I’m finished with silent reading time and I am going to Sr. Salisbury’s office. This must be important. She’s the Head of the whole school, even more than Sr. Bayo, who is just head of the Lower School. I walk the whole way there, down the marble stairs, through the rotunda and across the lobby, by myself.
When I get behind the big wooden door, her office is huge and very fancy. The walls are mauve. Aunt Bridget taught me that word because that’s the color of her nail polish. A huge desk is in one section across from a living room set. The tall windows look out onto Fifth Avenue. I sit in a chair facing her desk.
She says, “Kate, I want to talk to you and to give you something.”
She comes out from behind her desk and hands me a black box that looks like a jewelry box. I open it.
“Do you know what that is?”
It’s silvery metal but too small to be a necklace. It has a cross on the end and a picture of Mary. “A Rosary?”
“Yes, it's a fifth of the rosary. The whole rosary is much longer. I want you to have this. Someone gave this to me when I was a very young nun.”
“Thank you.” I am not sure if I am supposed to say anything else.
“On each of these beads, you say a Hail Mary.”
She shows me how to hold it and we say a “Hail Mary” together.
She goes back behind her desk. I sit in a huge chair, careful not to swing my legs even though my feet are nowhere near the floor.
“God asks a lot of you, you know.”
“I guess so," I hadn’t thought about it this way.
“You must be feeling that this is very hard. Not many children your age have to handle all the things you do right now. Sometimes, when God asks things if us, it doesn’t feel fair. It’s ok if you feel mad. Did you know it’s ok to be mad at God?”
“It is. In fact, I get mad at God sometimes. Especially when I can’t understand what he’s doing.”
“Really. So, are you angry at God? It’s ok if you are.”
“No. I don't think so.”
“Have you asked God for anything?”
“Do you pray for your father to get better?”
“No. I pray if God has to take Daddy, that Daddy will be asleep when he dies so he won’t be scared. I’ll never ask for anything else, if he can let Daddy be asleep.”
She looks at me and says nothing. I think she’s never going to say anything again. I’m opening and closing my fingers. I pick at my cuticle. Finally she says, “That’s really amazing, Kate. Absolutely amazing.”
“What is?” I can sense she’s proud of me or happy with me.
“With everything you’ve been asked, you didn’t pray for what you wanted or what you needed. You prayed that your father wouldn’t be scared.”
“I love him and I don’t want him to be scared.” I look at her and she knows that I know he’s not going to wake up. I close the huge door behind me and walk across the lobby back to the Lower School.