The priest wore white socks and a robe
by Ann Miller
The Priest wore white socks and a robe
I have thought about this a thousand, no more than a million times over and over in my head and cannot believe it really happened. Usually, these stories were saved for the patients I cared for, or read about in a book but this time I was the lead character. The plot is not unusual, an extended family getting ready for a Christmas celebration, grandma and grandpa visiting an aunt, uncle, couple of nieces driving in from out of town that day. I would even like to describe this in third person and if I could I would, I'd love to, but I also realize, now after five years, this has occurred to many others only a different climax. I personally wish I was still reading this in a story. It would help me feel something different than I feel now, but that would not be real and would leave me a different person than I am today. The person I am is a result of situations, choices, opportunities, emotions and people who I have entrusted my life with. Friends, relatives who understand and those who make a conscious decision to not understand because it is too painful, or too unimaginable.
I try to tell the story beginning at the end because I do not want to shock anyone or to think I am trying to build up something that is worth waiting for. My father died while we were baking an apple pie together standing at the kitchen counter December 2005. There are many descriptions that could be used to explain my father and those who know him are laughing at this moment. He was a loud voice that could not be missed, a man who did not want to be the center of attention, non the less he usually was. He had dreams that lasted him a lifetime and hopes that lead him on. He fell over, flat onto his back, lifeless as could be, a darn sudden cardiac arrest that left him no time to say goodbye. As a nurse who has worked in more places than a resume could hold is shocked, yes that is me. Of all the God Damn things to happen. I was mad for a long time, pissed that I had to be there. Why did my sister get to stay home 125 miles away and miss this. She missed seeing the priest in his white socks and a robe.
Thank goodness my husband recognizes a scream of utter shock and was immediately there at my side. He dialed the phone while I started CPR and hoped the paramedics would arrive IMMEDIATELY! Well almost, as quick as possible because an officer happened to be driving by the house, stopped and brought the automatic defibrillator, summoned help AGAIN via his radio. More arrived at the house, took a look at me and just shook their heads. By now, the grandchildren have figured out what was happening, my brother-in-law was within 20 miles of the house and it is just too much to comprehend.
The story does not have a happy ending and I have been thinking of the past 5 years something good needs to come from this. Something good for our family, positive connections, memorable moments that underline our worth and show our faith and belief in a higher power who is watching out for us, planning life as we know it and leading us through whatever sorrow, whatever life brings. I went to church alone, hopped into the car in the garage, no one even knew I had left. Our church is within a five minute drive from the house, no services on December 26th, everyone is relaxing at home after a couple of hectic days, eating meals to keep them from going hungry, opening gifts, words of welcome and sharing laughter with friends and family.
This is where the white socks and robe occur. Fr. Dave lived in the rectory adjacent to the church and since the church was locked, I happened to knock on his side door which had a walkway between the church and rectory. Guess what he was wearing, yes, the white socks and robe, red non the less. Well Ann, welcome what is going on?? Through tears and sobbing I begin to explain and he immediately sits down beside me on the bench located in the breezeway and starts the Our Father. I still do not know what to think of that whole day, I just shake my head and am careful who hears this story. I know everyone who hears this thinks of me differently. How, I am not sure. Some have pity, some think how lucky I was, some want to turn away, others just don't have or understand any emotion about it. It was a moment that I learned to open up to loved ones, don't hide. Share your feelings and let your mind and body absorb what has happened. It is a process that will evolve as long as it needs to, no magic timeframe, no magic formula. The healing will take as long as it needs to take and you will feel pain as long as you will need you to feel pain. It will teach you many things about yourself, remind you how strong your mind and body are, help you focus energies onto important healing activities and make you a better person.