I sprayed cleaning spray on the wet patch, threw a towel over the spray and went back to bed. The next morning I checked my facebook; I made a joke about how much I’d like a shopping spree at the thrift store to buy a sofa and a dryer, and didn’t think any more of it. I bused out to the grocery store to get Rose some ibuprofen. At the store, I picked up some on sale Christmas candy– some for Rose and some for the Friendship Room. Rose would scold me if I didn’t pick up a snack for the Friendship Room’s after hours lunch cooler, once a month when we happened to have a little spare pocket cash. Besides, I’d formally asked Saint Nicholas to be my father. I didn’t technically have his answer yet, but the first thing was to try to be like him.
I caught the bus home. I got the ibuprofen and some of the candy into Rose. We snuggled in bed together until her fever broke. Then I checked my Facebook again.
My friend Molly from the Friendship room had seen my status on Facebook. Did we need a dryer and a sofa?
I didn’t even think before responding. Oh no. We weren’t poor anymore, not like that. We have a sofa that serves, and since the dryer broke months ago I got some very nice metal drying racks that can hold a load of laundry right here in the living room.
Then I stopped, and looked up at our “sofa.” It occurred to me that we really didn’t have a sofa, we had a tetanus infection masquerading as a secondhand futon frame Michael had salvaged from a neighbor’s trash, and half of the wires on the bottom were broken. You couldn’t technically sit on any part of it except the far right side, where Rose sat when we watched television; it was more or less a decoration.
I admitted to Molly that we didn’t have a sofa, and couldn’t afford one. We also didn’t have a working dryer, and couldn’t afford one. And we only had one dining room chair, as well. We were so relieved to be in a safe warm house with our rent, food and utilities paid, and a few dollars left over to give to the warming center, that we honestly forgot to notice that we didn’t have furniture.
I took care of Rose all day, singing my little song. Her fever did not return when the medicine wore off. The song remained stuck in my head as we went to bed on the mattress with no proper sheets:
“All who love Nicholas the Saintly,
all who serve Nicholas the Saintly,
him will Nicholas receive,
and give help in time of need,
Holy Father Nicholas!”
The next morning, at seven o’clock, I awoke to the cacophony of Michael dragging our futon and broken dryer out for Bulk Trash. I dozed back off.
At about nine o’clock, I awoke to a stranger’s voice in the front hall, telling Michael that he’d had this used dryer in his barn for years and brought it here when Molly told him we needed it.
At eleven thirty, I opened the door in my pajamas to another total stranger who said that Molly told them we needed a sofa. Would we like this used one they were getting rid of? And would we like some bedding too? I held the box of bedding in stunned silence while they brought in an enormous, delightfully fuzzy gently used sofa.
At two-thirty, just before our ride came to pick us up for Catechism and Divine Liturgy, Molly’s husband arrived with four groovy retro dining room chairs and a sack of ripe pears.
Michael went to the library while we were in Catechism class, where he found that all of his library fines had been expunged as part of the library’s promotional Christmas Fine-Free Week. It was the last day of Fine Free Week; this was the last day that bringing his library card to the library would mean the erasure of all the fines.
After Liturgy, I wandered up to the iconostasis and whispered my prayer to each saint in person. “Saint Nicholas, will you be my father? Saint Basil, will you be my father? Saint John Chrysostom, will you be my father? Saints Cyril and Methodius, will you be my father? Saint John the Baptist, will you be my father?”
Silence and deafening silence. They’d already spoken, after all.
I spread the new bedding onto my mattress– the fanciest sheets I’ve ever owned, bright red like Saint Nicholas’s vestment.
All who love Nicholas the Saintly,
All who serve Nicholas the Saintly,
Him will Nicholas receive,
And give help in time of need,
Holy Father Nicholas.
(Icon of Saint Nicholas via Wikimedia Commons.)