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.
|Happy, Happy smiles with me, Blanche and her friend after hearing the news…|
Chapter 16 ~ The Bishop’s Bar Tab
That evening I felt as light as a feather. During dinner I told Blanche everything that had happened at Adoration including my fabulous description of the seminarians famous diving for Jesus move. That got the table laughing. I was feeling like a huge weight had been lifted off of me. I was done feeling sorry for myself. I had no desire to wallow in self-pity and waste one more second of my life.
My daughter was alive. Today, right now she was alive and she was very, very happy all the time.
My marriage was intact and there was so much love there. I could not imagine doing this without Jerry. Not for one minute.
My son would be OK. I wasn’t sure how, but I was at peace with waiting on God to show me what I should do next.
God had asked that I accept and I was tired of being angry ALL the time. I had laid it all down. Now that I had done that, there was no way in hell I was going to pick it up again.
Jerry wanted to take Courtney back to the room. He was not one for socializing with large groups of people that he did not know. There was Tom Clancy waiting after all. I had no desire to remain cooped up in that little hotel room. I needed to walk. I felt revitalized and I wanted to take the opportunity to see some of the town. I asked Blanche if she wanted to join me. Maybe we could find a little cafe and enjoy a cappuccino. She said yes and we agreed to meet in the lobby 20 minutes.
I helped Jerry get Miss Court settled. She was so happy, laughing and smiling all the time. As I was getting her in her jammies, I realized she had not had a seizure since the airport.
“Jerry, have you seen her have a seizure since we arrived in Lourdes?”
He paused for a minute. “Huh, I haven’t. Two days without a seizure. Way to go Court.” He picked her up like a princess and swung her around. She was giggling once more.
OK God…that’s not bad. No seizures in Lourdes…what else you got?
I know, I know, I should never tempt fate. I grabbed my jacket and headed down to the lobby. I saw that Blanche had arrived before me and was chatting with Fr. Mike, one of the priests traveling with our group. He turned and smiled. “Hey Mary. Why don’t you and Blanche join me as I go across the street to the Irish bar and pay the Bishops’s bar tab.”
Now I had not spent much time…OK any time in a Bishop’s presence before this trip except when they were giving me a sacrament. So to say I was a little surprised by this statement would be an understatement.
“Bar tab? Seriously? The Bishop has a bar tab? Isn’t that against some Commandment?” I chuckled.
“We’re Catholic, not Baptist, Mary. The Bishop enjoys a nice Cabernet from time to time.” He was laughing. “Come on, let’s head over then we can take a stroll through the town.”
OK. I looked at Blanche and she nodded her head in agreement. “It will be fun. We will meet one of the other Dames of Malta over there. You’ll like her. She’s a hoot.”
She looped her arm in mine and we followed Fr. Mike to the Irish bar. I was headed to a bar to pay the Bishop’s bar tab. No Dorothy, you are not in Kansas anymore…
Once there we sat down at a little table in the bar. Fr. Mike asked “OK what would everyone like to drink? It’s on the Bishop.” He waggled his eye brows up and down.
I usually didn’t drink alcohol so I asked for a cappuccino and they both stared at me. “What? I don’t really drink.”
Fr. Mike shook his head and said this would not do. He ordered me a glass of champagne with chambord in it. When the waiter brought the drinks there was a perfect little raspberry floating in mine.
“You’ll love it. It’s sweet with a little kick. It’s quite delicious.” Blanche assured me.
As we settled in to chat while sipping the most decadent drink I had ever had, we were joined by another Dame who was a friend of Blanche’s. She ordered a glass of wine then asked me how I was enjoying the trip. Before I could answer, Blanche jumped in.
“Mary tell them what happened when you and Courtney went in the water. You will not believe this one guys. It’s just so awesome.” Turning to me she smiled, “Go ahead tell them.” Then she sat back and waited.
My hands started to shake and I took a LARGE sip of my drink. Then I told the story of what happened to Courtney in the water, what I heard, what Jerry heard, what happened at Adoration yesterday and so on. Before I knew it 45 minutes had passed. The three of them were staring at me. Blanche was dabbing her eyes and blowing her nose. The other woman had tears streaming down her face. I looked over at Fr. Mike and he was beaming from ear to ear.
