I had a really wonderful time with loved ones yesterday at Cheryl’s surprise 50th birthday party. Cheryl is the mother of my best friend, so I view her as my mother by extension. She is extremely caring, loyal, honest and strong. I am blessed to have her in my life and be counted as her loved one. I am also blessed to have such a large extended family, blood relations notwithstanding. At the party, I was one of the few people who were not related to Cheryl by either blood or marriage. I viewed myself as a kind of ambassador, representing my family, and it got me thinking about why it becomes so difficult to mix different groups of friends; I believe it is because different people allow one to show different sides of him or herself. We love myriads of people. Hopefully, most of us are surrounded by people who bring out the best in us. But now and again, we develop toxic relationships and love the people who hurt us and bring out the worst in us. Some people see that as being weak, and as being taken advantage of. I prefer to see it as being brave. To give love unconditionally time and time again no matter how many bruises it inflicts is a beautiful and precious gift that is clearly deserving of being shared with everyone.
Never stop loving.
“Oh Jesus, I’ve fallen. I don’t mind the rain if I meet my Maker; I’ll meet my Maker clean. But Jesus, the truth is I struggle so hard to believe I’ll meet my Maker. I need my Maker.”
– “Get Me Right,” Dashboard Confessional
“And can you kneel before the King and say, ‘I’m clean, I’m clean’?”
– “White Blank Page,” Mumford & Sons
PROMPT: “He was pretty religious once.”
PIECE: Marilyn was slowly walking from the church. Her high heels were clicking against the concrete and the sound echoed out into the almost deserted parking lot. She paused at the curb, fumbling with her tiny purse, looking for her pack of cigarettes and lighter. Will didn’t like her smoking in the car, so she figured she’d feed the craving before climbing inside. It was an act of consideration and wisely played, because Will would most likely be incredibly cantankerous – he had waited for Saturday evening mass to end in his car in the dry summer heat without air conditioning. Marilyn had tried to use the lack of comfort and cool air as an incentive for Will to join her inside the church, aside from the fact that doing so could save his immortal soul and provide his life with some kind of moral center. Her pleas had fallen on deaf ears; Will was not to be shaken from his lack of faith. She lit up and took a long drag, exhaling the smoke towards the moving sky. It looked like a severe, sudden summer storm was on its way.
“Will still sitting in the car, huh?” a familiar voice asked. Marilyn turned to see her best friend, Hannah. Hannah was smiling, sunglasses blocking her eyes.
“Yeah,” Marilyn answered. “I’ve tried everything, dude. Maybe it’s not that important. Maybe I should stop pushing my values on him.” She flicked the ashes from the end of the cigarette, and watched them flutter to the pavement.
“Maybe; you know your relationship better than anyone else, aside from Will, of course.” Hannah paused. “He’s lucky to have you, you know?”
Marilyn shrugged. “He keeps saying that, and I keep trying to tell him that it works both ways. Sometimes, I think he gets upset because he works down at the masonry center and he thinks it’s nothing glamorous and that I think the same.” She turned to face Hannah fully. “Do you think I’m pretentious? Do I give off that vibe?”
Hannah shook her head. “Not at all; and Will’s fears and doubts are Will’s fears and doubts. It’s his baggage that he needs to work through.”
Again, Marilyn only shrugged. “I know, but I just want to help.” Hannah was silent beside her, out of clichéd things to say she’d learned from sitcoms with female target audiences. Marilyn turned to face the parking lot, seeming to look out beyond it all and into the past. “He was pretty religious once,” Marilyn said.
“Really; Will was religious?”
Nodding, Marilyn said, “Yeah. He would go to mass every week, confession every two weeks. Every night before bed, he’d hit his knees and pray. He had a Bible beside his bed and he’d try to read a little bit of it every day.”
“What happened?” Hannah asked.
“I’m not entirely sure,” Marilyn admitted. “It’s weird. He won’t go to church, but he brings me every Sunday and he doesn’t go home. He waits in the car. What’s that about?”
“Maybe he’s waiting for a reason to go in,” Hannah offered.