Shower of Roses
The Little Flower has gotten me through my life's worst crises.
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I didn't blame them for saying I wasn't ready to leave. Angry and despondent, I hadn't exactly been an ideal patient. One morning in group therapy, I had slammed down my writing journal and my copy of "What Happy People Know."
"What does it take? What the hell does it take to feel better?" I yelled. "Why are you guys getting better and I’m not?" I brought my hands to my face and started to bawl. I felt completely frustrated, tired of trying every cognitive-behavioral technique I knew, practicing relaxation exercises, composing gratitude lists, and praying with Scripture every morning. Nothing seemed to work.
"God, could you please cut me some slack?" I shouted to the heavens.
On my last day of treatment I said farewell to the nurses, who told me that the program helps 95 percent of patients. I suppose I was in the other 5 percent. Wondering where I had gone wrong, I ripped off my hospital badge and climbed into my car. I wept the whole way home. I also issued God an ultimatum: "I can’t do it anymore. I can’t go on feeling this way. I’ve been doing my part. I’m working with a doctor. I’m retraining my thoughts. I’m exercising. I’m trying to be grateful. I’m praying. But listen, something just isn’t working, and unless you give me a sign that I’m supposed to hang on, I’m out of here." I meant business. I had stored over twenty bottles' worth of old prescription drugs in the garage in case I got desperate.
My shoulders slumped over, I used my last reserve of energy to pick up the mail from the box outside my house. Shuffling through the envelopes, I saw a letter from a woman named Rose whom I had met in Buffalo, N.Y. almost a year before, when I had given a speech to an audience of over 500 Catholics. I ripped open the envelope to find a card with an image of St. Therese surrounded by roses and the words "I will spend my heaven in doing good upon earth." Inside the card I found my name and an announcement that a novena would be offered for my intention by Carmelite nuns (St. Therese's order), as requested by Rose.
A Sign from St. Therese
My eyes were already swollen with tears when I saw the medal of St. Therese that Rose had enclosed. It matched the one I had been carrying in my pocket ever since the day my depression set in. On the front of the medal was a profile of St. Therese; on the back, above a crucifix and bouquet of roses, was the inscription “After my death I will let fall a shower of roses.”