I’d just turned 20 and a few weeks later I lost my mother to undiagnosed heart disease. Being an only child and having lost my father after long illness four years earlier, I felt hopeless and alone. My life meant nothing without them. One Sunday morning, I turned on television and heard a woman sing “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child.” It was more than I could bear. Aunts and uncles could not console me. My heart was broken, and it seemed our dog Lucci was all that was left of my family.
When we lost dad, faith and my mother’s support helped me learn to face our lives without him. We were faithful worshipers in life and deed. But, after losing mom, I rarely spoke to God. I was so angry and overwhelmed with grief.
I had been taking college courses but I’d stopped attending classes when I lost my mom. I lived for our little dog Lucci. I didn’t realize it then, but God heard me and had me. I applied for a very good job and was interviewed and hired on the spot with no experience. Just up the street from company that hired me was a beautiful Catholic church called St. Patrick’s. Since I didn’t have much of an appetite, I spent lunch hours sitting on a bench outside the church watching happy people who seemed so connected to life rush by. On a rainy day, I decided to walk into St. Patrick’s, not to pray, but to see what it was like inside. I remember clearly how hard I’d struggled to hold back tears that day. I often cried silently in the ladies room where no one ever heard me. As I walked through the doors of St. Patrick’s, a lump came into my throat and I sobbed from deep within.
There were only a few worshipers there, and I went unnoticed in the last row of the beautiful church. I was so very tired. When I was able to regain outward control of my grief, I felt God’s presence. I knelt and prayed for my parents and asked for strength. Though I am not Catholic, I folded a dollar in the slot to pay for a votive candle and prayed as I lit the flame in memory of my parents.
Each subsequent lunch was spent in St. Patrick’s, and with each day God helped me to face life with courage as my parents would have wanted.
During the twenty years that have passed, God has blessed my life. I have a wonderful husband and we have two wonderful children who’ve inherited my mother’s sense of justice and my father’s sense of humor that always makes me laugh.
I can clearly see now how lovingly God led me back to life. The testimony in “Footprints,” describes my relationship with God during the year after losing my mother: I did not walk into St. Patrick’s, I was carried.