Dearest Father Damian,
Please bless me.
Ever since hearing of your diagnosis I have been praying for you daily. I wish you weren’t so far away, and that we could have one more time to visit together. The setting of every conversation we have ever had, in my memory, feels as if it has been on a front porch in a rocking chair. Indeed it might have been on several occasions.
You have always been very dear to me. I vividly remember the first time I ever talked to you. Fr Mark & I had already come several times to the monastery on pilgrimages and other visits for some time, but I was afraid to talk to you. Apart from vague pleasantries exchanged when we visited with our parish, you and I had never spoken.
What I remember as our first conversation began with a nod you gave me when Fr Mark and I came late into one of the services after driving up from Columbia. I noticed your nod, but assumed it was given to the person behind me. Then you nodded again and I thought you were nodding to a person in front of me. After glancing around to see I was the only person in the general direction you were nodding, I smiled and nodded after your third attempt. I was embarrassed, for good reason.
The next day after liturgy you gave me a necklace with a charm of the Virgin which you told me you had put on Her tomb, when you were there only a few months prior to our visit. You told me, “I couldn’t figure out who I should give this to till now.” Then you went on to explain the necklace and a few tales of your trip. I have treasured the necklace and the memory of it ever since. It hangs in my icon corner and makes me think of you and pray for you every time I see it.
I have often thought of you since you visited with us before relocating out west. The children, especially Rose, Ella & Margaret, talk of you as an old and dear family friend. I am sorry that I haven’t been able to talk to you.
Dear Father, I am confident that the Lord has chosen this place for you to spend your remaining days before you go to meet Him. I hope that you will be comforted in the love and prayers of your spiritual children. You have made a strong and lasting impact on my life, and that of my children. Please be at peace and be at rest.
We love you dear Father.
With love and prayers in our Lord,
Matushka Anne Mancuso