Phyllis was my older "girl" cousin. I looked up to her. I copied her, I wanted to be like her. Phyllis once said that she wanted to sew all of her own clothes when she was on her own, and that made me bug my poor grandmother until she taught me how to sew too! My sister and I admired Phyllis and her sister Opal so much, that when we got a big walking doll for Christmas one year, we named her Opal Phyllis!
Phyllis let my sister and I play volley ball with the family even though we were the youngest and the shortest kids at the time that wanted to play.
Over the years Phyllis did other things too that I admired. She made her own wedding dress. It wasn't a white gown. It was a calico country dress, something that Laura Ingalls might have worn or approved it. I just liked how Phyllis did things her own way and with her own style.
She and her husband built a house. I mean literally. They built the house! It was a shell for a long time, but I enjoyed visiting every year and seeing how they had made progress and how this year they got kitchen cabinets, and the next they finished the drywalling. I remember one year Phyllis was pushing her husband to finish her daughter's room because she was a senior that year and she wanted her to have at least one year in her completely finished teenage room!
Phyllis and her sisters and mother could harmonize. Phyllis and her husband took guitars on the road and sang folk songs at local fairs and things too. I loved that they could do that.
When Rosie was born and I gave her the middle name of Dorothy, Phyllis wrote me to tell me how much that meant to her mother. Phyllis was in remission then. It touched me that she reached out to me like that.
This week since I learned that Phyllis had a bad prognosis, I decided to ask God for the works. I asked for a Christmas Miracle. I had it in my mind that I would ask God to cure my cousin. I had this little fantasy I kept replaying in my mind that Phyllis would wake up and ask to go to the bathroom, and then come back and ask for something to eat, and that she would sit there and eat her food and everyone would be amazed at how normal she was acting and feeling. And then when they went to check with her doctors, she was completely cancer free!! I've been entertaining that dream every night this week. So much so that I was feeling confident that it would happen. I would especially ask my own little intercessor, Raphael, to pray for our cousin's cure. But as I prayed in church today for this miracle, it was always with the caveate that if it was God's will that she not be cured, that I could accept it.
Today was a normal day. I took Gabe to serve mass, I took my kids to the library, I did my typing. I thought about Phyllis. I replayed my fantasy.
Tonight I got an e-mail that Phyllis had died. My heart pounded when I opened it. Gosh that was so hard to read. There wasn't going to be a miracle, at least not as I had expected.
I re-read the e-mail: "Phyllis passed away today (12/28) at 3PM."
Maybe my little intercessor had my prayers answered anyway. My sweet cousin passed away on one of my favorite feasts, The Holy Innocents, at 3:00, the hour of mercy. Maybe, just maybe, God did answer my prayers.
Eternal rest grant unto her, 0 Lord. And let perpetual light shine upon her. May she rest in peace. Amen. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
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