I searched the dark hallway that connected the room I shared with my cousin to my aunt's room. I hated that hallway. Even knowing that on the other side, there was a room full of stuffed animals and grown-up treasures didn't distract me from the fact that it was a creepy space that cased the creepy bathroom with the creepy rusted toilet, sink, tub and pipes that made a creepy hiss every time I ventured past it.
Sure the fear was irrational, and even knowing it was probably rooted in some ridiculous horror story my cousin Lizz spurted off the top of her head, I still couldn't shake it.
Regardless of my fear, or perhaps because of it, my eyes were drawn to the dark space between those rooms that night.
I'm not even sure why I was still awake, but then it seemed like my 5-year-old body never wanted to sleep. Every night something called me out of bed. A walk through the dark but familiar house, a quick dip in grandma's sugar cup, a late-night cry without the judgement of my entire extended family.
"You shouldn't cry; You have to be strong for your mother."
Sometimes I'd just sit in the big scratchy chair on the back porch and look up at my mom's mug printed in an actual beer mug next to her twin hanging on the wall.
Sometimes I'd stare at Jesus, and his heart practically beating off the painting on the opposite wall -- Catholics.
But that night I was too sad to get out of bed, to sneak sugar, to look at my mom ... or Jesus. That night all I could do was stare into the darkness.
Who knew how long it would be before I saw my mom again. At that point I couldn't even remember the last time I saw her. And right down the hall, through that black hole of horror, was my cousin's mother, somebody's mother, somebody who might feel sorry enough to comfort a crying child with a warm hug -- even if that child wasn't hers. Or someone who would be really pissed for being bothered at 0 dark thirty. Not that it mattered with that creepy hall between us.
That's probably when I started crying, or maybe I had been crying all along --who knows. It seemed like whenever I wasn't pretending to be smart, cunning, adorable and well-adjusted, I was hiding somewhere crying.
Anyway, I was at that point where my tears had blurred my vision to nothing but a swirl of colors, when I realized in the dark of that creepy hall, I probably shouldn't be seeing colors. And as curiosity stilled my stuttering sobs, I realized that I wasn't alone.
Of course, I knew I wasn't alone before, Lizz was snoring in the bunk bed above me (ok, ok, little miss perfect straight A-making, softball champion, piano playing Lizz didn't snore) but I also knew that she didn't emit a hazy blue glow (she wasn't that perfect).
Slowly my vision began to clear, and as it did I noticed the light wasn't in the hall but upon me. And looking up I saw the Virgin Mary in her full glory. Looking down on me just like she looked down at Jesus in every friggin rosary book I'd ever seen. She was that Mary. Blue veil, pale skin, serene face. The Mary. It wasn't like she was alive -- breathing, smiling, talking or anything. She was just there, the image, like someone was projecting her image right from a Sunday missalette. And she just looked at me and after awhile I just fell to sleep.
I know this isn't the first time I've mentioned my miraculous visit from Mary. It's one of those things, that even with it's lack of divine purpose or magic, has never been something I doubted.
Why am I writing about it now? Well, it's probably close to 5 am and I can't sleep. I'm so sad I can't sleep. I haven't been able to really sleep in months.
And as much as I pray and search for guidance, I can't seem to shake the overwhelming sense that I am losing at life.
I really have no idea where God is leading me. I feel like there are signs and they are everywhere, but I just can't tell the signs from everything else.
I can't seem to move with any purpose outside of survival.
I guess I should be glad that I want to survive. That I want to fight tooth and nail to make it through this dark time.
But more than anything, I want that warm glow that quieted my fear, my sadness and that damned hissing bathroom long enough to bring my 5-year-old self a little sleep and a lot of peace.
I want to be able to accept that even though I have no idea what's going to happen, the weight of the world is not on my shoulders and I will be alright.
I want to say 10 Hail Marys and call it a night ... Catholics.
But instead I was attracted to the warm glow of my desktop. Instead images from that night flooded my mind. Maybe she's trying to remind me that she's always with me -- that He's always with me.
Maybe they're trying to tell me that her warm glow is never more than a prayer away.
Maybe no one's trying to tell me anything and I just have to let this pass.
Whatever the maybe, the warm glow of this computer is starting to feel a little cold, my lids are starting to feel a little droopy and a Catholic little voice inside of me is telling me there's a rosary in my closet with my name on it.
No advice or biblical words of wisdom for this one ... well, let me get my Google on ...
John 16:23-24 (NKJV)
23 "And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.
24 Until now you have asked nothing in My name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
... Lord, I'm asking ...