This is the seventh in a series written by Malcolm Marler and Mary Bea Sullivan, husband and wife, about their journey as Mary, an author, prepares to go to Virginia Theological Seminary. Malcolm is a director of pastoral care at a hospital in Alabama.
She Said… by Mary Bea Sullivan
Packing blissfully slowed to a crawl as I waded through a lifetime of memories. The pace first tempered while clearing out the filing cabinet when I opened the file labeled, “Brendan Patrick.” Ever since he was born nearly 20 years ago, I have placed notes, pictures, or particularly cute comments in this folder.
Laughing and crying, I lost myself in the essence of BRENDAN. I pulled out a home-made card–blue construction paper tied together with a yellow ribbon. On the cover was an interesting rendition of me, drawn by 4-year old Brendan while attending pre-school in Tokyo. I caressed the cover remembering the day Brendan proudly ran up to hand it to me as I came dashing through the door, late for the Mother’s Day Tea.
Kiki had been very sick that day and I didn’t think I could attend the tea. I had frantically called one friend, sitter, neighbor after another to see if they could stay just a few hours with Kiki. I don’t remember who made it possible for me to go, but I send thanks to that generous soul because squishing myself into that pre-school sized chair and sipping green tea with my little man is one of the highlights of my 48 years.
Opening the card I laughed out loud as I read,
My mom, she is a good mom. She has nice curly blonde hair-like golden and other colors mixed up, a color I don’t know how to make. She likes to eat…French toast! Her favorite color is pink. She’s a good car driver and bike driver because she never crashes into the other cars and we never fall over either! Even when she was driving with her American driver’s license she was a good driver.
I love my mommy’s smiles. Happy Mother’s Day. I love you very much. Love, Brendan”
And so it went–for days I gave myself permission to take breaks from shredding old tax returns, carting family members and dogs to appointments, to savor the memories. Kiki’s folder was equally heartwarming. Malcolm and I read our love letters together–a sweet reminder of the surprising gift of finding one another. Most precious were handwritten notes from those who are no longer here.
In the last 11 years I have thrice moved unorganized boxes of pictures. As I tackled this project, it was no chore. The time was finally right. I made five piles…one for Brendan, one for Kiki, one for their dad, one for Malcolm and me, and one for “trash.” I purchased a purple album for Kiki and a blue one for Brendan and created books that they can one day share with their husbands, wives, children. Memories of their beginning… A love letter from me to them.
There is a lot of dog hair around the house right now, and the kitchen could be cleaner. I really “should” be farther along on other endeavors. But this has been healing. Besides, maybe taking time to look back–all the way back to my grandparents wedding in the 1920’s, will help give me perspective when I feel stressed out.
Some aspects of this move–particularly dealing with the sale of the house, have been very trying. If I can appreciate this moment in the spectrum of the many moment’s that comprise a life, perhaps I can lighten up a bit and trust that God is present in this experience; same as every other one.
Blessings to you this Pentecost Sunday. May you sense the Spirit dancing with your soul.