The guilt was killing me, so I decided to go to confession.  I wasn’t exactly a good Catholic or anything.  Mamá tried to get me to Mass every week, but that almost never happened.  I usually pretended I had to work.  We all used to go to church together, the whole family, before Papá got sick, but I hadn’t been all that much since his funeral.

I scouted out the confession schedule beforehand since the only priest I ever felt comfortable talking to was Father Larry.  As soon as I stepped into the confessional, I recognized his Ivory soap-and-peppermint smell.  We went through the usual drill, “Bless me, Father,” “How long since,” etc.  It took me a while to get warmed up, as it had been close to four years, but once I got going I almost couldn’t stop.  I told Father Larry not only about Tony and the baby, but also about my loneliness, how for years I’d longed to meet the right man, fall in love, start a family.  It was something I hadn’t consciously admitted to myself since I was a little girl.  I was a career woman—everyone knew that, especially me.  Yet I heard my whimpers and sobs filling that cramped, musty closet, and somehow they didn’t even disgust me.

“There is no reason for sorrow,” said Father Larry.  “New life is a gift from God, María.  Accept it gladly.”

I smiled in the half-light.

“Now it is important that you take the child’s father as your husband.”

I nodded, though I wasn’t sure he could see me.

“Do you remember how to pray the Rosary?” he asked.

“Of course.”

“Fifty Hail, Marys and ten Our Fathers.”

“Yes, Father Larry.”

“I absolve you from your sins in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”