So, I’d consider myself a religious person. I go to church. I actually love going to church. The singing, getting to be surrounded by beautiful stained glass, seeing my friends. The free snacks.
I help out in youth group when I can and always, always, pray before a big test. I guess I took my faith for granted, it was just a thing that was there, that both felt a part of me and separate from me. I’d participate, but then leave, focusing more on school or what else I needed to do that day. I believed in God, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say He was in my every thought and action. So, it’s an understatement to say that nothing prepared me for meeting Mary for the first time. Like, the Mary, mother of Jesus.
She came to me in what I first thought was a dream, light pulsating around her, muffling her features. When she smiles though, I feel the jolt of recognition in my heart.
I’ve seen paintings of her my whole life, but that isn’t how I know it is her. She fills me with a light of knowledge. In an instant, everything becomes clear—my life, my purpose, the history and future of humanity. I can’t put words to the knowing, but it feels like a physical thing resting in me. The place we are in is warm and comforting. The heat radiates through my body, coursing as it if is a part of me. Maybe it is. Flowing through me alongside my blood.
I look around, but I can’t make out anything that surrounds us. Just soft forms. Objects without clear borders, existing on the edges of my vision.
She is the same softness, features barely discernible beneath her purple robes. The fabric looks lush and heavy, and I want to reach my fingers out to touch it, but find I don’t have the energy to lift my hand. Instead, I just sit and look at her, and enjoy being in her presence.
I’m not sure how long we stay there, her standing and me staring, but when I feel wakefulness pull at me, I fight it. I don’t want to leave this place. I want to live here forever. When my lids open, I frantically search for her. My eyes dart to each corner of my darkened room, but she is gone, the knowledge she brought dissipating into the nothingness around me.
My body feels like it’s trying to separate from my mind at school the next day. I walk from class to class, going through the motions of my day, but my focus is completely shot. There’s a combination of lack of sleep last night plus a mix of fear and hope that Mary will come to me while I’m sitting in class, which makes me useless for learning.
Part of me desperately wants her to visit, to validate what happened last night was real. But a larger part of me is scared that it’ll cause some visible fit and everyone will think I’m nuts. As much as I long to see her, I decide to put all my attention toward willing her away.
By fifth period, my best friend Stacey pulls me aside. Not so gently, causing me to almost trip over my feet and fall to the ground.
“Stevie, what is going on with you?” she whispers as she drags me to our next class. She’s concerned about me, but not so worried as to risk getting detention by being late.
“Huh? Oh, nothing.” I try to sound nonchalant, oblivious to her reason for questioning.
I sigh. “No, really, just didn’t sleep well last night. That’s all, I swear.”
“Nothing to do with Jorge?”
As if her words could magically materialize into a person, my boyfriend Jorge rounds the corner. Deep in conversation with two other guys dressed in the same basketball team jacket, he looks up at the last minute and beams when he sees me.
“No,” I say out of the corner of my mouth to Stacey. “We’re all good.”
To put an exclamation point on what I told her, when we pass he stops and kisses me before moving back down the hall with a quick wave to Stacey.
See, my smile to her says.
She narrows her eyes at me, unconvinced that I’m not keeping something from her, but resigned that if I am, I’m not going to tell her. At least not yet.
Halfway through chemistry and I change my previous prayers. I beg Mary to come and take me. Take me anywhere. Anywhere that isn’t this classroom hearing Mr. Brown drone on about the periodic table and how important it is to memorize the common elements with their atomic numbers. As if we all are dreaming of becoming lab rats without the use of the internet or may be future contestants on Jeopardy.
Since I have aspirations of neither, I tune him out.
Somehow, I make it through the day. Jorge has an away game tonight, so he’s not able to give me a ride home, and I’m stuck taking the bus. Luckily, since most seniors drive themselves, my fellow juniors and I get first dibs on the good seats at the back. I choose my when-Jorge-can’t-give-me-ride seat and slide all the way in, resting my head against the cold glass.
I’ve had a headache building all day. At first, I thought maybe it was because I forgot to eat breakfast this morning and didn’t drink enough water earlier, but I remedied both of those without any dissipation of the pain.
I’m not getting them super frequently, but they are certainly becoming more intense than the previous ones I’ve had on occasion. I have to take more than the recommended dose of pain meds usually to take the edge off now. I read some stuff online saying that it was common for girls my age to get migraines and might be diet related. Or, of course, it could be a tumor.
I rolled my eyes when that diagnosis came up. I swear, I could WebMD a stubbed toe and they’d probably say that undiagnosed foot cancer was the root of the pain, not the bloodied nail from jabbing it into my bed frame while walking in the dark.
As far as the migraines go, the diagnosis I’m most apt to believe is that doctors aren’t really sure why they happen, but that people typically grew out of them.
As I close my eyes and lean harder into the cool windowpane, I hope it will happen for me sooner than later.
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