When Sara was buried, wrapped around her hands were two rosaries. One of those rosaries was pink and cost exactly $5.60. I would know because I bought that rosary for Sara when I was in Bolivia.
Since I was in a country known for its Catholic history, I assumed that I’d find a multitude of rosaries on sale. But that wasn’t the case where I was shopping. I asked every vender that sold jewelry if they had rosaries for sale. Most said no. One said yes. But she had a hard time finding it. Finally, after searching for fifteen minutes, she returned holding that pink rosary.
I was nervous about showing it to Jessica. She was raised Catholic, and so she knew far more about rosaries than I did. I assumed she’d look at it and say, “We can’t send that to Sara.”
Because it was pink! And sort of felt cheap.
When I showed it to Jessica, I prefaced the reveal with, “This was all I could find, baby. And I promise I looked…”
As soon as she saw it, Jessica said, “It’s perfect. Sara will love it.”
“You think so?”
“Yes. It’s the symbolism that counts. What the rosary looks like doesn’t matter. It will mean so much to Sara.”
When I mailed the rosary, I wrote in the card, “I hope when you hold onto this rosary that you will be reminded of who is holding on to you… hold onto this and know that you are loved…”
Jessica was right. It meant so much to Sara…
This is the email I received from her a week later…
Matthew!That’s literally all I kept exclaiming when I opened your card and the rosary. Just, “Matthew!” Because I was so incredulous that you would know just the thing that would tear my heart apart and put it back together. I know that sounds dramatic, but seriously, friend, that was the kindest, most ME gift you could have given me.I held it to my heart and I prayed a decade for you, one for Jess, one for Elias, one for Adeline and one for Mariela. The perfect five people to fill the decades of that rosary I am so privileged to hold. I will pray that rosary so often, Matthew, and the first decade will always be for your family… and the fact that you wrote it could be something I could hold onto?I do that. When I am in the kind of pain where I want to put my head against the wall I hold onto a rosary, even when I don’t have the strength to pray it. Because it reminds me that He’s here even when I can’t feel anything but the situation I’m in.Seriously. I’m blown away by you. Thank you.
Holding a rosary brought Sara hope. It reminded her that she wasn’t alone. It was something small yet tangible that helped her believe, that reminded her to have faith.
Five or six days ago, Jessica left a copy of Sara’s funeral bulletin on the couch next to me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve picked that bulletin up, held it, looked at it, and thought about putting it away. But I can’t. Not yet. Whenever I see it or hold it, I think about Sara. But then I think about what Sara stood for, what she believed, who she believed in…
Anytime I see a photo of Sara or I see her name mentioned on Twitter or Facebook, my thoughts always end up turning toward God.
Holding onto Sara’s story is like holding a rosary… every tangible memory of my friend Sara is a reminder to believe, a reminder to love, and a reminder that I’m never alone…