Listening To Those Crying Out, Speaking From The Heart, Helps Heal
The second installment ended in dramatic fashion. A call from Maria and Ramon sounded desperate. They were facing Cicily all ready to drive to Queens to see her twin sister, Nina, who was hospitalized. Rising from her languid state, Cicily, energized from her shocked grief condition, began to mobilize to see Nina. That plan in the moment was unrealistic on many fronts. An eight-hour drive to Queens might be futile; family was in quarantine, Nina was hospitalized with a no-visitor rule in place, and lastly, no hotel/motel provisions were viable. What to do? Calls to clergy and physician brought the family to an impasse. I offered a home visit and awaited their response. I got ready, if needed.
Two hours later, I received a call from Marla. I barely understood her. She was crying. I could detect yelling in the background. Cicily, I came to understand, was in an agitated state. She’d grabbed the car keys. Ramon had blocked the driveway and received a slap across his face in return. He was restraining Cicily and was crying and yelling. Marla gave me directions to their home and said to come. She hung up. I immediately drove to their home. This circumstance was highly irregular. What was I going to face? How might I handle an agitated Cicily? Who was I to invade her home? As I approached the home, I gave myself several minutes to meditate and to calm myself. I knocked on the door.
I could hear crying and yelling emanating from within. I met their daughter who opened the door. She’s been crying. “Mama and papa are expecting you. I’m sorry. It’s kind of loud and crazy here.” I was lead into the kitchen. What a scene. Maria and Ramon were sitting on either side of an angry woman. They looked up at me. “Thank you for coming. We’ve got mama to finally sit. She won’t calm down. We told her that a man was coming to assist.” Cicily kept shaking her head stating, “We’ve got to go, we’ve got to go now! Mister, can you drive me to see Nina? She’s my sister.”
May I call you Cicily, ma’am? “Who are you? Are you here to drive me to see Nina? If you are, I’m ready, let’s go now.” I’m here because Maria and Ramon asked me to visit. I’m sorry to say I’m not here to drive you to see Nina. I’m here to help your family find a way to face this terrible situation. I see how upset you are.
“You’re damn straight I’m upset.” Ramon and Maria appeared stunned by Cicily’s perhaps unconventional tone. Folks, do you have anything to drink that Cicily and I might enjoy together? “Mama, do you want some tea or coffee?” “No, give me some tequila.” They looked at me. Do you suppose I can join you, Cicily?
“I don’t know who you are. Get us some Tequila, Ramon.” “OK Mama.” Maria placed her hand upon Cicily’s hand. “Mama, this is the man we told you about.” “I see he’s got a mask on. How come you’re not wearing it?” I’d rather not, unless you think I need protection from you. Are you ill with the virus, Cicily? “Hell, no. I’m fit as a house. Why won’t anyone drive me to see Nina? Are you a priest?” No, Cicily. I’m not. “Why are you here?” “Because Maria and Ramon spoke with me about their love for you. They were sad because you weren’t functioning well. They wanted to help you in your time of grief. I don’t imagine to know how you’re feeling after hearing news of your sister’s hospitalization. How do you manage to deal with that news from 400 miles away? What a difficult situation for you.
Ramon apologized for the momentary interruption. “Here’s your tequila, Mama. Here’s yours, sir.” Thank you. Please call me Marshall. “I haven’t had a belt in years. I used to have it as a nightcap. I don’t know why I stopped.” I raised my glass. To everyone’s health. We took a generous sip. I haven’t had tequila in years. Great idea, Cicily. You know, sometimes a good belt hits the spot. Looks like I came in after a rough scene for you Cicily. I heard you want to see Nina. Can’t say I blame you. Put in the same position, I’d be ready to go, too. However, I really don’t know how you feel. I’m not certain, your family here knows how you feel either.
“How do I feel? How do I feel?” Cicily looked long and hard at her family and lastly to me. “God, how do you think I feel? I can’t even explain and if you don’t know, you don’t know me.” “Mama, I know you feel bad. We all feel bad, too. We know you want to see Auntie Nina. She’s your twin sister. I think this man … really all of us have little idea of how Nina is doing. We know she’s sick. We (Maria breaks down crying) see you withdrawing into yourself, not eating and sleeping much. We don’t want you to get sick.” (Marla cries and is unable to speak so she gestures with her hands and mouth ). “Mama … “ Ramon speaks, “I love you. I already lost my own mother. You are my mama and have been since her passing. You’ve been strong for me. Now I want to be strong for you. Our children love their grandma. They cry themselves to sleep not knowing if you are getting sick.” (Ramon, too, breaks down into sobs.)
Cicily, if I may speak. (Cicily gestures for me to continue). Listening to your family speak from their heart, I see you surrounded by love. I hear a family helpless to convince you not to drive to see Nina. The practical yet difficult position they take doesn’t meet your approval. I told you earlier, if! was in your place, I’d be out the door, in the car, and down the road. Hopefully, someone who loves me might stop me. Without a concrete plan, going to Queens now is unsafe. Too many predictable and unpredictable obstacles lie in your path. People are sadly passing away without the comfort of loved ones. The grief one feels must be enormous. The Mount Everest of emotions … please regroup with your family. Feel your feelings. They are real and authentic. Be healthy … and pray and hope for better days ahead, when you will see Nina. For now she can’t have visitors. Keep in close contact with your Queens family. This family here will help. For now, this may be your safest, healthiest, and most practical response. Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.