Out of the most trying times came the words to Vicky Mariconde's gospel songs
By Jim Shelton, Register Staff
POSTED: 04/16/11, 12:00 AM EDT
WEST HAVEN -- Vicky Mariconde has been to the deepest, darkest depths of grief and come back singing.
Hers is a story of faith conquering pain. It is about confronting a crushing loss and eventually finding a way forward.
It's a story many people share -- just not in such a public way.
Her pain made the papers. Her husband, Larry Mayes, who worked at City Hall and was a popular member of the community, died on Oct. 5, 2005. Mariconde had come downstairs that morning and found his body. He'd had a heart attack.
In the years since that awful moment, Mariconde has emerged stronger in mind and spirit. This Palm Sunday and Easter season find her counseling widows, leading projects at her church and releasing a CD of gospel music inspired by her experiences.
"Vicky turned her pain into ministry," says Ken Vance, senior pastor at Living Word Ministries in West Haven, where Mariconde is a member. "She took what could have shipwrecked her and found her voice within it. She found more in her, through God's grace." To be sure, Mariconde's life has taken several sharp turns.
She says she and Mayes were inseparable as a couple. They'd started dating in 1989, became born again Christians in 1992, were baptized together and married in 1993. "I always thought he was the cat's meow," says Mariconde, 54, a medical transcriptionist at Yale-New Haven Hospital. "Everyone loved him."
Mayes was 54 when he died. A retired U.S. Air Force master sergeant, he had worked for the telephone company before taking a job as assistant to then-Mayor H. Richard Borer Jr. "Larry was healthy by every appearance," she says. "He was thin, an outdoors guy. Always played basketball in school."
Six months earlier, he told her his vision seemed suddenly blurry; they went to the ER and tests found nothing out of the ordinary. His vision returned to normal and regular life resumed. Or so they thought.
When he died, "all I could say was, 'God, this cannot be happening,'" she says. "I stood right there in that corner and prayed, 'Bring him back.'" Friends, family and coworkers filled her house on Canton Street for days after that. Mariconde says she was in a fog, emotionally anesthetized by shock and by the arrangements that had to be made.
But then the shock wears away and the real hurt comes calling.
You are left with this open, gaping wound," she recalls. "Everybody's grief process is different, but probably for a year, it would take nothing at all to trigger the tears."
Yet something else was set in motion, as well. Song lyrics popped into her head -- first in tiny increments and later in sentences. It was something Larry had encouraged her to do, but without success. "He'd always say, 'Don't sing someone else's songs. Sing your own songs,'" she explains. "He would write poetry, and it would just come easily to him. But lyrics didn't come to me at all, until God poured words into me." These were songs of faith prevailing through hardship. She says they sustained her as she worshipped, as she worked and as she continued the walks along the beach that she and Larry had taken so often.
Actually, that's where she got to know John Mariconde. He was also a member at Living Word. He saw her walking along the beach in West Haven several times before asking if he might walk with her. They married in 2008.
"He's so supportive of my dream," Mariconde says. That dream is a 14-song CD, "Still I Know," available for about $13 at www.vickymariconde.com.
It was three years in the making, starting as extended jam sessions at her house with keyboard player Tim Johnson, producer and bass guitarist Asa "Ace" Livingston and guitarist Jonathan Dubose Jr.
Arnold Gold/Register photo: Gospel singer Vicky Mariconde of West Haven, a member of Living Word Ministries, created a 14-song CD, "Still I Know."