I felt so self consious. I needed another drink.
“So,” he asked. “How old is Courtney?”
“She’s seven, Father.”
“When is she receiving First Communion?”
“Well, Father. She’s not. There is no way to catechize her. She’s blind, she doesn’t speak. How would I teach her about the sacrament?”
“Teach her? Mary, don’t you think she knows exactly what’s going on here? Where she is and who is with her?”
“Well I do. But I’m her mother. That doesn’t mean she should receive First Communion.”
“Do you or your husband have an objection to her receiving First Communion?”
My mouth was dry and my palms sweaty. I had no idea where this was going.
“Well no Father, we don’t. As a matter of fact, next Sunday is Mother’s Day and if Courtney had been a typical child she would be receiving her First Communion at out parish with all the other second graders.”
His smile grew. I didn’t think that was possible but it just took over his face.
“Do you have an objection to her receiving First Communion here in Lourdes?”
I looked at Blanche who was openly crying now as was her friend. My heart was racing and I didn’t want to say the wrong thing. I felt like I was on a roller coaster and I didn’t know when the next upside down twist was coming.
“Um. No Father. That would be a pretty awesome. I don’t know what to say.”
“Here’s what we’re going to do. I am going to pay the tab then we will walk down to the Polish bar where the Bishop is right now meeting with some other Pilgrims. I will talk to him and tell him your story. If he agrees, then I think Miss Courtney will be receiving her First Communion in Lourdes with Our Lady right next to her. What do you think?”
Good plan? Good plan? It was a freaking miraculous plan! Good plan? Holy Cow…this cannot be happening…I never saw this coming…
“I, umm I think that would be OK.” I stumbled through my acceptance. “Are you sure?”
Fr. Mike was beaming. “Yep. Let’s go talk to the Bishop.”
My knees were knocking. So many thoughts flying through my head.
Really Lord? Really? Is the miracle you promised? Courtney will be able to do what every other seven year old could do…receive her First Communion. This was something normal, something we never thought we would get to experience with her. I knew you would do something BIG Mama Mary but this is beyond anything I thought would happen. For my Courtney to have the comfort and strength of receiving Our Lord…I…I…I…
Fr. Mike paid the bar tab and we headed out to see the Bishop. This was NOT the miracle I had in mind…but who was I to question the Almighty.
We headed out to see what the kind Bishop would decide. I couldn’t stop smiling.
Blanche and I took a seat across form the Polish Bar at the German Bar. She had a stout, I had coffee. Her friend had run into some other Dames and Knights she knew and was chatting up a storm in the middle of the little street.
“I just can’t believe this is happening.” I said sipping my liquid gold.
“I thin it’s just amazing. I hope it all works and Courtney is able to receive the Eucharist. We will just have to trust that the Blessed Mother has it all under control.” assured Blanche.
Fr. Mike was back in about 10 minutes. Walking along with him was Bishop Curlin.
Oh crud. He’s going to say no and just wants to let me down gently in person.
“Mary, this is Bishop Curlin from the Charlotte Diocease. Your Grace, this is Mary Lenaburg, Courtney’s mother.”
Bishop Curlin offered his hand and shook mine warmly. “Fr. Mike has been telling me about what happened with your daughter, you and your husband when you went into the baths. I would say the Lord is trying to tell you something.”
“I agree. I just wish I understood what it meant.” I laughed.
“That will be revealed in God’s time. As for now I think it would be a wonderful thing to have Courtney receive her First Communion. I will need you to call your home parish and get permission from your Pastor. You are in a different diocese than me and I just want to make sure it’s OK with your Pastor. So, come find me when that is done and we will go from there. Good night.”
My stomach flipped and I said goodnight to them both. I turned around and almost knocked over one of the Dames. It was a member of our team. She took one look at my face and asked what was so exciting. I couldn’t resist. I just blurted it all out.
“So after I call and get permission tomorrow from my Pastor, Bishop Curlin will give Courtney her First Communion. Isn’t that amazing?”
