One stroke of a brush…

Sunday January 18th began with excitement. Spending the weekend in Boston, I took advantage of attending mass at Saint Ignatius, on the campus of Boston College. IMG_0558Thirsting for a moment with Jesuits, I entered the church about 45 minutes early. I was the only person in the church, and was delighted to have this quiet space all to myself. As I knelt down, I prayed for the following grace:” God, help me through this Colloquy with Mary. No crying babies, no talking parishioners, this is the quiet space I have been seeking. IMG_0559God, help me speak with Mary about her feelings as a parent when Jesus leaves home and heads to the Jordan River to begin his public ministry. “I felt emptiness that morning, knowing my two older kids will be remaining in Boston, one for school, the other for a job. Once again our family dynamics change after a long Christmas break together.  I have been saying good-bye to my two older kids for about 8 years now, as they went back to boarding school, college and now the workforce. The sadness of saying goodbye remains. As I longed to learn how Mary may have felt when Jesus left, I imagined it was very similar to my feelings. With each step our children take into the unknown, we pray for their safety and hope God guides them along. An interesting twist occurred midway through my conversation with Mary. I was asked to think of the first memorable moment that pops into my head with each of my four kids. Quickly, the memories of Maggie as an infant sitting on the village green with her parents on one of New England’s most beautiful islands. We are absorbed in every little smile and movement Maggie made. It is vivid to me, that moment is clear, the blue stroller filled with our needs for the day. On to number two. Our only son Patrick.  What quickly came to the forefront were our countless hours playing street hockey together.  He had to always be the goalie. We would put our make shift net at the end of the driveway. Patrick would put his hockey helmet on, his hockey glove on his right hand to hold his stick, and his baseball glove on the left. He would wear my old hockey elbow pads as his leg protection. As much as I wanted to score on him, I would shoot into his body so he could make the save. He always asked me if he could try playing goalie on the ice, and selfishly I always said no. It was at this point of my prayer that sadness took place, an emotional moment. I was challenged to have that initial memory of my next two kids. I dug deep, I forced it, yet I failed to find that memory. It was at this point that asked for guidance, I asked why is it so hard to find a memory for my younger two kids? My conversation with Mary began to drift away, people entered the church, the babies started to cry. Mary, I will be back with you to help sort this out.

The three-hour drive home Sunday night was slow, as ice and rain fell upon the Mass Pike. The kids were in and out of naps, my wife rested as well. I turned the music off to see if I could locate Mary. I was eager to continue our conversation from earlier in the day at mass.  No luck.  We finally arriving at home, all tired and a bit cranky. Checking my phone, I received a text from our dear friend Deb. She was letting us know her husband and our long time friend Mike was killed in a car accident hours earlier. I can’t begin to express the confusion, anger and sadness that came upon me. I asked God to guide me, and left it at that.  Mike owned a successful commercial and residential paint company. He was also our son Patrick’s youth hockey coach and mentor for many years. He was such a talented painter; he would find himself at the homes of Gene Shalit, James Taylor and Gov. Deval Patrick leaving behind on their walls his eye for colors. I can’t put myself in the same category as those three, but last week, Mike and his crew put the finishing touches on my office at work. As only Mike could do, prior to starting my job, he let me know the current wall colors were out dated and I need a lot of help. I recall looking at “coach” as I called him, and said “I trust your judgment, just get it done your way”. “Shine dog” or  “Dog” as he called me,” I have one more request”. I responded, “What now coach.”?  Coach laughed “That desk you have looks like shit, and as the owner of a company, you need a more professional look”.  As usual, I smiled at him and said “no new desk for me, use your touch and make it meet your standards”. “I’m leaving for two days coach, my desk is yours”. When I returned to work, I had forgotten about my desk. Upon entering my office, I once again smiled with delight. My desk was stunning. The message left by Mike read “Dog, I hope you like it”.  Well Mike, I did not have the chance to tell you, I love it. You will forever be a part of my day. As you know Mike, I think a lot at my desk, and make many decisions about family, life and work. Many times I would call you and ask of your advice from this very desk.  I will miss those calls and damn you, you’re the first one to make me cry while on this spiritual journey. You made me happy in many ways coach, but through colors, you always made me smile. And that game you let Patrick play goalie without me knowing….thank you, you made another Shine smile.

Coach at his best!
Coach at his best!
Boys in Coaches hotel room, Love the tub!
Boys in Coaches hotel room, Love the tub!

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