Friends. Thank God for friends. Friends who show up in so many ways—cards, flowers, hugs. Friends who listen (over and over). Friends who take me to mass, to lunch, to the lake, to Nashville for three days before Jack’s birthday. Friends who pray with me at Jack’s place. Friends who pray for the dying with me every week. And, of course, Jack’s friends. His Warrior friends who honor him in every way, and have embraced his mother and family so generously.
I share today my special friend, Cathy Ciresi, who was another mother to Jack. We go way, way back. We raised our children together on Hillside—play groups with kids running wild while mothers prayed the rosary. This was a tradition passed down from Cathy’s mother, Barbara Hayes, and one that I HIGHLY recommend. Our children grew up with the rosary. Jack Shockley prayed his rosary and I believe that was no coincidence. Giants of the faith like Barbara Hayes pass along the gifts of the faith to their children, and so it goes.
I say all this as background. We all have friends that we call on for different needs. When Jack’s legal case was dismissed, his wallet and cell phone were released. Cathy was the friend I called on. She made calls and supported me going forward. She understood the trauma involved in retrieving Jack’s things. Cathy is compassionate but can be counted on to “git ‘er done.” Perfect.
The detective released his things, the day arrived. But Cathy, knowing me so well and loving me, first took me to mass at St. John’s. I was able to go to confession, and the priest offered mass for Jack and our family. When I told him of my struggles, the struggles of our family, he told me to ask my saint in heaven to pray for us. I have been doing that but it was comforting to hear it from a priest in confession.
Cathy and I stopped for lunch on the way to the City County Building. We were fortified and as prepared as possible. The traffic, the road construction, the parking, and the walk to the property room all conspired to make it known to me that only one person could have gotten me there, and Cathy did. With efficiency (not easy, with my legs) we found our way to the bowels of the building. It looked like a scene from a movie, exactly. And I began to regret eating that lunch. Cathy held me steady as we stated our business, and a very old man retrieved Jack’s things.
But this is what I mean about friendship. There was a big sign by the property room that said, “No cursing.” And Cathy distracted me by saying we would probably get kicked out. Somehow, she brought me to giggles. Then the ancient man gave us these industrial-looking black gloves to put on. Cathy’s left hand did not fit, and as she struggled to put it on, I told her that no one could accuse her of murder, because the glove did not fit. (A little OJ humor.)
The point being that I did not lose my lunch in that moment. My friend had me at one of the most terrible times for me. The ancient man gave me Jack’s wallet and phone and looked at me with the saddest eyes I have ever seen, and he gently bowed. Grace in the property room.
We took Jack’s things and stopped on the way home for refreshment. Jack took charge, and we ended up at St. Joseph’s Bar, in what used to be a Catholic church. No, my dear friends, we cannot make this up.
Cathy dropped me home. I took a blanket purchased for Nora’s baptism commemorating Pier Giorgio, wrapped Jack’s wallet and phone in it, tied it together with twine, and went to bed. They are safely at home. Someday, with the help of friends, we will be able to open these packages.
Thank you, Cathy. Thank you, dear friends. God bless and grow our love for our friends. Dearest Jack, pray for us. You know what we need most; you always have. Pray for us.