When I was growing up, I wouldn’t say I lived in a very religious house or anything. Don’t get me wrong, when my dad was alive we went to church on Christmas and I think Easter. There were statues of Mary around the house. I even made my first holy communion.

But, when my dad died; it seemed religion went with him. I had a good stretch of years when I was truly pissed at God. I got older and got over it. God and I are cool now.

In my house, there was this one picture that always freaked me out. I don’t know if it was in my house or my grandmother’s house. I want to say it was in my mother’s bedroom.

Anyhow, it was the picture of Jesus where he is opening his chest and you see that creepy heart all gold-ed up. I used to stare at that picture for hours thinking why is Jesus showing us his bedazzled heart like that? I also wondered what Jesus was thinking. In the picture he looked so sad. I thought maybe it was because his heart was all exposed. I would be sad if my heart was all out of my chest. Also, I would hope someone would want to help me put it back into my chest. It isn’t normal to have a heart all exposed. It makes the person too susceptible to things.

As I got older, we moved. That picture followed us to our new home. But when my mom died, I lost track of the picture. I think my grandmother may have taken it. Truth be told, the picture was odd, so I was happy not to see it any more.

Life is funny and things have a way of returning to you.

It was about three Christmases ago. Actually, it may have even been four Christmases ago. Either way, it was a time in both our lives when the cliché shit was hitting the fan.

I walked into a familiar living room and sat down at a comforting table all set with food for a holiday feast.  As my mind raced with your struggles, I continued the silent prayer to God for your protection. I looked up and guess who is looking back at me? The same Jesus picture from my youth was just giving me a bit of a wave. Jesus had his heart all exposed again and his face still held that sad expression. I focused on the picture trying to figure out what it all meant. Why, when I was feeling your struggles, did I happen to look up and see this picture?

Jesus and I had a staring contest. I kept silently telling him to put his bejeweled heart away because I was about to pretend to eat some ham and I wanted to know what he wanted from me.

As I continued staring, Jesus’ face took on a very familiar look. Jesus’ brown puppy eyes suddenly had your golden flecks in them. His hair starting falling the way yours did. His expression became yours.

I looked at that picture and in my mind I screamed for you to put your heart away. You told me you couldn’t because I was the only one who could see it. I was the only one who would even bother looking for it.

I have been so dumb when it comes to you. All of these little hints and messages I missed. I was consumed with my own fear of things lost that I didn’t understand I had nothing to fear.

I still do it. I still get frightened. I am getting better. I am learning that if I don’t say the things I need to say, I could risk the loss I am so afraid of in the first place. I can’t change the past. I don’t know what will happen in the future… all I have is this tiny word” hope” and a picture of a bedazzled heart.