38° 34’ 16”N, 82° 47’ 54”W
There’s this roadside Catholic shrine in our rural community I’ve driven past for years and never once visited. Today I stop for a closer look. And to ask a favor. I’m not Catholic, but there’s a sign posted, “All are welcome, as Our Lady wills it,” so here I am.
Over the stone entry arch are large, black metal letters and the “F” has fallen away from the word Fatima. It is barely hanging on. It is exactly as I feel.
I exit my car and step through the entranceway, into the “Our Lady of ‘atima” outdoor, open-air shrine.
The doctors at the Cleveland Clinic have suggested it might be a good idea to get my affairs in order. Since I no longer attend church, this place seems as logical as any to open a dialogue of sorts. To ask for a delay.
I’ve read the Kübler-Ross book and know where I am in this process—the bargaining stage. I also know I’m being overly dramatic on my knees beside these statues of children to plead my case. But I don’t care.
My opening gambit in this negotiation is an offer to make amends. I declare to give back, to do my best, to right any wrongs I’ve committed. If only.
If only I can stick around a while longer.
I pray and ask for some more time. Just a little longer, please.
The statues remain silent.
I’m here for a miracle. A sign. Will I live long enough to meet the granddaughter due in five months? How about tomorrow—will I live through this night?
My prayer ends. I grasp the wrought-iron railing to pull myself up from the kneeler and jerk my hands away. The July sun has turned the metal into lava. I cry from the pain. In my hands and in my heart.
Today I didn’t witness any signs. I didn’t experience a miracle. But as I leave the outdoor, open-air shrine of “Our Lady of ‘atima,” I feel settled.
I shuffle back to my car and as I reach for the door handle; I notice a heart-shaped rock in the gravel lot at my feet.
It sits on my windowsill, beside two red glass cardinals.
This is the 16th story in the Objects as Waypoints Writing Project series.