The Dame was smiling brightly and she hugged me. “That is wonderful Mary. So wonderful.”
Then it dawned on me. “Oh no, what am I going to do for a dress! I didn’t pack anything for her.”
“It’s OK Mary. You can shop for a dress in the morning. Don’t worry.” she laughed.
“Oh…OK. OK. I need to tell Jerry. I need to let him know what’s happening. Yeah, I need to go and tell him. He’s not going to believe this. Thanks for your help.” I said as I turned and started back to the hotel.
Blanche called after me and I turned and yelled back that I had to go tell Jerry and Court what was happening. I would be back in a few minutes. I ran back to the hotel about a block away. I ran up the three flights of stairs and burst into our room.
“You will not believe what has happened. Your just not going to believe it Jerry.”my hands were flying in the air.
Jerry took one look at me and asked if I had been drinking.
“I just had a glass of champagne like two hours ago. Listen to me. Courtney is going to receive her First Communion. Can you believe it? I mean I have to call Fr. G tomorrow to make sure it’s OK with him, but if he says yea, which I can’t believe he won’t, she can receive while here in Lourdes. Do you understand what this means. She will be like everyone else. I never thought I would get to buy a white dress and veil and watch my daughter become a bride of Christ, but I do. I just can’t believe it. Can you?” I turned to him making sure he understood the gravity of what I was saying.
“Are you drunk?”
“Jerry I am not drunk. I am excited. Have you listened to a word I have said?”
I walked over to Courtney’s cot and I knelt down beside her. She was awake, humming softly. “Guess what my sweet girl? Guess what? You are going to receive Jesus. You are going to make your First Communion. I never thought it would happen Courtney. What do you think of that?”
She rolled toward me and smiled. Then she started to laugh, a deep strong belly laugh that made my heart smile. She just laughed and laughed. I looked at Jerry and said “Maybe this is the miracle we’re supposed to have Jerry. Look at her. She knows. She hasn’t had a seizure since she’s been here. She laughs and smiles all the time. She’s eaten better than she has in a long time. She knows where she is and that God is with her. I’m telling you this is our miracle.”
“OK Mar. Tell me exactly what happened.”
So I went over the events of the last two hours while Miss Courtney continued to smile and laugh from time to time.
“So if Fr. G agrees then Bishop Curlin will give Courtney Communion.”
“Amazing. I never saw that happening.”
“I know right. Kathryn told me that there is a little dress shop in town where I could get her something to wear. We can do that tomorrow.”
“Mar, we only have about $300 in the bank. We can’t afford it. Can’t she wear the dress we brought with us. The one she wore to Mass on Sunday?”
“But Jerry it’s her First Communion. She has to have a white dress.”
“Mary, we can’t afford it. She can wear the dress we brought her. Her shoes are white.”
“Shoes! She only has her Reebok high tops. What are we going to do about shoes?”
Jerry was shaking his head. “Mar, you’re not listening.”
“I am going back down to see Blanche. She’s waiting for me. We can talk about it tomorrow.” I kissed my girl who was still smiling and told how much I loved her and then headed back out.
By the time I got back to the bar, the word was out that Miss Courtney would be receiving her First Communion. So many of our fellow travelers came by to congratulate me and send their prayers and blessings to Courtney.
Blanche and I decided to go to the Grotto to say thank you to Our Lady. We walked and talked about life and family and how God’s generosity can never be outdone. We sat on the same stone bench where I had sat for Mass two days ago and had seen the mountain weep. Now here I was giving thanks for the last twenty four hours. I had laid it all down and everything was changing.
All I that had to happen now was for Fr. G to say yes. He wouldn’t tell Courtney no. Would he?
I closed my eyes and as Blanche and I prayed the Rosary together as I imagined my girl in a white dress and veil receiving Jesus for the first time. A tear slipped down my cheek. One of my secret dreams was coming true…God would talk to Father…he would make it right.
Courtney was going to receive Our Lord…God was showing up BIG TIME. I wonder what else He would do for my girl.
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Copyright 2011 ~ Mary E. Lenaburg
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