Out of Boredom

September 15, 2009


Mary Sunday Brown does not believe in God.

Mary Sunday Brown was born on a Sunday, and was named Mary Sunday Brown for a simple reason: she has a pair of uncreative, devout Catholic as parents. Mary after the Virgin Mary, and Sunday because her parents can’t decide amongst the many saints to name their daughter after. Theodora, Antonia, Benedicta, Eugenia, Bernadette, all have their virtue and they can’t decide which would suit their newborn daughter best. Or whether that daughter will be able live up to the name. So they settle on Sunday.

After all, Sunday is God’s day.

When Mary Sunday Brown was 5 years old, her mother got diagnosed with cancer.

“Bone,” the doctor, a young but cold man with metal-rimmed glasses said, ”Final stadium now, nothing we can do except make you as comfortable as possible. You have two weeks. A month, tops.” With that he left the room, offering no words of comfort.

Hearing this, Mary’s mother turned white as a ghost, and her father immediately left the room. Mary sat on the sofa beside her mother’s hospital bed, playing with the Barbie which used to belong to their neighbor’s daughter, Jill Harris. Jill has grown out of Barbie dolls and has switched onto make up and accessories so Mrs Harris decided to give her dolls to their less blessed neighbor.

The one Mary was playing with was the best looking one, the doll’s hair was still attached although one side was much longer than the other one, the reminder of Jill’s hairdresser phase. Jill has been through a lot of phase, from hairdresser, teacher, scientist, archeologist. She used her dolls as students during her teacher phase, and buried them in sand to dug them out again when she wanted to become an archeologist. I don’t think I need to tell you what happened to the poor dolls when she went through her surgeon phase.

Mary was too young to understand what was going on. So what, her mother was sick? She’s gonna get a few shots and she’ll be good as new. Mary hated shots. They hurt. The nurses who gave them always say they didn’t, but they did.

Her parents were desperate. But only for a day. The next day her father went to their church and asked that Mrs. Brown be prayed for by the congregation. For the next two weeks letters arrived telling Mrs. Brown to hold on, that the Lord is going to get her through all this. Phone-calls came telling her that thousands of people prayed for her in last Sunday’s mass and thousands more will pray for her in the next mass. Flowers, too, came, bearing “Get Well Soon” cards and notes of encouragements. Color slowly returned to her mother’s feature.

Mary asked her mother what is wrong with her, and her mother replied that she is sick, but not to worry, for their Father in heaven is going to make her all better.

“And then after I’m all better, we will spend everyday together. We can bake cupcakes, go to museums, or anything you like.”

Reverend Smith came to visit Mary’s mother on a Saturday. He was middle-aged and fatherly, with a kind voice that will get you to confess your deepest, darkest sins when you went into confession with him. The priest thought about what he was going to say to the dying lady. The doctor has said that she only have a month to live, tops. That was two weeks ago. So she’ll probably die within the next two weeks. The priest prayed for guidance while walking to Mrs. Brown’s room.

Turned out he didn’t have to worry about what to say to the dying lady. She was doing all the talking. She gushed about the letters and phone-calls and flowers that she received and how that strengthens her.

“A Mrs. Long called and said that the congregation was praying for me last Sunday. And the Bible study, too, every night. You have no idea what that means to me, father. I felt strong. I felt the Lord beside me. I felt that I can beat this. You know?”

The reverend led a prayer and then he left, thanking the Lord for this show of faith, so strong, by so sick a woman. Mrs. Brown look so thin, and so clearly in pain from the tumor growing in her bones, but she still have faith.

She died the next day on Sunday, God’s day, and Mary’s faith died with her.


I was at church last Sunday when the priest was talking about— wait…what was he talking about again?


So anyway…, he was telling this story about his visit to a woman who was hospitalized. He didn’t what to say to her, her illness was serious, he said, and he kept praying all the way, asking guidance to say something that will give her some spirit.

He shouldn’t have worried, he said, because the moment the woman saw him, she started babbling. About the calls and visits she received and how they strengthen them. How they convince her that she’ll be just fine.

I remember at that precise moment I thought about how ironic it will be if she died the next day.

Yes, I am that sceptical.


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