Dear Mother Mary,

My first thought, on Mother’s Day, is of my husband. That seems odd, I suppose, but you understand it, don’t you? I think you and he have a special bond. He doesn’t talk about it much, but I see it there. I see it in the way he makes sure that I can go spend time with your Son. I see it in patience he exhibits with his own mother. I see it in the love he gives so freely, so unconditionally.

When I think of my husband, dear Mother Mary, I think of you.

You must have had your eye on me for a while. I don’t know how else to explain the many mother-figures I’ve had – and needed – in my life. Long before I was Catholic and started acknowledging your role in my life, you were there, doing what mothers quietly do behind the scenes, setting the stage for your Son even as your wayward daughter ignored everything you said and nearly everyone you sent.

But this one guy…I couldn’t ignore him.

You see, he looked at me that way. You know what I mean, don’t you? It wasn’t like he was trying to undress me; it was like he cared, like he was really listening, like he enjoyed my company.

This guy, Mary, took me to some pretty incredible places. One of them was a little church in a tiny little town, where I remember smelling Easter lilies and seeing sun stream in through the stained glass. That was also the little church where I first felt you hugging me.

You sure hug hard for someone I can’t see!

That Mass on Mother’s Day those many years ago, Padre was preaching about mothers, about the role they play, about their importance, and – of course – about you. In the way that only priests can, he touched my heart. And I started sobbing uncontrollably.

I had to leave.

I perched on the steep narrow staircase to the choir loft and sobbed. When Mass ended and Father processed out, he asked if I was OK. You can’t blame him for seeming a little worried. I was, after all Miss Know-it-all-rational-answers-for-everything. Or maybe he wasn’t worried. Maybe in his 30 years of priestly life he had seen that sort of thing before.

That was only the beginning (or the middle?). Once I acknowledged the joy of Christianity and Catholicism, you became the backdrop.

Don’t confuse my devotion for worship, though (not that you would). You are a hero of mine, that’s true, but everything you point me to leads me back to your Son. As I’ve called out for help, you respond, and you take me to the Cross, to that stable, to the Mount of Olives.

Mary, you have been the one who has shown me how a mother loves. As you’ve leaned me up against Jesus in my weak times, you’ve showered prayers all around me. As you’ve smiled down at my little victories, you’ve reminded me to thank the One who made my life possible. As you’ve shared my agonies, you’ve prompted me to pour out my heart to my Father.

It was never my intention to be a mother, Mary. Remember that? We can smile together over tea about that someday.

Now that I am a mother – and happily, I might add – I can’t think of better company to be in than yours. Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. Thanks for being the example I can always follow, and the one who unfailingly leads me back to the Truth.

Love (and baby drool),