Sblog book coverhe was a famous movie star, yet she craved a sort of redemption, longing for recognition and admiration from those who had ignored her in her childhood. I hope that wherever Marilyn now rests, she knows that her redemption lives on in the adulation of millions who are still mesmerized by her brief life in this world. Shimmering like a candle in the wind; a candle that made life shine brighter for so many. I believe that the fundamental essence of Marilyn, of all of us, is neither created nor destroyed, but exists in timelessness, forever tethered to the mystery of God.  I believe that the essence of the many selves that Marilyn, Joey, and I lived remains  woven together like a tapestry. Despite Marilyn’s demons, her contribution to the tapestry of life is legendary. Joey, at fifty-seven, also surrendered to an isolated life and premature death, facilitated by booze and pills. Yet his legacy lives on in the daughters that he adopted and who became such a source of joy to Joey’s father, Joe Sr. Joey exposed me to a whole new world of possibilities, for which I will be forever grateful. I can only hope that the threads of my life will extend far and wide and add to the beauty of this unfolding tapestry. We cannot help but leave indelible footprints on the hearts of those who have loved us. I pray that my own lingering footprints will rest lightly. My longed-for redemption never came in any of the ways that I had imagined it would. Not one of those relationships with others that I thought might redeem me ever fulfilled that craving in the depth of my soul. Yet, somehow—through the patching and weaving together of all these lives—it has been done. I look into a mirror, into my own eyes, and see that redemption has come. I live and thrive encircled in the certainty  that I am completely and unconditionally redeemed. Curiously,this redeemed state of soul has not erased all my frailties and weaknesses. I am still as imperfect a human being as it is possible to be, but with one extraordinary change: I now see, that after all my desperate pursuits of a“pardon” from life, it has been in coming home to myself and rejoicing in the diversity of me that I am redeemed. Finally, I know that the many-sided prism that I have come to recognize in my self is the totality of the me I was intended to be. Today, I see that through all the years and all there relationships and all the parts I’ve played and roles I’ve filled, I am still the “ragamuffin”who loves simple, filling, cheapfoods like mashed potatoes with mounds of butter and a glass of cold milk. But I am a rich ragamuffin—rich in the horrors and the blessings that have been the mold from which I have been formed. Even now, as I finish this story of my quest for acceptance and redemption, Mary sits just a few feet away, holding out her arms in a gesture that invites me to surrender my self in to her love, just as Grandma used to do during her nightly prayer ritual. The light is caught in the prisms of the glass beads of my grandma’s rosary where it hangs, draped around Mary’s neck. I love them—the rosary, the statue, and Grandmother’s memory. And I love red lipstick and cleavage, even though cancer left me with only one breast to push up and show off. Broken ragdoll, patched and finally loved by me, I am—Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!—truly redeemed at last.

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The Many Faces of a Ragdoll Redeemed
It’s Finished, It’s Finished!