My Own Personal Jesus

My sister Sarah and I, November 1998. Arizona.

Someone I knew in college is in hospice, nearing the end of his life.  We were friendly, in the same, unusually tight knit major in a smaller Midwestern university.  Many of us had our sights set on gracing the airwaves of television or radio or of making movies. It was a special kind of place and time and even then I recognized that our group, traveling together toward adulthood and careers, was unique, our experience so entirely different from that of my psychology, business and PE major roommates. I knew each and every single fellow student in my major, we all did, from sophomores to seniors. We would see other in class in the morning, later in the master control room or television studio, renting equipment, in the edit bays in the evening and then at the bars at midnight. 

Tom was athletic and tall, kind, he had a great smile that always seemed to have a chuckle dangling from the end of it, he had a swagger.

From the pictures, I see that he has a beautiful wife and three little boys. And he's losing a battle to brain tumors and cancer that he has been fighting since 2003. 

My sister Sarah died in 2001 at the age of 24. Because she was my baby sister, I will always see her in pig tails, and she stayed pretty, she modeled,  she had the most wonderful smile that always connected to a sparkle in her eyes. She fought the demon epilepsy from first grade on, when an ambulance came to our elementary school and rushed her away. Seizures interuppted everything she ever tried to do from that day forward.

Six months before she died she told me she wouldn't live to see age 30. I feel asleep with her in her bed that night in the big city apartment in the big city life she was determined to live all by herself.  I didn't want to leave, I told her she was wrong.  

She wasn't. Now, eleven years later, I can't remember the sound of her voice.

I grew up kneeling next to my mom in church every Sunday. I can recite "Our Father" and "The Creed" - We Believe in One God - prayers, the words spill out of my lips in unison with a church full of people almost subconsciously. Since adulthood though, for reasons so many or not so much, I only attend church on Christmas Eve or when I feel the pull to the Place or the symbolism of the candles in times of need.

Any God I ever found in church, I brought in myself -- Alice Walker

When I need clarity, I pray to my Grandma Zora, she who may have subtly taught me that Alice Walker philosophy on religion,  sitting on her front porch or in her corner rocking chair overlooking the backyard, making priorities all seem so simple, You don't need much Jenny, you really don't, hardly much t'all.  Her presence tells me to relax, to laugh, to snap the dead tips off the petunias. 

When I seek direction, when I need to lead, when I need confidence, I pray to my Grandma Charlotte, beside me at the wheel of a blue Plymouth Duster, with a wand of mascara and a tube of red lipstick and a party platter of sandwiches. 

Sarah, with Weaver's Needle in the distance. 
When I need a friend, when I'm feeling weak, when I'm lost and when everything is okay too, I pray to my sister Sarah, playing beside me as child, walking beside me as an adult, on an Arizona trail.

No, I can't hear her voice, the sound of it. But I can feel her,  she's always right here with me, every second of every day.

My own personal Jesus.

So, Tom, old friend from the past, I am praying for you, for a miracle, I am praying to my Gods like Sarah, Zora and Charlotte, I am praying for those who know you still and love you,  that you be well, so you don't have to leave so soon.
Miss you, Sare