I’ve always prayed to Mary, because she intercedes on the behalf of all Mothers — something I wanted to be and would never be. I believed for years that Tom and I had time to adopt children. But as I neared my 40’s and the cancer just kept recurring, somewhere along this way, I gave up. Sadly, we gave up.
Just eight weeks before our wedding, I was told I had cancer and would never have children. I was absolutely devastated, but relieved that it was considered curable at the time. I seriously don’t know how I would have handled losing Tom at this point in my life, but I did give him a chance to walk away. He stood by me and never looked back.
My brother Bob was a priest at Holy Martyrs parish in Tarentum, PA at the time. He had been a priest for less than 10 years. He talked to Tom and me about God’s plan for us — and told us that we can make all the plans we want to, but in the end, we follow God’s plan. Tom and I clung to those words over the years. We believe them and put all our trust in God. During the most difficult situations, we turn to God. I honestly believe that we would not be as strong as we are without God in our lives. And, it’s not always easy. Sometimes we just don’t understand things, but we put our complete trust in Him.
And Mary. My Grandma Miller gave me a statue of Mary — one that she had displayed in her home since I can remember. And strangely enough, she gave the statue to me when she moved out of her home, because she knew I would take care of it. I don’t know how she knew that — I never asked her for it or even told her that I prayed to Mary all the time. It sits on my dresser and everyday as I put on my jewelry, I look at the statue and I pray a Hail Mary — sometimes two, sometimes three. The statue is chipped, old and has no monetary value — but to me, it means so much!
This year during the month of May, I’ve been trying to say the Rosary in honor of Mary a few times a week. I go to bed and sometimes fall asleep in the middle of it, waking up with it still wrapped around in my hand. I have the most beautiful rosary too. It’s made of mother of pearl, and Bob got it for me in Rome.
My Grandpap Knowlson used to say the Rosary everyday from his chair in their living room. He would say it anytime someone was in trouble — for someone else’s benefit. That’s something that I aspire to do a better job of — something so good as to pray on behalf of someone else, who doesn’t even know you’re doing it for them. When I had my surgery in 2009, parishioners at St. Gregory’s prayed the Rosary during one Saturday evening mass on my behalf. When I learned of this, I cried. I was so touched that others interceded for me — there was no feeling of greater love than that — from a community of believers.
I know that everyone has their own cross to bear. Sometimes my friends will say something like, “I shouldn’t complain to you about … it’s nothing compared to what you have to go through,” and my response is that everyone has trials and nobody can compare those kinds of things. It’s how we handle the cards that are dealt to us — that is where we have a choice — to make a difference and inspire others if possible. I know one day I’ll fully understand this cross that I must bear.
Until then, I will trust in God and will always honor the Blessed Virgin Mary, especially during the month of May.
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thy intercession was left unaided. Inspired with this confidence, I fly to thee, O Virgin of virgins, my Mother; to thee do I come; before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me. Amen.