February 1st, 2011
It was Spring 2006 and I was eight months pregnant with Booger. I’d signed up for a weekly discussion group through my church and showed up for the first meeting a little nervous and a lot unsure. I knew I wanted to connect with people in my community, and church seemed a good a place as any to start, but my faith had eroded over the years. I didn’t know what to believe or if I could believe again. Still, I was on a path to have Booger baptized, and I was going to give church another chance.
That meeting night, I took my place at the discussion leader’s dining room table, surrounded by an unlikely group of maybe believers. One girl was about my age — mid-30s — and never once looked up from her folded hands. Another man and woman, married no doubt, sat in front of me. Both Italian from the looks of them, and of course it turned out they owned the best meatball joint in town. An older woman, probably 70 or so, wiped her red eyes on my left. She’d just lost her husband of longtime years.
Our hosts Patty and Frank called the group to order, and there started my road to faith once again.
Over the next six weeks, I came to know my group in unlikely ways. The Italian couple took my hands and walked me out of the house each Wednesday night, ensuring I didn’t slip and fall on my engorged belly. The silent woman my age opened up eventually and I was able to navigate her iceberg sadness and understand her closed hands better. Jackie, the widow, shared her pain of aloneness with us and time and again, we listened as tears squeezed from her red eyes. We all shared our journeys and our stuff. We all cared. We all heard the other.
But Patty and Frank. They who brought the meeting to order every week, and they who nodded as I shared my crisis of faith. They who showered their own belief on me without judgment or apology. I came to respect and look up to them in the deepest way it was possible for me to do. Patti told us how God talked to her, and how she listened. He told her to have a third child and so she did. He told her to give her faith to others and so she did that, too.
One night I asked how she knew it was God who talked to her.
“I hear it in my heart. Just like words.”
There was no embarrassment when she answered me. Just conviction and it is so.
The group ended about a week before I gave birth. I was glad to bring her into the world where I was much more convinced that people were good and that God spoke to hearts.
Two days ago, Patty died. I’d been receiving updates from her husband via an online prayer group Patty began soon after our little group stopped meeting. On her final day, she was surrounded by family, the way it should be.
I take enormous comfort knowing that Patty is where God is.
She left her mark on me and I’m forever grateful.
For today’s PROMPTuesday, please recollect someone who entered your life for a brief time, but left an indelible mark.
If you would, post your submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.