I didn't know Jackie well in high school.On our first day at Sacred Heart Academy,we were divided into four classes alphabetically by last name.She was in the first group and I was in the third,the Ls through Rs.Oddly,the friends we made that year seem to be the ones that stuck.In my Senior Year ,my mother took a few friends up to the Catskills for the week of Easter break.It was April and we climbed Hunter mountain in the snow.These pals last names were: Landi,Lally,Moody and Rice.I remember something about Jackie though with great fondness .She always had a gorgeous smile for me and an open ,friendly face.
I am so glad that I took the time to go to my 50th reunion a few years back.I sat next to Jackie and we were girls again.There is something special about the people we knew when we were young and carefree.Those days of uniforms, heavy book loads and the world laid out before us.We were idealistic to the max ,worked hard and got a terrific education that I only now appreciate.The school is still there.My grammar school is not.The back entrance to Sacred Heart is no longer a cement slab but a garden and the young ladies who ushered us around that reunion day were poised and lovely.
Scared Heart for me was a refuge from the chaos of my home life.The girls were mostly kind and the laughs were loud and frequent.I recall how clean the school was and the how the candles flickered in the hallways by saint's statues.Starting the day with prayer now strikes me as a great gift.As I type, I think that the Sacred Heart is supposed to be just that:a place of comfort and respite.I didn't think of it in those spiritual terms then,it was just the name of the school.
Jackie and I spent some time the other day talking about our lives and the mysteries that have given us pause.She told me of the time a few years back, when a health issue haunted her and she cried at night in her bed.Then,Oh Lord, then ,she felt a hand on her shoulder telling her all will be well.Peace came and the tears turned to joy.All was well.She doesn't know who or what it was but she was sure it was from the other side because there was no one in the house who could have done it.I told her I understood because early in my marriage,I had a miscarriage and as they wheeled me on a gurney to surgery,I was terrified.In silence, I asked that a hand hold mine and I felt it.And was comforted.
Connecting in this deep way was an unexpected gift and knowing how successful Jackie has been in her professional and personal life gives me joy. I see your face as I type Jackie ,that smile and I am grateful.