Yesterday’s gone. All the yesterdays, blown away like feathers in the wind. All gone except for memory, sweet ones tenderly tucked away, the worst hidden in the mind’s deepest crevices. Regrets.
Before heading to the BMW, I stopped at the Gloucester Post Office to mail two packages: one to friends in the DC area, another to Ashley, Jud’s nurse at MGH on Lunder 10. She wrote over Christmas. It felt good to be remembered. She spoke of Jud and said, “I was blessed to have taken care of him,” as were we to have shared those weeks with Ashley, loving nurse dispensing God’s tender mercy.
Sweet memories left me unprepared for one from the depths, Jud saying, “Don’t go.” Not out loud but up from one of those deep crevices came a memory of an early evening night on Lunder 10. I, masked and gloved, Jud, weak and vulnerable, asking me to stay. While I can’t recall what I said, I remember that I went and headed home to Gloucester or the apartment on the North End. Where isn’t as important as that I went. I can think of a lot of excuses, even reasons like the fact that we weren’t allowed to stay overnight unless we stayed awake all night. I couldn’t.
Like a band of stuck music , the words played over and over and over: “Don’t go.” Suddenly I saw myself as one of the disciples, asleep, while Jesus prayed and agonized in Gethsemane. He woke them with a sober question,”Could you not keep watch one hour?””(Mark 14:37)And that left me sobbing in my small Prius-gethsemane. Before I could move on, I needed to take my empty bowl, fill it with my sins, sorrows and sobs and offer it to Jesus. All the while, Jud seemed to wrap me in understanding love. Often I gave him cause to remind me,”Don’t waste time rethinking decisions. Get up and go on.” But sometimes some decisions are worth a second thought. Ponder. And I did and do.
After returning home, I settled into Jud’s favorite chair and continued reading The Name of God Is Mercy by Pope Francis. My simple cry, “Lord, have mercy.” And for no earthly reason, God’s love and mercy began washing me in words by Pope Francis, which is no small matter for a Baptist preacher’s kid.
“The message of Jesus is mercy…it is the Lord’s strongest message…the Lord never tires of forgiving: never! Go to Jesus: he likes to hear about these thing. He forgets, he has a special knack for forgetting… It is we who tire of asking him for forgiveness… Mercy is God’s identity card.”
Sleep came last night with one Advil and a large dose of Mercy. Pondering brought a loving reminder that there likely will come other times when I will hear, “Don’t go” not from Jud but others who may need me, or you, “to keep watch one hour.”
May the God of Mercy grant grace to stay.
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