Heartprints.  If you have a been a fan or a reader here at Chuvachienes.com, you would know that I am a solid Oprah fan.  I’ve faithfully watched Oprah when her talk show was on and even followed and watched her on OWN when she launched her network.  I no longer subscribe to cable television so I haven’t seen her for a while.  I do however, have the 25th anniversary DVDs and started re-watching the episodes last night starting with disc one.

One part of the first disc is called heartprints.  It’s a collection of the people who were guests on her show that made an impression on her so much that it created a heartprint.  There were several people including Mattie Stepanek, a then 10-year old boy suffering from muscular dystrophy.  I watched the boy in the segment and his energy radiated across the screen.  He wrote 5 best-selling poetry books and he is regarded as a poet, a writer and information is being collected about his life to be considered for canonization in the Catholic church for his message of peace.  By watching him, you can tell that he was extraordinary.  Nothing in him was ordinary.  I know now how people make heartprints.  I have a few of my own.

Back in 1986, when I was still a teen, I met a person through the personal ads in the Village Voice.  His name is Ralph Rosenberg.  He was a very handsome young man, probably close to my age yet a few years older.  We corresponded for a couple of years and spoke on the phone many times.  We formed a really good friendship despite the fact that we haven’t met in person.  He lived about five hours away from me.  I lived in Maryland and he lived in New York City.

Like Mattie Stepanek, Ralph can light up a room.  His energy was radiant and I could feel it as he spoke to me or when I read his letters.  He is filled with joy and a positive attitude.  We would always talk about how he loved football and laugh hours on end just talking about silly stuff.  I believe he was 24-years old at the time.  We formed a very good friendship over time.  He was adopted by Jewish parents when he was a baby but he didn’t mind it.  He loved his parents very much and he was openly gay.  His parents loved him the same.

One day as I was at work, I slipped and fell.  I hurt my back so my doctor advised me to stay off work for a couple of months.  However, I decided not to go back to work.  I decided to go to New York and start fresh.  I was already living in New York for about a month of two when I decided that maybe it was time for me to meet Ralph.  I called him and a lady answered the phone.  “Good morning!”, I said.  “May I speak with Ralph please?”.

The lady on the other line seemed confused but she politely asked me, “When was the last time you spoke to Ralph my dear?”   “About a couple of months ago, I think.”, I muttered.  “Oh, I am very sorry dear but Ralph passed away last Friday.”

To my surprise, I couldn’t say a word but the phrase, “I am very sorry!”.  The lady replied, “So am I dear, so am I.”  There was nothing I could say but thank you and good bye.  I stared at the wall for a good two minutes.  I couldn’t believe it.  It was so unexpected.

Ever since then, every Sunday when I go to mass, I lift his name in prayer during the prayer for the faithful.  Ralph Rosenberg left a heartprint.  I will never forget him for as long as I live.

I know that he’s watching over me as well.

Maybe someday – when all is said and done, we shall meet again.  Someday.


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