Monday of Holy Week has arrived.
Yesterday (Sunday) morning, after waking up and preparing breakfast, my cell phone rang. The identity on the phone was recognized and I was nervous that my friend Mary was calling to share early morning bad news. Well, the cell phone being used was Mary's, but the voice on the other end of the line wasn't Mary's. It was her sister, obviously upset, to share the sad news that my friend Mary had not arisen that morning, but was found dead in her bed.
Mary and I were musicians who served the parishioners at Saint Marcelline in Schaumburg, Illinois at the 9:00 A.M. Sunday Mass for years during the 1990's. When I left the parish in 1999, Mary and I continued to be good friends, sharing wonderful dinners twice per year to mark Christmas and to mark our birthdays, which were just days apart; she was a year younger.
Each Christmas, Mary would bake hundreds of her signature rum cakes to share with family and friends. Folks, I am not a big sweets fan, but this rum cake was the best dessert I ever ate! I shared these rum cakes at WLP and would freeze at least one each Christmas at home, so that I could savor the taste some time in the Spring. Well, one of Mary's rum cakes is in my freezer right now.
My friends, my heart is aching in grief for this woman who was, purely and simply, my friend.
She moved back to her home in Columbus, Ohio, several months ago. We had planned to share our next dinner in Indianapolis, a half-way point between here and Columbus. I guess I will have to wait for the grand reunion at the heavenly banquet.
So, my plea today is for prayers. For my friend Mary. For her Mom, Rita. For her siblings, especially Kathi. Could I be so bold as to ask you to pause right now, close your eyes, and ask God to grant peace to Mary and comfort to her family and to me?
Yesterday morning at Mass, I sat there in that strange and numb state of grief. At the Preparation of the Gifts, we sang Aaron Thompson's Tree of Life. I couldn't hold it in and I cried for my friend. No one really noticed and if perhaps they did, they may have thought that I was moved by the music. No word was spoken directly to me, no word offering solace or comfort by anyone. But somehow the liturgy itself did so. Made me think that perhaps each Sunday, there are many more like me, many suffering that inward kind of suffering, just waiting and wanting for the comfort that comes only from a community of faith gathered to listen to God's word and to break bread.
Mary, my dear friend, may the choirs of angels come to welcome you and lead you to the holy city, the new and eternal Jerusalem.
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.