Wednesday, June 12, 2013

One Week

It's been one week since you left us on this Earth without you. It's not that you had a choice in the matter, of course. Death claimed you that night and there's nothing any of us could have done about that.

What I wish I had done was gone to the hospital earlier in the day Tuesday to wish you well, to pray with you, to say I love you. It wouldn't have changed your death, but maybe it would have brightened your day, maybe it would have left us with more peace and closure.

I squeezed your hand as I left the room that morning. I wanted to know. I have been afraid of death for years now, and it was good for me to be near your body, to feel your skin, to watch as the Priest performed the Last Rites, to see your wife hold tightly onto your hand, to be there for her in that terrible moment. Death is too distant from Americans in the 21st century. We need to be near it. Memento mori. 

The Saturday before your passing St. Perpetua came to me in a dream. She descended from a staircase made of water over a bridge on the Ohio River and I walked up the stairs into her arms. She held me tightly and told me everything was okay and to not be afraid.

I had no idea what was coming for me a few days later. But that night, my faith returned. I went to Mass at a Catholic church. The sermon was lousy, but the music and liturgy and the church were beautiful, and that's why I go to Catholic mass: to feast on the beauty of the Lord (I also find a lot of the theology very beautiful).
"One thing have I asked of the Lord
That I will seek after; 
That I may dwell in the House of the Lord all the days of my life
To behold the beauty of the Lord
And to inquire in His temple."
~Pslam 27

I keep crying at work. I cry a lot of places. I forget and then I remember, and when I remember it's like being punched in the gut, or the throat. My throat gets parched and no amount of water helps.

I've been trying to treasure the relationships you left me. I need to respond to letters, emails and calls. I need to be near them. You never gave up on any of us, by your example help me to not give up one any of them. 

You are teaching us about the importance of relationships. You are the origin of so many of mine! And I refuse to use the past tense about you. Like Catholics and other liturgical traditions, I believe in the communion of Saints, and that God is not a God of the dead, but the living. You are more alive now that you've ever been (O Lord I believe, help my unbelief). Your life on this earth is past tense, but you are not past tense.

I don't know what privileges God grants to His children in Heaven, but I hope you can see us and the impact you're having. I hope you can hear me at night when I sit out on my deck and look up at the stars and talk to you. I hope you can see us gathering around your dear sweet Kate as we sit Shiva with her.

"This can't be happening," is the phrase I repeat to myself a lot, but it is. It is reality, and we are mourning you. Heaven is a bit closer to all of us because you are there. 

I don't know how to end this. No one ever does, I suppose.

1 comment:

  1. I read this and then I wept. Grieving is so difficult. This was a beautiful post, thank you for allowing us all to read it.