The year 2003 was a rough one for me and my family. My father passed away in July of that summer. My uncle died a month later and then my aunt died two months after that. There were times I would go to work in a weird fog and not be able to shake it. I worked in the Old Town area and one of the only ways of coping with it all was to go for walks at lunch time. I would walk around Tiguex Park. I would sometimes go with a friend to the Rio Grande Nature Center and walk full speed for an hour. Sometimes I would just wander around Old Town. It is amazing how many times I've wandered around Old Town over the years and thought I'd seen everything there was to see. I know stores and restaurants have come and gone, but I thought I knew all there was to know about Old Town. So how is it I had never seen or been to the place that was to be my ultimate healing place that year?
One day that summer I wandered into a store called Saints and Martyrs. As I walked out of the store and started heading toward an antique shop, I noticed something I had never noticed before. If you've spent any time in Old Town you know there are little passageways between buildings that lead to other cool shops and restaurants. I noticed there was a gate that lead to the backside of the Albuquerque Museum. I'd never been through there and figured it would be a good shortcut back to work. But as I walked toward the gate I discovered a tiny, unassuming square box of a building off to the side. The door was open and I ducked under the low doorway and walked in. What was this little place? Well it was no surprise to me that the best information I've ever found about this place was a post written by our very own Johnny Mango on Duke City Fix back in 2005. This little building is called La Capilla de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe. Please read the wonderful post by Johnny and learn about the chapel and Sister Giotto Moots. (There is a wealth of information in our Archives!)
After reading about Sister Giotto I now know why I felt so drawn to the chapel. For several weeks after I discovered it I would make excuses to co-workers and friends as to why I couldn't go to lunch with them. I would walk as fast as I could to get to my little sanctuary to cry or just be alone. It occurs to me that I was never interrupted by another human being there that summer. I don't think I was ready to find this place before the summer of 2003.
A few more family members have passed away in the last couple of years - two cousins and another uncle. My place of solace has not let me down. And if you go to La Capilla de Nuestra Senora de Guadalupe, you may see what is left of candles I have burned. You may even find a tear or two.
This post is written in loving memory of Alfonso, Ramon, Maria de la Paz, Danny, Ellen, and Tino. I miss you.