us. He was standing in the back for Mass since all the wheelchairs were in the front. I wanted to tell him what had happened. I wanted him to tell me everything would be OK.
As my stomach grumbled for the second time in two minutes, I realized I was hungry and I wanted comfort food. A cupcake would do nicely, but I knew there would be soup waiting. I was feeling very vulnerable and very needy.
Jerry wove his way to the front and sat down on the stone bench next to me. He put his arm around me and I laid my head on his shoulder. He took a deep breath and sighed.
It’s never a good sign when Jerry sighs.
My head popped up. “What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Long morning. Let’s go get lunch.”
Now that was idea I could get behind. I always knew I married a smart guy.
Courtney chose that moment to give a lovely little yell just to make sure we did not forget why we were here. I chuckled.
“OK my princess. We’re going. Are you hungry?” I asked as I got up from the bench. I took the opportunity to kiss the top of her curly head and then we proceeded to wind our way through the crowd of pilgrims.
After we had crossed under the archway separating the grotto from the Domain, the noise level instantly rose. I felt like I was at the U.N. because there were so many different languages being spoken. I kept searching for the English.
Jerry was on my right as we began the long assent up the hill leading out of the Domain into the town of Lourdes and back to the hotel. Finally, I could tell him everything that had happened.
I dove right in.
When I am feeling stressed I tend to talk very fast. Today was no exception.
“You will not believe what happened to Courtney in the baths. It was so amazing. First, did you know you go into the water naked? I mean they made me take off everything. How come nobody told me that? ” I proceeded in a torrent of words like a tidal wave spilling forth to describe everything that happened in the water.
“Then I stepped into the water and it was freakin cold. I mean like iceberg cold. It took my breath away. I mean I couldn’t think of a thing to say. I had practiced the prayer we came up with and in that moment I just couldn’t remember a word of it. I’m so sorry honey. My brain just went blank. When the ladies asked me what I wanted them to pray for the only word I could think of was Acceptance. Weird right? What does that mean? We accept our daughter. We love her so why Acceptance? I’m totally confused. Does it mean accept God’s will? Does it mean she won’t be healed so accept it? I give up. I have no idea. I am so hungry. Are you hungry? My stomach is just rumbling. I wonder what kind of soup they will serve for lunch?”
I turned to my right to see what Jerry thought of everything I had shared. Except he wasn’t there. Instead there was a short elderly man with a beret sitting on his head. He was looking at me with a big smile, shaking his head “yes”.
Where the hell was Jerry? How long had I been talking to this man? What was happening?
I stopped walking and the elderly man tipped his head and said “Bon Jour Madame.”
“Bon Jour .” I tipped my head slightly and began to look around for Jerry. I looked behind me and saw him standing stock still about 15 steps away. His face was as white as his shirt. I thought he was going to faint.
I was surprised and a little irritated. There will be no fainting in Lourdes mister. Not today. Let’s go…Let’s go…there is soup…
I began to walk backwards which was tough with a wheelchair. I was afraid I was going run over someone’s foot or knock down an elderly person.
I was going to kill that man. What was his problem?
It took a moment or two to reach him. When I did, I let loose. “What are you doing? Are you going to faint? Does your chest hurt? Are you sick? We have to get to lunch. There is a schedule you know. How long was I talking to that little French man? So embarrassing. What? Why are you just standing here?”
I had my hand on my hip and the toe was tapping.
“Mar I went into the water.”
“You did? Jerry that’s awesome! I am so proud of you. That’s totally stepping out of your comfort zone. Did you say the prayer we practiced? Because I totally messed up Jerry. It just left my head. I couldn’t remember a word of it. I…”
“Mary, listen to me.” His voiced was elevated.
“What? I am listening? What?” I was waving my hands in the air waiting for an answer.
“Mary. I went into the water. When my foot hit the water I couldn’t think of the prayer we had practiced. The only word that came to my mind was Acceptance.”
I opened and shut my mouth several times. I must have looked like a fish but I couldn’t speak.
After a moment, I whispered “What did you just say?”
“I said that the only word I could hear or say was Acceptance. That is no coincidence Mary. It can’t be.”
“What does it mean Jerry? What do we do now?”
“We go to lunch.” He turned back to Courtney and kissed her cheek. “Come on baby girl. Daddy’s hungry.”
I had to move quickly to keep up with him. His stride is much longer than mine. We were silent the rest of the way back to the hotel. I didn’t know what to think. Obviously something had happened.
We arrived back at the hotel and went straight to our room. I stayed busy changing Courtney and making sure we had enough supplies packed for the afternoon. I had not looked at the schedule so I had no idea what would happen next. All I knew was that we were now late for lunch.
In the elevator on the way down, I asked Jerry what he thought Acceptance meant.
“I don’t know Mar. Let’s just keep it to ourselves for now OK. Let’s just see what else happens.”
“OK. After lunch I want to call Jonathan. He will be with Mom and Dad this weekend and I want to check in and see how things are. He’ll want to know what’s happening. He prayed so hard Jerry. I need to prepare him for Courtney coming home the same way she left.”
He nodded his head. The elevator arrived at the dining room and Jerry pushed Courtney through the doors and we were immediately enveloped with the smell of fresh baked bread. My stomach grumbled again. The questions would wait. It was time for comfort food.
After lunch I headed to the phone booth in the lower level of the hotel. Jerry took Courtney back up to the room. She had fallen asleep during lunch and Jerry was more than happy to take a break form all the people.
I dialed my parents and was happy to hear the sound of my Mom’s voice.
“Hi Mom. How’s my boy?”
“Hi sweetheart. Jonathan is outside with your Dad. How are you doing? How is Courtney? Any news?”
“An amazing thing happened today Mom but it’s too long a story and I only have a few minutes. Can I talk to Jonathan?”
“Sure. I’ll call him in.”
Then I heard my favorite 10 year olds voice, “HI Mom!”
“Hey buddy. How are you doing? Are you behaving for Grandma and Grandpa?”
“Yeah. Grandpa and I are playing chess on the deck. We get to out for dinner. I’m going to get a cheeseburger I think. What did you eat for dinner?”
“Well we had fish last night.”
“Yuck. So Mom, did you go into the water? Did Jesus heal Courtney, Mom? Did she talk? Did Courtney say “Mama” yet? Mom…Mom are you there?”
“Yea buddy I’m here.” I took a deep breath and continued. “Courtney went into the water and it was so cold she gave out a huge yell. She was so good. But you know what God decided? He decided that she was perfect just as she is. So when she came out of the water, she didn’t walk or talk. She was just the same as when she went in. I just wanted…”
“NO! NO! NO! You said we had to believe if we wanted God to make a miracle for Courtney to be able to walk and talk. You said we had to pray hard. I did Mom! I did! God didn’t do what He promised. NO! NO! NO!”
“Jonathan? Jonathan? Hello? Hello? Mom?” I began to panic. He was so angry. He was so disappointed. My heart pounded and my hands began to sweat. I could feel the panic rise.
“Daddy. What happened? Where’s J-man? What’s going on?”
“He’s OK sweetheart. He’s just very upset right now and he ran to his room and slammed the door. I’m going to go talk to him. Here’s your Mom.”
“Mary?” My mother sounded so calm. Too calm. I began to cry, terrified that my son would never believe in God again. “Listen to me Mary. He will be fine. Your Dad and I will talk to him. You concentrate on Courtney. You be with her and we will take care of everything here.”
“Mom. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry. We should come home. He needs us home. Tell him I love him. Tell him it will be Ok. God loves him. Tell him his Daddy and I love him. Mom, I’m so sorry.”
“Mary Beth listen to me. You are not coming home. God is in control of this. Do you understand me? Our Blessed Lady is with you and she will make it all OK. She always does. Do you hear me young lady? You need to trust now more than ever before that there is a reason for all of this. Now, go love you daughter and hug your husband. Your Daddy and I will take care of everything here. I love you. I love you so much. Be strong and have faith, my girl.”
“I love you too Mom. I love you so. PLEASE help him understand. PLEASE!”
“Have faith and trust like never before. God will not let you down. Talk to you later this week. I love you.” and she hung up.
I bent over in the booth and wept. My son would never believe in God again. What the hell was I supposed to do now. I just wanted to get home as fast as I could and hold my son. In trying to save one child, I had lost the other.
I started to scream in my head. I can’t do this anymore. I just can’t God. You have to help me figure this out. How am I supposed to explain this to him? GIVE ME THE WORDS!! I will not accept this! You hear me! He has already been through so much. Now this. No! I will NOT accept this! You had better fix it and do it now! I trusted you and this is what happens? Fix it!
I wiped my eyes and nose on my sleeve like a third grader. I had to get back to Jerry. He needed to know what was going on. How the hell was I going to tell him that his son had lost faith in God.
Who thought coming here would be a good idea?
I made my way upstairs skipping the elevator in favor of some alone time in the stairwell. I needed to get myself together before I told Jerry what was going on back home.
I let myself in the room and smiled at Miss Courtney who was sound asleep on the little cot. She was all curled up with her favorite cloth doll in her arms.
At least someone in this family’s at peace.
I went into the bathroom and blew my nose and threw some cold water on my face. After a few deep breaths I went back into the room and sat on the bed next to Jerry. He was reading the latest Tom Clancy novel and hadn’t even moved when I came in.
“Hey” I said.
“Hmm.” he replied.
“I called home. I talked to Jonathan.”
He put down his book and looked at me. “What’s up? What happened? Why are your eyes red?”
I took a deep breath and told him what had happened on the phone call. I didn’t have any tears left.
“So how do you want to handle this? Should we call home later to try to talk to Jonathan again.”
“God, I wish we could go home. First we have to take charity to come, then we both hear the same word while in the baths, which means nothing to either one of us. Now our son is having an emotional breakdown and will probably never believe in God again. Yep, it’s time to go home.” He got up and began to pace the room.
I really couldn’t disagree with him. I wanted to go home too. This was too hard. I was so tired of all the ups and downs.
I was silent as he walked back and forth. Finally, I shared with him what my Mom had said. “We have to trust more now than ever that God is working on our behalf. Maybe something better is coming? Maybe we just have to be patient Jer. This can’t be everything. It just can’t be.”
He was staring out the window. “I want to go home Mar. We did what we came to do. Courtney went into the water. God chose not to grant us a miracle. Let’s just go home.”
Copyright 2011 – Mary E. Lenaburg
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