The rosary is a path she has walked since the days of her childhood when, in the dull red heat of Chihuahua afternoons, she would sit in the shade and pray, working the beads in her fingers.
The beads have never been far from her hand. They were once bright and polished, but years of devotions have worn away the color. Each bead is the member of a family known only to her. Here is the bead with the chink near the cord. Here, the ten bright sisters of the second decade. Here is the void where once had been the large bead for the second Padre Nuestro. A place in her heart is saddened whenever her fingers encounter that void. It was in the tragedy that had swept her old life away, when she was a girl with a mother and a father and a brother. Then there are the three new beads --the beads that were carved by her husband many gray years later from the walnut tree that stood in the corner of garden behind the house in Merced. The house where they had raised their children. The house where her life flowed alongside that of her husband.
She murmurs while her mind probes the Great Mystery. Her voice is a ghost.
En el nombre del Padre, y del Hijo, y del Espíritu Santo. Amén.
She knew the boy before she ever saw him. Tottering out of Hector's van in the predawn, her first sight was of the car. It was not a car she knew. There were two people in the front seat. The scarecrow girl and the hatchet-faced man. She did not see the boy lying in the back seat, but she knew of him. She is sure he had come to her in a dream.
Creo en Dios Padre Todopoderoso, Creador del Cielo y de la tierra, y en Jesucristo su Único Hijo, Nuestro Señor, que fue concebido por obra y gracia del Espíritu Santo;
When the boy emerged from the car, she saw first his broken mouth and then his confusion and anguish and knew that he was caught in something he feared and did not understand.
Padre nuestro, que estás en el Cielo, santificado sea Tu nombre; venga a nosotros Tu Reino; hágase Tu Voluntad, así en la tierra como en el cielo.
"And what business is that of yours?"
It is Father Pedro's voice. Her memories of Father Pedro are vivid in every detail except for his face. She cannot remember. Was it kindly or stern? Smooth or wrinkled? Handsome or ugly? But she does not wonder on it overmuch. She remembers mostly the sound of his voice --the way it enveloped her in warmth and peace much like the waters that nearly drown her.
"Will you weep if the boy is swept away? Has there not been enough weeping already in your life?"
Dános hoy nuestro pan de cada día; perdona nuestras ofensas como también nosotros perdonamos a los que nos ofenden; no nos dejes caer en tentación y líbranos del mal. Amén.
"If it is my part to weep, I will weep." This she replies to the memory that confronts her. This is easy for her. She has never lost the reassurance she found on that terrible day in her childhood.
Dios te salve María, llena eres de Gracia, El Señor es contigo, bendita Tú eres entre todas las mujeres, y bendito es el fruto de tu vientre, Jesús.
They were gathering firewood in the dry riverbed, the wind chasing the storm clouds away to the east. Jaime, forever a child, stooped to pull at a half-buried tree limb. A trickle of clear water cut a channel through the sand. They did not notice the swell.
The roar from the canyon alerted them. Jaime straightened and turned to the mouth of the shallow canyon from whence the noise came. Then she saw her father, sprinting toward them across the sand, yelling and waving his arms. But his voice was lost in the growing tumult.
Gloria al Padre, y al Hijo y al Espíritu Santo.
A wall of water gushed from the mouth of the canyon, pushing before it a riot of dead brush. As it bore down on him, Jaime turned to her. Her father, eyes wide with terror, rushed toward him, his feet raising small eruptions of water with each stride.
She saw her father embrace the boy, then saw the flood envelop them both in oblivion. It was upon her only seconds later.
Vuelve a nosotros esos Tus ojos misericordiosos, y después de este destierro muéstranos a Jesús, fruto bendito de Tu vientre. ¡Oh clemente! ¡Oh piadosa! ¡Oh dulce Virgen María!
The boy from the car needs help. He fears to act; he fears that choosing will doom him. If she could only reach him...
To be continued...
Read Part I here.
Read Part II here.
Read Part III here.
Read Part IV here.
Read Part V here.
Read Part VI here.
Read Part VII here.
Read Part VIII here.
Read Part IX here.
Read Part X here.
Read Part XI here.
Read Part XII here.
Read Part XIII here.
Read Part XIV here.
Read Part XV here.
Read Part XVI here.
Read Part XVII here.
Read Part XVIII here.