As an adult, my life was not always so easy. I made so many dumb choices starting at about 18. In 1996, at 36, I was divorced and struggling with two kids. I had two jobs, but just couldn’t manage. So, I filed for bankruptcy, and moved into a close friend’s home. My dear friend, Betty, was in her 80s and wanted someone she knew to live in her home when her family placed her in an assisted living facility. We’d made arrangements for me to buy it on a rent-to-own basis.
I was working FT as a Para-Professional and was awarded a merit scholarship to the University of Toledo to get my teaching degree. It was so hard to juggle it all, and when Betty died, my chances to stay in the houses grew slim. Her kids wanted me to buy it conventionally, or get out. I was so distraught…there was nowhere for me to go, and I was in school FT living off my school loans. I had one last chance, and that was to get help from the Catholic Charities mortgage program (which ultimately denied me).
It happened to be Ash Wednesday, 2002. I was driving home from that meeting realizing that I’d missed mass, too. My frustration was beginning to build up. So many emotions consumed me, and while at a stoplight I grabbed the crucifix of my Rosary hanging from the rear view mirror, and I let God have it! I remember actually shouting through tears that I hated him for not helping me…for not loving me. I just couldn’t understand. I was so heartbroken, and angry.
It was about a 5-minute drive home, but one that I will never forget. As my tears subsided, I put on my sunglasses so the other drivers wouldn’t see that I was crying. At the next traffic light, I noticed there were red droplets of what I assumed to be catsup on the crucifix, and I was annoyed thinking my son had squirted it on there. So, as I drove I tried to rub it off, and when I took my sunglasses off to inspect it, there was nothing there! The droplets only showed up with my sunglasses on. Then, I noticed where each was…on Jesus’ forehead, abdomen, hands, and feet.
At that split second, I felt something was not right. What came next was so profound I still get overcome with emotion…all I remember is white light, so bright I couldn’t see to drive, and from it came the most profound feelings of love. I can’t begin to describe it, but all I can say is that I knew in my heart I was experiencing divine presence. I don’t actually know how long this occurred…time simply stopped for a few seconds. Then the light was gone, and I was in traffic.
I was disoriented and shaking as I drove the short distance home. When I pulled into the driveway, my son Sean and his friend “D” came running out to the car. I’d forgotten I had to drive them to Karate lessons. They were late. I thought, “OMG! How could I act normally?!” I’d put my glasses back on so they couldn’t see I’d been crying, but those drops were still there (although they’d begun to flatten). I matter-of-factly asked the boys to look at the crucifix. They each said there was red “stuff” on it. They could see it! How?
I had to force myself to act normally. How does one act when they witness a miracle??? My life had changed in a split second. “I” had changed in a split second, and I had to figure out what to do…how to act, what to say, or not to say. The red drops slowly disappeared over 24-hours. I came so close to going to my parish priest, but was afraid to. I have replayed this in my head for years, and it’s as if it has imprinted into my memory…every second…every emotion…even bits of memory of my surroundings.
The desire to avoid scrutiny has kept me from telling many people, except for those who would benefit from it. I feel spiritually connected to those I do share this with. I seem to know when the time is right. I did find a deacon (now a priest in upstate NY) online last year when searching for reported visions similar to this (without luck), and he was very helpful.
Actually, it’s what he said about witnessing the stigmata that I have just come to accept…”the miracle you witnessed I feel was very real and may have been a sign from God that you will go through much but not to doubt. You denounced God, and now Satan wants your soul. This miracle was a true blessing, and you must never lose faith for Satan and his allies will prey on every weakness, every moment of doubt, every fear you have testing your faith. You will know what to do…spend your days in prayer and ask for guidance.”
My life changed, but with many trials and tribulations that I would learn to deal with and overcome Outwardly, I’m just like the person standing next to me at the local Wal-Mart, but in reality I am NOT like anyone else, unless I can find them. I kept it a secret for a long time, until a time would come when someone needed hope, then I would trust in God to give me the courage to share this experience.
I think about this every single day even after 8-years. It’s like a re-run over and over again, but I go about my daily life as if nothing ever happened simply because it’s not meant for everyone to know, for obvious reasons (although I feel God leads me in sharing with those who need to hear it).