As I entered the sacred space it looked exactly the same to me – sadly this time it was different. I made my way down the long side aisle to the place where we sat together in prayer only 11 short months ago. The last time I had been in this cavernous, majestic place of worship she had been with me. Together we adored our Lord and then gazed upon this beautiful image of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Who could ever have imagined that the next time I would visit, she would be in heaven.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York City was our destination on Saturday afternoon. After a day of shopping, lunching and seeing the famous tree, it was the place that my beloved college roommates brought me, in an effort to infuse some much-needed light into my soul. They knew that the last time I was in this historic English Gothic church, I was celebrating my dear mother’s 75th birthday with Liz, Tania, Susie and Mom on a well planned and much-anticipated Girls weekend to the Big Apple. Mom experienced the time of her life with her favorite girls – and we enjoyed every moment which included an opera at the famous Lincoln Center, shopping, fabulous dinners and Mass at St. Pat’s. It was a time to remember with a woman who made us all better just by being in her presence.
December 2016 in NYC, was an opportunity for me to enjoy the company of my long-time college roommates who have nicknamed our weekend “Fabulous Women.” Our older daughters have been invited and my Grace and her roommate Tay have joined us from Fairfield University. My wonderful mother always reminded me and my sister “Women need their girlfriends and sisters, it is so important. Keep those relationships strong in your life. The bond between women is so special and you will need each other through good times and tough times, so cherish the special women God gives you.” (I know my Mom was thinking of her sisters Barbara and Susie and long-time nursing school best friend Marie when giving this advice.) My sister and I took her words seriously and have developed an unbreakable bond with each other and our beloved sister-in-law Tania.
As usual, we’ve learned that Mom is correct! I am been blessed with so many incredible women in my life – family members and friends. These relationships are each special in their own way. When I am down, these women lift me up and help me to remember who I am and who I am called to be. In return, I try to be a friend who they can laugh with, but also cry with. I try to be the kind of friend that my incredible Mom was. She is my inspiration – she is my role model.
Joanie knew what was needed in this world for peace and lasting joy. We have to have each other’s backs in good times and rough times. Renee, Jenn and Anne did that for me this weekend. Despite my lack of enthusiasm, they still pushed for a gathering and “met me in my need.” They loved me, helped me to laugh a little and just listened when I needed to talk. That is the sign of a true friend…that is what Joanie was all about.
As I gaze back at the lights of NYC on my way home to Boston tonight, I am still longingly thinking about Mom’s amazing 75th birthday weekend here. It was extraordinary. I give thanks for the gift of the beautiful women who were gathered together to celebrate the life of a precious soul who made such an enormous difference in this world. Her light and love affected so many people and changed their lives for the better. None of us knew at the time that it would be her last birthday on this earth. It was a fitting celebration though for someone who wanted nothing more than to be with those she loved. We gave her that gift and so I guess there can be no regrets – only gratitude for the chance to spend one last magical, memorable weekend with our shining star, our bright light – the one who draws us home to rest in the love of her heart forever. God bless you Mom, you are deeply missed by all your adoring girls. xoxoxoxo