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Sunday, November 8, 2015

Robert

Happy Sunday, dear readers. I hope your favorite football teams have won their respective games.

It was our week to go to the Latin Mass church as per our usual arrangement and upon entering the church, we took our seats at the end of the pew. While going over the announcements, Canon Bill mentioned that from November 1-9, if you went to a cemetery and prayed for a deceased person, a plenary indulgence would be granted to the intercessor and 500 souls would be released from Purgatory. Hubby and I immediately turned to each other, as we both had the same man in mind. We would be paying his grave a visit after Mass.

The deceased man we would be visiting in the cemetery was my hubby's late best friend, most faithful student, and most trusted dope dealer. His name was Robert Contreras and while I never met this illustrious individual, I have him to thank for my subsequent marriage and family.

Robert Casimiro Contreras. Husband, father, student, dealer, friend, and matchmaker from beyond the grave

Robert and my hubby met through my husband's tutoring business at the University of Arizona, and they became good friends. They sold weed and other drugs to students at the school, did all kinds of fun and/or crazy stuff together, and utilized a wide social network for their needs. I've encountered some of this remaining network through Robert's family and some of my hubby's other friends or other establishments. In fact, our daughter's disgraced godfather was the longtime childhood friend of Robert Contreras. They had, quite literally, grown up next door to each other.

In 2001, Robert was diagnosed with cancer. It was Hodgkins Lymphoma, and the only reason it was even discovered was because Robert had gone hiking on Mt. Lemmon with his family and came down with giardia from drinking dirty water up there. Robert would undergo treatment for the cancer, and in 2003, it was declared in remission. But, as cancers are wont to do, the lymphoma came roaring back with a vengeance in September of 2007 and by November of that year, Robert was dead. This all happened the year before I came to Tucson.

Old friends reunited once again. Taken in January, 2015


By the time of Robert's death, my hubby had made a full reversion to the Catholic Church after being an apostate for over 30 years. Despite being homeless, in treatment for opiate addiction, and battling serious health issues, he visited and tried to be with his friend as much as he could. My hubby went to the Wake at a local funeral home, where he was shocked by the horrible job the mortician did of embalming Robert, his actual Requiem Mass at the church the Contreras family belonged to, and then finally the burial. After Robert was buried, my hubby saw his late friend's daughters mourning and how they had come together to see their father off. It made my hubby really miss how he never had a family of his own.

The death of this man was the rebirth of another


What happened next is the stuff of legends. My hubby knelt at Robert's freshly-dug grave and prayed to the Virgin Mary for a wife. As for the kind of wife, my hubby asked for a young, virgin, Catholic Yugoslav if it would be both good for his soul and in keeping with God's Will. Hubby, upon realizing the tall order he'd put in for Our Lord, quickly dismissed the prayer and would forget about it until 2011 when he met me that fateful Sunday morning at Holy Family Catholic Church. We would not cement our relationship until Easter weekend, 2012, and have our civil wedding later that year in November.

The first time hubby and I ever visited Robert's grave together was on January 17, 2015. We'd been participating in the annual March for Life and while the rest of the crowd was marching up to the cemetery, we decided to drive up there so we could be there early and look for Robert's grave. Our daughter's disgraced godfather had been up there about a year earlier, and gave us the general idea of where the grave was. There was no headstone on it, he said, just a marker. Eagerly anticipating the trip, I purchased a vigil candle and a Black and Mild, Robert's favorite cigar to smoke, the previous day so we could leave them at the grave. When we arrived, we walked around the general vicinity but could not find Robert's grave. We then went into the office to ask where it was and the cemetery director personally took us to the grave. It was the first time in years that my hubby had been at his old friend's grave. Parked near the plot were some police SUVs, tasked with providing security for the finishing ceremonies at the cemetery. Given Robert's background, it was hilariously ironic to see where the officers chose to park their cars. Hubby reminisced a bit about the bad old days he had with Robert but assured me that when Robert died, so did the old bad life my hubby had lived before we met. We said some prayers, and left our offerings near the marker. I also took some pictures of the grave and some of the surrounding area so that the next time we visited, we would be able to find Robert's grave again.

Our offerings. Taken January 17, 2015


With Canon Bill's reminder to pray for the deceased in the cemetery, we headed straight over there after Mass. We almost missed the grave because someone else had parked in front of it. But using the pictures I'd taken in January, we were able to locate the grave again. Unfortunately, with money being tight, we didn't get him a candle or Black and Mild. We did say some prayers at the grave, just as Canon Bill reminded us to. It was indeed a fortuitous day to pray for Robert, since it was on this day in 2007 that he died. Last week at our other church, my hubby was inspired to enter Robert's name into the Book of the Dead so that a Mass could be said for him. Canon Bill's announcement confirmed that Robert was in need of prayers. If God allows it, dead people can directly petition the living for prayers. I have no doubt that the Holy Spirit was asking us on behalf of Robert Contreras to pray for him.

The baby meets the man who made her existence possible. We also brought some water to clean off the dust on the marker


And that was how I spent my Sunday

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