Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Shocking, simply shocking

This past weekend, we attended a mass for my sister-in-law, Roxana, but this was no ordinary mass.

We arrived at the Carmelite convent in Hialeah just after 8 am on Sunday. The day started off okay. We got to see Roxana, already dressed in her nun garment and veil. WOW. They cut her hair the night before, so she had a boy cut underneath. Her beautiful hair was gone. She looked peaceful and she seemed happy. The family took turns greeting her and taking pictures outside. Then they called her inside.

This is when things got a bit out of the norm for me. My in-laws were the only ones allowed in at first and I found it odd that they did not let my husband (her brother) or her grandma Meri go in as well. A few minutes later, they allowed everyone to enter. We went into a narrow hallway and they did this process where she carried out a wooden baby Jesus, they spoke about what was taking place, she said some words, my in-laws took part in some of it, etc. and then the door was closed and she went in with the group of Carmelite nuns.

Once we went into the small church where the priest was starting the mass, Roxana was behind a white criss-cross gate. There was no access to her anymore. During the mass, I couldn't help but keep looking behind me at the nuns, and particularly at Rox. I was teary-eyed the whole time... and then I broke down. Several others were teary-eyed, too. My in-laws carried over some bibles on a plate as part of the mass, they read something that essentially said they give their daughter to serve the Lord, and then Rox said her vows. It was hard to watch. I felt like I was at a funeral, and then I felt guilty for feeling like this. At the end, Richard broke down and I just held him tight. Yet the volunteers and members of the church that surrounded us were applauding and congratulating my in-laws and everyone else! I didn't get it. We were in pain, and they were happy. Nothing made sense at that moment. I remember being angry, and then asking God to please forgive me for being angry because I felt that they were taking Rox away from her family. She was behind a gate... now what?

When the mass ended, we went outside to the hallway, and the nuns wanted to meet everyone and talk to us (through the gate, of course, because they cannot come out). There was this one church volunteer that kept congratulating me and trying to talk to me and offered me food, and then asked why I wasn't happy with this, when I should be celebrating... and so on. I tried to ignore her, but she continued. And continued. That was my breaking point. I told her, "You're right. I am not happy. I don't understand this, and I cannot be happy about this so please leave me alone." After her chipper self got to me, I told Richard that I couldn't stay in there, that I felt uncomfortable and I needed to get out. I went outside and cried. Poor Richard came after me, and I told him that maybe I was just not religious enough, but this didn't make sense to me. The drama, the gate, the lack of contact. I sent him back inside and told him I was okay, that he should be with his family.

Later on, I was able to go back inside. I composed myself, kept calm and carried on. Although I think I was numb after that. Everyone sat around and spoke with the nuns, who were very sweet and friendly. They really made an attempt to speak to us all. Rox looked happy so there's nothing we could do, but wish her well.

I don't know what will happen, whether she will stay there the rest of her life or not, but I feel bad for my in-laws and for Richard. And I miss Rox, because even though I may not agree with the choices she's made, I know her faith is strong, that she has a good heart and that she loves her family. And I know that this is something she feels she needs to do right now for whatever reason.

We could visit her through the gate once a month, and we can write her and send photos. That's how we'll keep in touch with her...

Thanks for making it this far since this was a long, rambling post...



Maritza said...

I think in time you will embrace Roxana's choice. You will always miss her. Thankfully, she is in a place where she went willingly. She is safe, healthy and full of life. Be proud. And remember to capture the journey. BTW, the pictures are pricelss. PEACE out

Damaris said...

My friend, many times throughout life we will not understand people's choices. This is rather difficult, especially when it comes to the spiritual aspect of life. I know Rox's choices have caused pain and sorrow. I am so very proud of you by being present and supporting, respecting and loving her unconditionally although you did not agree with her choices. At the end of the day, you do not have to agree with her but allow her to make her own decisions. I am keeping all of the family if prayer, asking God to give you all peace and serenity regarding this situation. IT's ok to be angry and question. It has nothing to do with (not being religious enough). THIS is a monumental event for you & your family. I guarantee you...GOD understands your feelings and will NOT hold it against you...what FATHER DOES? The pictures are heartwrenching...I see how the tears course down her face...this is definitely something worthy to preserve. Life brings us not only happiness but also trials and tribulations. Yet, those make our happiness even sweeter and more special. Life is good because GOD IS GOOD!
I love you lots,

Sharon said...

Wow Vanessa, I would not know what I would have done in your shoes. You were so brave to go back in there. It was uncomfortable reading the post, so I can't even imagine how much more it was for you to witness it and see it all happen. It's hard, but I guess everyone has the right to make their own decisions, and even if they affect us, sometimes we just need to trust that GOD is in control, and that it all happens for a reason. Since you want happiness for her life, I know, like Marizta said, that little by little you'll learn to accept it as good for her, since this makes her happy.
God is good all the time, and all the time GOD is good!

Dayami said...

Vanessa, thank you for sharing this with us. I cannot even imagine what you were feeling. All I can do is send you lots of ****HUGS****
Dayami ;)

Ady said...

I totally understand how you feel and what the family is going through right now. She looked at peace with her decision and all we can do is pray for her and support her.

Margie said...

My amiga...I don't know what to tell you. I can totally understand why you felt the way you did. Like every above has mentioned already, have peace in knowing she's there at her own will. I'll pray for you and your family for peace and guidance thru this time. Now, as for that church volunteer, I know exactly what the problem was there...she crossed your line! No one warned her about what happens when someone crosses Vanessa's line??! Things can get ugly up in there! lol. I love you!

Anonymous said...

WOW. Vanessa I feel for you and Rox's family. It must have been so difficult to go through that. However, know that she did it of her own free will and sometimes what is best for someone is not something we agree with - - but - - it is in God's hands and will all turn out good.
Keep the faith.