When you are sorrowful look again in your heart,
and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.

~ Kahlil Gibran, from"The Prophet"

Saturday, December 17, 2011

angel of God

it's snowing

What a gift it was to awaken this morning to the wispy flakes falling silently from the gray skies, forming a blanket to fortify the shaky ground upon which I'm walking these days.
Erin loved snow.   Loved it.

Those of you who knew her know this about her, and those who've been stopping here from time to time most likely have come to understand it as well.

One of my most vivid memories is from late January of 2007.  Erin had been diagnosed just before Christmas 2006, had completed her first couple cycles of chemo and was feeling fabulous because the drugs were killing the cancer cells that had been making her so very sick.  This was pre-tumor removal surgery time and we often walked at night in the frigid air, both of us needing the fresh, germ-free slap the crisp outdoors provided as we each adjusted to the respective confinements the treatment protocol forced upon our once carefree lives. The darkness provided a comforting veil for Erin, hiding a 16-year-old's self-conscious insecurity about the emergence of the shiny head that had been covered by thick locks since the day she was born.

On this particular evening as we ran into the backyard she shoved me, completely catching me off-guard, and I landed in a heap, surprised.  Laughing.  She plopped to the ground next to me and said, "Let's make snow angels."  I can look at that patch in the backyard at this very moment and clearly see the imprint of those angels as if we just walked in the door now after making them.

angel of God, my guardian dear

Yes, Erin loved snow...   The surrounding community knew that as well.

I pulled a very special box out of the cabinet this morning.

When we brought Erin home from the hospital two years ago, 
the school family that had supported us for three years gave her a remarkable gift.  
Every child, from the preschool through the eighth grade, cut paper snowflakes.
Each one unique.

They came in all shapes, sizes and colors.
More than 500 snowflakes.
Some simple and white.
Others intricate and detailed.

Some held spirited announcements.

Others proclaimed important messages.

Some were decorated with bright colors.  Wishes for happiness.

Others held the promise of prayer and pledges to go forth.
Help for those in need.

Yes Teresa, we were enveloped in a winter wonderland of love.

Erin and I had sat and read each one.
Little by little, I had begun to hang some on the walls of her downstairs bedroom.
We didn't have the chance to hang them all...

On December 22nd, they lined the walls of the funeral home. 
Again, the work of the community's hands. 
I remember children coming through the line.

"Mrs Potts, did you see my snowflake? It's on the wall over there. 
 Do you like it?   Did Erin like it?"
Yes. Yes. Yes.
Erin loved them.
I loved them then.
I love them just as much now.  Maybe even more if that's possible.

I remember that they hung from the Christmas trees on the altar 
of the church on December 23rd.
Alison and Jen sang "For Good" and John sang "Silent NIght".

such an extraordinary and blessed gift
then and now
thank you, all of you, dear friends
I don't know if you understand how much I cherish these treasures
and all the letters and emails that came then
and continue to arrive these days

there is marked depth to the written word that
is borne of emotion and allowed to flow freely

a precious gift
 received with profound gratitude
~ ~ ~

angel of God, my guardian dear ...
ever this day, be at my side

to light and guard,
to rule and guide


  1. You've been in my mind an heart a lot lately. We have been lighting Erin's birthday candle each night at dinner...and I thought of both of you this morning when Morgan saw the snow. When I see the flakes I think of you, and Erin's smile, and back to you. Sending many hugs and thoughts...

  2. What an original way to send love and prayers! I am stunned by their beauty. Thank you so much for sharing them with us - I feel the love holding your family, all the way out here - and I'm adding mine to it.

  3. Just perfect, lovely in every way. This community continues to hold you up. That is the Cardinal way....

  4. Had not realized the snowflakes arrived in time for Erin to enjoy ....those beautiful snowflakes truly brightened the walls of H & J and the church. Thinking of you, Mary, with heartfelt thoughts and prayers.....

  5. what a beautiful memory to have, of all the love in those snowflakes. I live in Atlanta so it doesn't snow here very often, but when it does I'll think of Erin.
    Sending thoughts and prayers for your healing Mary as you come upon 2 years without your sweet girl here on this earth. She truly is an Angel, watching over you, God bless her.

  6. The snowflakes are absolutely beautiful!
    and that's my favorite prayer.
    We miss her so much but the flakes will forever be a wonderful reminder of how amazing Erin is and what an impact she made.
    Amazing girl, amazing friend.

  7. snowflakes in vermont as well. reminding me of erin.