My best friend, Pat, and I started planning our Christmas in New York City adventure in September. It was a trip we both needed to exorcise the past and kick-start our tomorrows in the only way New York does Christmas! I knew this because Pat was raised in New York City. And, if Pat says it’s so, then it is.

We excitedly planned, budgeted and reserved our dream trip. Pat wanted to visit her yesterdays while experiencing the joy on my face upon seeing “the tree” and The Radio City  “Christmas Spectacular”… both firsts for me. I absolutely had to immerse myself in the surreal experience of Manhattan’s Christmas crowds, traffic, lights, noise and pure unadulterated insanity to remove the pain of not having a “real” Christmas in my life for the last sixteen years.

So, when Pat emailed me over Thanksgiving weekend that her right eye had serious problems and that she probably needed emergency eye surgery, I was physically and mentally sick for her, first, and then for myself. New York is NOT a place I would have chosen to fly to alone. I’d been there three times before with a native twenty or so years ago. It was not a friendly place then.

I know. It sounds CRAZY that a woman who drives alone camping her way across this country would be freaked out by going to New York alone, but it was real and also temporary. My lovely daughter reminded me of my own words when she had to fly there to audition for Cirque a few years ago. I recovered quickly and started to pack knowing this was going to be a chance of a lifetime… and it was!

It was during the packing process that I decided to take my largest suitcase and take EVERYTHING that would make me feel “warm and fuzzy”. I filled that suitcase up! I would have to pay to check a suitcase anyway so my only constraint was keeping it under fifty pounds!

The day before I left, I woke up with a horribly inflamed tendon in my heel/ankle area. I was in so much pain during the night I thought I was going to be sick. I arranged for a last-minute doctor appointment on my way to the airport and got some anti-inflammatory. Thank God, it worked enough for me to hobble around by the time I landed in New York.

Upon landing, I sought out our prepaid shuttle service to the hotel. All the drivers on that service called in “sick”! I had to arrange for new transportation and protest the charge of the original shuttle. American Express is the only way to go. They were absolutely wonderful and reversed the charge immediately while investigating my complaint. Hearing Krystal’s southern accent at American Express was soothing to my soul and she handled this remarkably efficiently. I didn’t have to try to understand a thickly trained American wanna-be accent. That would have put me over the edge at that point!

Lesson? Never pre-book shuttle service to your airport. Simply go to the “Welcome Center” to find one who has drivers! Also, I’ve been told my several people that Orbitz is a NIGHTMARE to deal with regarding wrongful charges like this reversed. Again. For emphasis… use American Express and it won’t matter who books your trip!

At the front desk of the Beekman, I heard another guest discussing their rate which was $75.00 a night cheaper than mine. Hmmmm. Those lower rates were NOT options on the Orbitz website. I’ll be a little more careful with my next bookings!

I got to the Beekman Tower Place, checked in and headed our to find “the tree”. After all, it was our plan. I was told to walk up 49th Street and turn right onto 5th Avenue. I did what every person with A.D.D. does… I got lost in my walk but did manage to turn right at the Saks building. It was then I saw Saint Patrick’s Cathedral. It was all I could see. After all, my personal destination focus because of the Pietà sculpture there.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral next to Saks.

The choir was practicing their Christmas program while I strolled around admiring the variations of art in the alcoves.

Then… there it was.

Pieta in St. Patrick’s Cathedral NY, NY

More moving today than twenty years ago because now I “know”… I know how horrible it is to have a child murdered. That, alone, was enough to bring tears for Mary and for myself. (see earlier post entitled “My son’s eyes”).

Pieta – Mary holding her son, the crucified Christ

Seeing this mother holding her dead son brought the memory burned into my soul of my dream when Carl (my son) came to me at 8:00 A.M. on September 11, 1999. My eighteen-year-old son was sitting in my lap looking down at my face. I could feel the weight and heat of his body on my legs and his breath on my face as we exchanged all the love, acceptance, understanding and forgiveness that had to wait for over a decade… all transpired within a millisecond in perfect, complete telepathic communication.

As this memory flashed like lightning through my mind, I “knew” Carl “knew” how I felt about this statue and that’s why he came to me on September 11, 1999. It was equally remarkable the story of our “finding” Carl after fifteen years aired on Lifetime channel’s “Beyond Chance” on September 11, 2000. I knew it was a “resounding” of a familiar note on the piano. Ding. Ding.

Seeing this sculpture rang this note again reconnecting me with my child, my faith and my family. There was no coincidence Carl chose 9/ll to come to me so that one day I would connect the dots in my favorite city to visit my favorite cathedral housing my favorite sculpture. Thank you Carl.

I tore myself away from the sculpture to find the right alcove to light a candle for my dear friend Pat, who had just had emergency surgery the day before. And, there it was… by the Nativity scene.

Pat’s candle top right

I really don’t get why I should pay $2.00 for this 2¢ candle for the Lord’s  blessing to heal my best friend but it was important for me do go through the exercise out of respect for Pat and her faith.

St. Patrick’s Nativity Scene

I was mesmerized by the whole St. Patrick’s experience and went promptly out of the door leading me down the street (unbeknownst to me) in the wrong direction! Along my journey, I felt “pushed” into a chocolate shop. I don’t eat chocolate as a rule however I do believe in the principles of the Celestine Prophecy so I didn’t fight it. It turned out to be Godiva Chocolates! How could I resist Pat’s telepathic request for such a purchase?

I had three free samples for dinner that night. What the heck? I was on an adventure and, after all, it was something I’d never done before so it was protocol!

As I turned down 50th Street, I saw some trees ablaze with white lights… and there it was… all glorious, huge and brilliant. Click. Click. Click went my shutter as if it was taking photos without the help of my finger. It was all Pat said it would be!

Is “the tree” in there somewhere?

As I got closer to Rockefeller Center, I saw the ice skating rink below with lots of people freezing their fannies off skating in circles to hokey Christmas music. It was WONDERFUL!

Ice skating rink below “the tree” at Rockefeller Center

So, what IS that strange gold male looking figure floating under the tree anyway?

I found an alley out of the rink area back toward 5th Avenue and Saks which looked interesting. And, boy was it ever! I stopped and looked up at the loudly clicking 18th Century “gears” ticking away the seconds anticipating a show to be displayed on the side of the Saks building. I’m so glad I waited! Windows lit up and “opened” and “closed” to Victorian sounds. Pipes became French Horns; snow came floating down eventually resting on the window ledges; bubbles floated from the horns; pure magic.

Saks show… promises of things to come
Saks… French horns
Saks… finale