When I was born, it was in a hospital. I was not baptized. I was raised by my parents, including on Sundays. I didn’t know who Adam and Eve were, or what it meant to be “devoted to the Lord.” God was another name of a person I had not yet met, like a side character in a book that you only hear about when necessary.
Sixteen years later, I’ve been to a church just once. I went for a funeral of a man I never knew. Christmas was just another celebration in which I get presents, I never questioned why. Saint Valentine’s day was my mother’s favorite holiday, gifting and spoiling us girls. But to me, it was always just “Valentine’s Day.” I woke on Easter morning, not at midnight for church, but to eggs hidden around the house filled with money and candy. I always gained ten dollars and ten pounds that day.
I’ve never tasted the bitter red wine or of a simple white cracker, which symbolizes much more than I know.
I was lost. I was confused and I didn’t know who to go to or what to do. “Go to God!” they say. “He knows all the answers!” my preacher friends say. I don’t know who that is! And here I am, thinking the President is the most important person in the nation.
Easter Sunday. I was watching the final episode of an intense show in which a teenager kills herself by slitting her wrists in a bathtub. Wasn’t attempt of suicide once against the law? So illegal, that it was punished by death sentence?
I was anxious, but I couldn’t peel my eyes off the bright screen in the late hours of the night. I was still lost, wasting my time doing silly things when I should be in school. I didn’t know who to talk to, but I knew. Easter Sunday. Mr. Preacher Man will be awake, and he will comfort me and tell me what to do. Make my head rest.
But mine and Mr. Preacher Man’s dictionary were the opposite of uncanny. I spoke of nothing of what he knew. Although, he spoke of what I knew. I always felt as if our friendship was unbalanced because of that; he knew my life, but I knew little of his.
“Mr. Preacher Man! Mr. Preacher Man! When are you going to bed?” I said.
“Eh,” he said. I knew this was my cue that he was as restless as I.
“Will you stay awake and talk to me? I’m awake and anxious. Of anything? Everything?” He laughed at this response. He always thought I was overdramatic.
“Okay, Kayla. Of course.” Our conversations always had two routes. 1. They lasted hours until the dark or 2. They didn’t last at all. I was afraid this was going to be a case 2 kind of night, and that frightened me. Not tonight. Not when I needed words most.
“How was your Easter?” I thought this was a very good response. He is Mr. Preacher Man, after all.
“Great. It’s always nice to spend time with the family.” At this point, I got side tracked. Mission accomplished. I got curious, though. I became curious of why. What is Easter and why is it spent with family? Is it like Dia De Los Muertos? What does the Easter Bunny have to do with anything? If anything? Why eggs? Bunnies don’t lay eggs.
“What is Easter?” Then I knew I triggered Mr. Preacher Man. I knew I could never get him to stop talking. I was glad in the end. This is when we talked of his life. Of his beliefs and passions I never knew about. Of the man in the air.
For two hours, he talked. I responded in between texts, to be polite. But nothing to stir the conversation in a different place. Never have I seen Mr. Preacher Man talk so passionately before. There was a flow of his words that warmed my blue heart. Don’t stop now!
It began with the beginning. Of Adam and Eve and the creation of the world. Of God and Jesus and his reincarnation. Things began to fall into place. He explained how his church differed from my other preacher friend’s; he had explained it many time before, but I finally understood. He talked of the different religions – of Rome and what Easter celebrates. Holy Thursday. Good Friday. Holy Saturday, Easter Sunday.
I wouldn’t allow myself to distract, I let Mr. Preacher Man do that himself. He got lost, in a good way, not like me. He got lost in Saints. He talked of so many Saints. Saints that could help me, my problems. People who helped him and surreal stories of real people. I was stunned. I was so stunned, I cried. It was amazing. When he was done with his preaching, he said one thing to me.
“Those are just a few people who will always have your back.” And I knew he believed it, so it made me believe it, too. I wrote a letter that night.