Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Mass Adventures and Mournful Tears

Well, it finally happened. I made it Mass! Can you hear the angelic choir singing? I can. Oh wait, that was the choir at the High Mass I attended Sunday night. lol. I must admit that I so desperately wanted my first Mass back (from illness) to be a Latin Mass, specifically on All Saints' Day since it's one of my favorite feast days. For reasons I've already sort-of explained, it didn't happen on All Saints' Day but I did go Sunday. That itself was an adventure.

My poor mama got food poisoning earlier in the day and I wanted to cancel our scheduled trips to and from the local Latin Mass but she wouldn't let me. Even an hour before we had to leave, she was still feeling poorly. I was prepared to attend Mass closer to home (anything to get her to Mass; she won't go if I don't take her with me) but she said that she knew how much I wanted to attend a Latin Mass so she sacrificed her comfort for me.

We arrived at the church a few minutes before the Mass began and I got to meet a Twitter friend in person, which was lovely. I made it through the Mass despite the use of incense. Sure, I got a bit lightheaded towards the end but nothing I can't handle in small doses. The only thing I wasn't happy with was that I still can't kneel for long periods of time because I'm still in recovery mode. Still, that is something that I'll be working on and God knows what I can and can't do with where I am, physically.

We left the parish almost immediately after the Mass was over since the taxi had arrived early and they won't wait more than 5 minutes after your assigned time. On the way back home, we had a close encounter with a driver who decided they wanted to merge into our lane... while we were occupying it. I'm so grateful to our guardian angels and our fast thinking/acting taxi driver. Before we got home, a high-speed chase flew by us with about a good half dozen (if not more) police cars following the car. That was a first for this L.A. native; I'd only seen them on TV before Sunday. Needless to say, my poor mother arrived home shaking and very anxious. I think she was still nervous yesterday morning when I drove her to work. I'm pretty sure she won't go to the Sunday night Latin Mass with me until we have Daylight Saving Time again. lol. See? I told you it was an adventure.

I was still on a Mass high (first time receiving the Eucharist in almost two months!) on Monday when I received the terrible news that one of the kindest people I've ever met had passed away. As I mentioned a few weeks ago,, I was able to secure free exam proctoring at my CINO college alma mater. Being a distance education student at a university out of state, we have to get our exams proctored. Most proctors charge $20+ (average is about $40) per exam (or per hour) so I reached out to Ms. Michele Lewis (that was her name) to ask if either my alma mater had proctoring for former students or if she knew of someone who didn't charge an arm and a leg. She was "taking the semester off" for the Fall semester but she arranged it so that I could take my exams on campus free of charge (instead of charging $30 per exam), not only for the Fall semester but the entire school year, until my tentative graduation date in early May.

I went through my usual routine yesterday morning. I made breakfast, praying the Little Office before leaving, battled morning rush hour traffic, and went through my flashcards before taking my exam. Since I was to take my exam in Ms. Lewis' office, I decided to ask how she was doing. Immediately, I knew I was in for some surprising news but I wasn't expecting the worst. I was told "take your exam first and then we'll talk." After taking the exam, I was getting ready to leave when my current proctor asked me to follow her back into Ms. Lewis' office. She told me to sit down and then she dropped the bomb on me -- Ms. Lewis had passed away. I was shocked. I was expecting to hear that she'd left the school for another job but wasn't expecting this news. I tried to keep myself from tearing up but I couldn't hold it in. I left the office in a sort of daze and walked up the steep hill to the center of the campus where I found a bunch and try to catch my breath.

I had a few minutes to reflect on the news I'd been given before I had to come back home. I sat on the familiar bench I've used since my time as an undergrad and I teared up. I looked at the chapel on campus and at the beautiful statue of Mama Mary in front of the chapel, in the middle of the campus center. I remembered the Ms. Lewis' kindness. As an undergrad, she'd helped secure me extra time (which I never needed) and a quiet room to do my exams in when my anxiety was so bad that I couldn't concentrate in classrooms. When I had issues with the music professor who made me cry in her classroom (some of you may remember how poorly I was treated at my alma mater), she helped me sort things out. Before I graduated, she sat down with me and gave me post-graduation advice about what careers options that I still remember and keep in mind 4.5 years later. At graduation, she arranged it so that I could sit close to my family and to an exit in case I wanted to leave early (again, when my anxiety was so bad that feeling trapped in crowded places set off panic attacks). Her last act of kindness was getting me these exams proctored for free.

I'm still tear up when I think that she's gone but I'm grateful for everything she did. She was beloved by student, staff, and alumni for a good reason. I remember her being a kind, generous, and gentle soul who went above and beyond to help students succeed. Not just with me; fellow alumni friends have remarked about what a lovely woman she was. I remember what Fr. M said about the souls in purgatory at Sunday's Mass, about how important it is to pray for them. I will be sure to have a Mass said for her as well as pray for her whenever she comes to mind. Rest in peace, Ms. Michele Lewis. Thank you for being a rose in a bramble of thorns.

I didn't mean for this post to end on such a downer so I'll say this: while it's sad that she has passed, at least she's not suffering. It's the same consolation I have about my father's death -- it hurts that they're no longer here but they left behind beautiful memories that I'll always cherish; that have made me a better person. :)

Anyway, I need to go pick up my mom from work and then we're going to go vote so that's it for now. :)

I hope y'all are having a lovely week thus far... or, as sane as possible. ;)

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

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