Kelly, Monica and Donna attend Mass at Elena's church, St Lucy's
"Mama how are you feeling? Gerard said you had a headache so we let you sleep."
Monica smiled at her youngest daughter, "I am still a little tired but I feel better" she sat at the table and looked around. "Where is Donna and Gerard?"
Kelly chewed her bite of chicken then spoke "Donna is watching "A Christmas Story". I'm not sure about Gerard. He was here but I think he took off. He didn't look like he felt good either. He looked sort of sad, I guess and that's terrible on Christmas Eve."
Guilt tore at Monica. It was her fault he was sad, her fault he was unhappy and she knew it. She never should have let herself get so close to him.
"Mom what is going on? You look like you are going to cry" Kelly pushed her plate away. "Are you missing Dad?"
Monica looked at her daughter and lied "Yes, and I'm sure you are too"
Kelly looked down and shrugged "I miss Daddy but I don't think he would want you to be sad. Especially on Christmas Eve." She was quiet a moment then asked "Mom are you in love with Gerard, cause I can tell he loves you a bunch"
Monica was surprised by the question. "Kelly, Gerard is a wonderful man but you and your sister come first in my life. I've been meaning to tell you that after Christmas we are going to look for a place of our own. Won't that be nice?"
Kelly looked at her mom with a frown "But mom I like it here. I don't want to leave Donna and she said we could stay as long as we wanted"
"Honey, we have to leave sometime. We will still see Donna. We can visit her anytime we want." She hated that Kelly looked so sad. "Now stop frowning. This is Christmas Eve. Maybe I could let you open on of your gifts tonight."
"Don't forget I'm going to mid-night mass with Donna" Kelly said, "I promised her." Kelly and Donna had become very close. Monica knew that would make leaving just that much harder.
"I know I'm going to go too. Now lets get these dishes done and see if there is anything we can do to help Donna get ready for tomorrow. There is going to be a house full of people."
The movie was just about over when they went in to talk to her. She asked Kelly if she wanted to help her bake some pies. Monica sat at the table while Donna taught Kelly secrets for making piecrust. Watching them she once again realized just how hard it would be for Kelly to leave here. She thought of Donna as a grandma.
By eleven o'clock Gerard was still gone and Monica was trying desperately not to ask Donna if she knew where he was. She had told him to leave her alone and he doing as she asked. When the last of the pies were done they decided to get ready for church.
When they left the house the night was beautifully clear but heart stopping cold. The moon cast a beautiful but eerie gleam on the snow. The drive to Newark was almost traffic free.
Monica was struck by the breathtaking beauty of St Lucy's when they arrived twenty minutes before mass was to start. Candles were lit outside on the church steps to light the way for the Christ Child. It was however the inside of the inside of the church that was spectacular. Looking up she saw the sweeping cathedral ceiling and the awe-inspiring paintings. A large stain glass dome commanded the most attention. To add to the beauty, running down each side of the church were gorgeous marble archways. All this led the eye to t he altar, the focal point of the church that was beyond mere beauty.
Kelly took it all in and whispered "This is the most beautiful church I have ever been in." Monica agreed, it was simply beyond words.
Donna heard them and was pleased. "Thank you both for coming with me. I really wanted to share his with you and Msgr Joseph will be saying the mass. You will like his sermon. They are always good."
They stood in the back while Donna scanned the quickly filling seats looking for open space for them. Kelly tapped her mom on the shoulder and pointed, "Look at the plaque" She pointed to a large bronze plaque on the wall near her.
Monica gazed to the words "National Shrine of St Gerard" Her heart missed a beat. God she missed Gee. She hoped her was alright.
Donna motioned for them to follow her to some open space in one of the pews towards the front. Once seated Monica closed her eyes and said a prayer for strength to always do what was right. She prayed for forgiveness. The mass was about to begin when she opened her eyes and looked up. There stood Gerard looking at her with more love in his eyes than she had ever known.
His mother and Kelly moved down a bit so he could take his seat by Monica. Donna reached across Monica and took his hand in hers. "Thank you" she whispered to him then turned away. He smiled sadly and looked towards the altar.
Monica could see the pain in his eyes and knew he was remembering Elena's funeral. She took his hand in hers and gently squeezed. He didn't look at her but held her hand tightly. A few moments later he reached into his pocket and took out a small box. His eyes looked teary when he looked at Monica. "Please take this. You are the only one I will ever want to have it." He whispered as he placed the box in her hand.
She looked down at the small box and with shaking hands opened it. Inside lay the beautiful locket that had belonged to his beloved grandma. In giving this to her he was giving her a part of his life that was precious. Her hands shook slightly as she raised it from the box. He took it from her hand and placed it around her neck. Where it touched her skin she felt the warmth of love. Words could not express her feelings. She simply lay her head on his shoulder and let her tear fall silently.