*I wrote this on my flight home and just now got around to posting it*
So I went back to Kansas for Easter. I do this every year.
When I was in college at St. Mary in Leavenworth, KS, Sister Anne Callahan was still working with the college music department. My sophomore year, she asked if I would be willing to do a duet with one of the sisters for their Good Friday service. I said yes.
That was a hard start to what would become an annual date. It was April 13, 2001. Yes, a Friday the 13th. We didn't have classes (good Catholic college) and I sang with Sister Anita at the 2pm service. I had to work that evening at the sandwich shop. I was getting ready for work when Misty called me. Her step-sister, my friend, Breanna had shot herself. I remember her telling me, and the total shock that I was in. I remember going in the hallway and grabbing Lacey. I hugged her, told her Bre was dead, and started crying. I think I scared a friend or two. They hadn't ever seen me break down like that.
I calmed myself down enough to go to work and just told everyone there that I was having a really bad day. I think J even worked that night (that's where we met, at the sandwich shop).
I kept singing with Sister Anita every year for Good Friday. We always sing the same songs. They never said anything about the tattoo I showed up with on my ankle. Or the piercings, or the changing hair styles. Just how lovely my voice was. Nuns make the best audience.
I stayed in the area after college and kept going back for good friday. I would see the Sisters I knew and plenty I didn't know. I loved it. Every year, after the service, I get a great big hug from Sister Dorothy. She was in my home town when I was a little kid. She's like a great-aunt. I adore this woman. She had sponsored my sister and me for the scholarships that helped us attend the school she was now groundskeeper of.
In 2006, it was another Friday the 13th. I was at work for a half-day when my mom called to tell me that Grandma Shirley, her step-mother, had passed away. Yes, Grandma had been sick, but you know that doesn't make it much easier. I managed to hold it together, and still went to sing. That was the hardest time I'd had at Good Friday service. Afterwards, Sister Dorothy gave me the usual hug, and I broke down. I was safe with her, and couldn't hold it in anymore. She scooted me into the back room and I told her all about it.
Fortunately, I haven't had any bad Good Fridays since then. I've brought my parents, my mother-in-law, and my husband to services. I've seen old teachers and even an old friend. About 3 years ago, Ryan (who was 2 classes behind me) joined us and turned it into a trio. I must admit, we sound pretty damn amazing together.
I'm writing this on my flight back to El Paso. This was my 10th year singing for the Nuns. I think I get more Sisters stopping me after the service than I ever did. This year, one stopped me to tell me that my husband had such a gorgeous tie on.
I will keep doing these trips as long as I can. I don't know what I will do when I lose Sister Anne or Sister Anita. I don't know if I would be able to keep doing these Easter trips without them. They have become a big part of my life, even if I only see them once a year. These women never judge me. They never have a bad thing to say. They don't seem to care that I no longer go up for communion. They don't care that I have another tattoo and more piercings. They just care that I care enough to come sing for them every year. That makes it all worth it - to see their smiles and receive their hugs.
This year was the first since moving away from KS that J was able to come with me. I have lots of friends back there still, but I made this trip about family. We stayed with his folks, as usual. We had Easter with his family. I made time for us to see Justin, my adopted little brother, and his fiancee. We made time to go visit our old Boy Scout troop. We had lunch with Sister Anne. Those people are all Family.
I will be headed back to KS this fall for Justin's wedding. On that trip, I will make time to visit all the friends. So if you missed me this time, don't worry, I'll be back. Can't get rid of me that easily.