My left wrist is typically adorned with several bracelets. These are gifts from friends and I really do wear them until they break.
This week, one broke. I was sitting in the kitchen, working at my computer, and just like that the elastic broke and little lavender beads scattered across the kitchen floor. I thought about the little girl who had given me this beaded bracelet -- I have known her since she was a baby. I have slept in her home. I have eaten many meals with her at my side. We have done homework together. I stood behind her when she was confirmed. Her great-grandma was my secret friend. When her grandma was surprised with a birthday party, we were there together.
I didn't need the bracelet to help me to remember to pray for this family, but I have to admit that whenever I caught a glimpse of it on my wrist or had the occasion to move it around a bit, I gave my young friend and her very big and special family an extra thought.
I grabbed the vacuum to gather up the scattered beads before my dog could do it for me, and then sat down at my computer for a quick check of messages. A window popped open with a message from Greasy: I have sad news...
Soon Greasy and I were in a chat conversation with our sister church pastor. Don Rene had died suddenly of a brain hemorrhage. My young friend had lost her grandpa.
Don Renee was more than a grandpa. He was the patriarch of a large household of mostly women. He was an artisan, working with wood. He was the protector for his adult son, who because of threats and past affiliations cannot leave home. He was an elder in the community, building with his wife one of the first ramshackle homes on land given to war refugees. He was devoted to Monseñor Romero and a dear friend and support to our sister church pastor.
The e-chat ended. I had to go to a meeting and Pastor was on his way to the vigil for don Rene, where the people would "sing beside the body."
Of all the memories I have of time spent with don Rene, the strongest and most beautiful is the sight of him playing guitar and singing with his mariachi buddies at the surprise birthday party for don Rene's wife. Rene loved to play and loved to sing, and he did so with great gusto and a broad smile. Whenever the community gathered together for a vigil, don Rene was ready with his guitar. As I was driving off to my meeting, I could hear the voices of the people gathered in and around the ramshackle house, singing beside the body of don Rene. Surely God has given him a big bass guitar...
I am looking at my wrist. The bracelet is gone, but I can still feel it there.