I’d just left a Day of the Dead event when I got the news. Lori called me. The moment she said, “I have some sad news” I knew it was about death.
She proceeded to tell me that our cousin Robert’s 18-year old stepson, Joshua, had lost his life the night before. It was tragic and unexpected.
A few days later, I drove out to Orange County to pray the rosario. I was late and I arrived just as the prayer had ended. I greeted Robert with a long, tight hug. It was the same kind of hug I gave him when he showed up at the scene of my car accident exactly a year ago.
“I’m sorry,” I said and truly meant it.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
Robert let me go and I greeted other family members there to pray for Joshua. I looked over the flowers, two dozen prayer candles, photos of Joshua with his mom and brother, and tiny stuffed animals placed at the corner of a yard. I read intensely personal notes left from friends and his mom, but stopped as I felt I was invading someone’s privacy.
I drove for an hour and 45 minutes, but was only at the site for 15 or 20 minutes. I said a temporary goodbye to Robert, he’d be at the house in a few minutes to have dinner with my family.
Robert pressed a rosary with purple beads into my palm and formed my hand into a fist.
“Grandpa says, ‘just ’cause you got here late doesn’t mean you escaped praying the rosary.'”
I smiled and nodded.
“Besides, it’s your mom’s rosary.”
I took the beads and put them in my pocket.
“Whenever we would complain about praying before bed, my dad would bring up Grandpa. He says that Grandpa made them pray the rosary every night… and on their knees! Grandpa didn’t mess around.”
It was good to see him smile.