February 25, 2011

Emmaus Walk / Debra Tomaselli

Keeping the eternal perspective in life every day

Debra TomaselliI almost didn’t write a column this month. An unexpected event disrupted my life and stole my energy. It happened on a Sunday, and I discovered it as I was leaving Mass.

My whole family was gathered for Grandma’s visit. We attended Mass and chatted with friends afterward.

By the time we were leaving, only a few cars remained in the parking lot. As we approached my van, we noticed a police car parked nearby. The officer was talking to a couple whose car was parked kitty-corner to mine.

Unfazed, I unlocked the driver’s door of my vehicle then I heard my daughter exclaim that our passenger-side window was shattered. Immediately, I yanked open my door and searched for my purse, which had been under the seat. It was gone.


Dazed, I turned to the police officer. She nodded. “I’ll be right with you,” she said.

Officer Kelly finished her report for the owners of the other vehicle, which, like mine, had been broken into and a purse stolen. She offered a sympathetic look and handed me a sheet of paper.

“Write a list of everything they took,” she suggested.

Generally, my purse contains nothing more than my wallet. But my wallet is a compact, concise package of pertinent paperwork. Not only did it contain my sole credit card, debit card, blank checks and driver’s license, it also included my Social Security card. These thieves hit the jackpot!

Officer Kelly returned and studied my list. “Was there anything else in your purse?” she asked. “List everything you can remember.”

I thought for a second. … There was one more thing. … What was it? I pondered the question, and suddenly remembered. It was my glasses. I normally wear contacts, but I keep my glasses nearby.

As the thought arose, a lump in my throat surfaced, pushed by a flood of emotion.

I glanced at the officer. “I’m sorry,” I stammered as the tears spilled from my eyes.

Suddenly, the theft felt personal, like the perpetrators weren’t just stealing something, but they had taken something from me.

“That just kind of makes me sad to think that somebody would do that,” I said.

A great sadness consumes me. Could someone really be that distorted or uncaring about what is right and what is wrong? What can we do to make a difference in the life of someone without direction?

I’ve had a week of discussions with detectives, bank officials and credit bureaus as the thieves made their rounds from one bank branch to another, trying to withdraw money from my account. They are persistent and sophisticated.

Fear, of course, hovers over my emotions. Not only fear of theft, but fear of safety, too. But I’ll be OK. I’ve lost something, but not what they have lost.

And in the end, I know what really matters.

“Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; fear him rather who can destroy both body and soul in hell” (Mt 10:28).

(Debra Tomaselli lives in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Her column appears in several diocesan newspapers. Her e-mail address is dtomaselli@cfl.rr.com.)

Local site Links: