Monday after work I made a beeline to the church to light a candle. I normally light one after Mass every Sunday, but this past Sunday I was at Mama and Daddy's Baptist church. No candles.
I like the Catholic tradition of lighting prayer candles - the idea of a continuous flame pointing up to God, carrying my prayers to him 24/7, even when I get busy or distracted or fall asleep. And by lighting a candle, I recruit the whole congregation to pray with me for whatever is in my heart - sorrow, worry, or gratitude. It seems the older I get, the more there is to pray about. Perhaps I'm just finally learning to turn to God for everything.
It would have been easy to just skip this week...but on Monday morning I learned that a friend's son had been rushed to the hospital over the weekend with necrotizing fasciitis - flesh-eating bacteria. He was in really bad shape. Then I learned that another friend's cancer had returned.
There were some up moments, too...lots of birthdays. I couldn't be with my mother on hers, but I'm grateful I got to spend time with her on Sunday, and see her again on Thanksgiving. There was my friend Howard's, which made me think about and give thanks for those friendships from the plant that I've been able to hang on to for so long.
My thoughts about those friendships must have sent out some kind of wavelength - I heard from two more of those guys this week. Larry sent me Halloween photos of his granddaughter Sophie. I do hear from him pretty often. But the other one, Cliff, I haven't heard from in years. He sent me pictures of his family, their new house, and his 'mid-life crisis' car - a 2007 blue Mustang. Cliff is one of the funniest guys I've ever known - deadpan delivery and perfect timing.
Another friend celebrated her 81st birthday this week...Jean was my 8th grade English teacher. I learned so much from her about writing that year - she took the time to offer real critiques and comments - encouragement rather than discouragement. I still have the papers! She goes to church with my mom, and that's how we were able to become friends after all this time. Life is funny! I got to see her this past Sunday, too.
One of my high school friends turned 50 - he is living my dream - after years of working at a chemical plant, he went back to college and got a double degree in English and History, and now he's a graduate student working in a Creative Writing program. He totally surprised everyone! I don't begrudge him - I'm glad someone is able to fulfill my dream! And it inspires me that I'm not too old to keep trying.
I had some more sad news last night, though. One of my high school friends lost their mom this week. I feel so bad for him, and even more grateful and fortunate that I still have mine with me.
I haven't heard any more about my friend with cancer - but every day my other friend continually reported good news about his son. He finally made it out of intensive care before this weekend.
Last night I went shopping with Kendall and we shared spinach quesadillas at a Mexican food restaurant - good relaxed time together that we don't have very often anymore, just the two of us. And this morning I woke to a beautiful autumn day - brilliant blue sky and tons of sunshine. I'm sure this coming week will have its share of worry and sorrow, but today I'm optimistic.
I'll still be lighting a candle tomorrow.