My mother passed away recently, and after several days of attending to the affairs, things have gotten somewhat back to normal. I spent last night taking care of neglected housework, and went back to work this morning for the first time in a week. Along with this return to routine has come a deep sense of reflection, on my life, on hers, and especially on the events of the past few days. I’m just going to share a few of them.
Due to the extenuating circumstances, I ended up having to go to the county medical examiner’s office to make a positive ID. Without a doubt, I can say it was the hardest and most horrible thing I’ve ever had to do. My grandfather drove, which was a blessing because I was a bit messed up. Thanks to some freeway construction, we ended taking a bit of an alternate route, which took us past Blessed Sacrament Cathedral in Detroit. Although I grew up in the city, I’m really not that familiar with the inner-city and downtown areas, so on the way I was glad to see it purely from the standpoint of knowing where it was if I ever wanted to attend Mass there. Afterwards, we came back the same way, and the experience was completely different. A voice, clear as if it had been spoken out loud, came into my mind and said “See, even in this I am with you.” I was speechless for the rest of the ride. I still have trouble putting into words what I felt at that moment. Peace? Courage?
Thursday of last week was the funeral service. My mother was baptized in the Catholic Church, but had not actively practiced any faith in many years. Grandma, who describes herself as non-denominational and born-again, took control of the arrangements and had her pastor conduct everything at the funeral home. He spoke very lovingly and was a great comfort to all the family and friends that assembled. As I listened, again I felt that God was speaking to me, or at least revealing something of His Plan to me. I was away from the Church for the better part of 20 years, until I started to feel myself drawn back around the end of 2006 and beginning of 07. Suddenly it became so clear to me that the timing seemed perfect, as if He knew I would be needing Him. I mean, of course He knew, but it makes so much more sense to me know why I felt what I felt when I felt it, if that makes any sense.
I asked to be able to speak, because I knew Grandma and Grandpa would not be able to, and I felt strongly that someone should. But I was worried. My mother and I did not have the typical relationship. It’s a long story, and I’m talking too much anyway. I put off writing anything until that morning, convinced I wouldn’t have anything to say. Four pages later, I realized that we had loved each other, and we had memories together, and that was more than enough to say.
Friday, the day after the funeral, was the Feast of the Assumption. Had I been working, I would have gone to evening Mass, but since I was taking the full time that work gave me, I went in the morning. It didn’t hit me until Father said the words “Mary, our mother” for the first time. My mother’s name was Mary. I honestly felt like someone had punched me. I wanted to leave. I didn’t want to keep hearing that name over and over. I couldn’t take it. I fought the feeling and made it through the readings and Gospel, but I kept thinking I was going to be sick. I know now that it was a physical attack, but at the time I was just confused. Then Father came down to give the homily, and the first words I remember were “Mary, our mother, taken into Heaven.” He actually gave a wonderful sermon about how Mary points us to Jesus, and how it’s Him that we are glorifying. Anyone who ever questions or criticizes us for “worshiping” Mary should listen to it, he captured the point so well. I’m amazed I even heard it, though. All I could think about was the whole point of the day. “Mary, our mother, taken into Heaven.” Those were the words I needed to hear, the comfort that brought the week to a close with a sense of hope and, in a way, joy, instead of the sadness that had started it. Everything for His Glory, everything according to His Will. I might have even left Mass smiling, and I wasn’t sure that was possible going in.
Sorry for the length. I’m not sure if I even had a point here. I just wanted to share. So many times, I think we want God to rattle the heavens and the earth to speak to us, or to reveal Himself. Yet every time I was silent, and contemplative, and simply did what was asked of me, those were the times when I heard the loudest and the most profound truths.