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She prays.

Slowly, her veined hand moves across his sunken chest. No longer is there a heartbeat. He is gone. Unfathomable peace suffuses his shriveled remains. Within that sacred moment she rests—fulfilled are her vows of almost seven years, pronounced that festive afternoon in their parish church where they had met at daily Mass, their snowy hair enhancing their flushed faces. Afterwards, merriment enlivened their white-tent reception filled with families and friends. It was all about love with its inherent sacrifices.

She prays.

Of little consequence, now, were his temper tantrums, rigid judgments, blaming—behaviors exacerbated by his Parkinson’s Dementia, three years into the marriage. Of little consequence was his frequent need in the middle of the night to pack his things in a pillowcase and go home. Of little consequence was his emptying the contents of the kitchen drawers into the refrigerator, of flooding the bathroom floor. Of little consequence was his violent reaction to placement in a skilled nursing facility, despite painstaking preparations. Now, he lives in eternal life and that’s all that matters.

She prays. Her eyes glisten.

Salted by keen suffering, she lives the mandate of Jesus Christ to be “the salt of the earth.”

Her name is Mary.

 

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The outer door opens a crack, an NB scuffed shoe wedges it open further, a right shoulder leans into it even further. A right hand reaches around for the wheeled cart behind him and thrusts it inside the doctor’s waiting room. It is the hospital courier making his morning rounds.

 

Patients fret behind magazines or I Phones. A toddler strews plastic blocks on the floor, then retrieves them. The drama deepens. No matter that the courier’s withered left arm flops around like flotsam on roiling waves; nor that his gait lists wildly to the left. He is on a mission to deliver the mail and pickup more generated by the clerical staff. A distant smile lightens his Ichabod Crane face and illumines his significant impairments. This is a simple man of deep joy.

 

He carries the message well to those who understand it. Then he disappears into the inner office. He will return at the end of the day

 

Four years, in all weathers, this lanky courier has pulled his wheeled cart to doctors’ offices and made his deliveries. Before then, he had worked in the hospital’s mailroom, according to the receptionist.

 

Such are the truly great ones among us! We do well to pay attention.

 

His name is Jim.

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