Marsha and I at the Collseum in Rome
I took a sabbatical from my blog, not because I didn’t have anything to say, but what I did have to say was better left unsaid. But today was different, today, I needed to pay respect to my dear friend, Marsha, who I found out passed away a few months ago.
I met Marsha while I was living in Nashville, a time that I’ve come to refer as my working sabbatical from life. I don’t talk about my time in Nashville much. It was a dark time. I was working through a broken heart, an unintentional professional life and shattered dreams. I had come to Nashville to face the demons of my past, to exorcise them, and to start a new. Marsha became my new.
Marsha’s husband had recently died when we met in RCIA class at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Nashville’s West End district. We shared broken hearts for losing “the one,” hers to death, mine to another woman, but through it all we found hope and comfort in the majesty and beauty of the Church. Every Thursday for seven months, from September to Easter Sunday, we shared in our learning of the Church, and at the Easter Vigil in 2005, we both entered into communion with the Church.
A week later, Pope John Paul II died, prompting a shared intrigue for experiencing up close and personal, The Vatican, Saint Peter’s and yes, the new Pope.
Eight months and a move to DC later, Marsha and I met in Rome and enjoyed nine days touring Rome, Venice and Florence, and stood side-by-side in a crowd of pushy nuns to get a front row view of Pope Benedict. Ahhh…that was an angelic moment.
She loved wine almost more than I did and in Italy we shared countless bottles in our hotel room, and at various bistros across each city we visited. She shipped a case home and reserved one bottle for the following Easter to celebrate our one year anniversary into the Church. Unfortunately, flight delays and cancellations out of Dulles forced me to cancel my trip to Nashville that year. I didn’t know it at the time, but that cancellation not only prevented me from sharing a fantastic bottle of wine with a dear friend, it would prevent me from seeing her one last time.
Every Lenten and Easter season since 2005, I think of Marsha. Last March as the Church was voting on a new Pope, the Lord spoke to me and said, “write Marsha.” Marsha was on Facebook and had e-mail, but He was clear, He said, to write. And so on a Wednesday night in early March, I pulled out a note card that I had created using my many photographs and took pen to paper and wrote Marsha a letter. I said to myself, “when was the last time you wrote a letter?” I couldn’t remember anything more than a sentence or two written inside a card.
Several weeks later, I opened my mailbox to find a letter from Marsha. The first line she wrote, “I was thrilled to get your letter.” She brought me up to date on all the happening’s in her life–grandchildren, boyfriends, break-ups and her plans for Easter. I thought, I need to go to Nashville next Easter. We need to finally have that bottle of wine. I missed her.
Next Easter is almost here, but Marsha is not. I expect she’s having a much better bottle of wine in Heaven with God, Ed and PJP II, laughing while many of us, me included, have given up wine for Lent.
But come Easter Day, it’s all celebration. I’ll finally open the bottle of Chianti that I bought on that Italy trip which now sits in the recess of my cabinets for a “special day” and toast my dear friend Marsha. There’s nothing more special than knowing that nine years after we entered the Church together, she’s Home.