I’ve been thinking a lot about our present situation as a separated yet unified, prayerful people of God. Strife tends either to join people or divide them—there really isn’t an in-between. I thought of decades of experiences that have united me with others as a child of God.
When my mother was dying, I was pregnant with my son, Greg. As her health deteriorated, his little body grew stronger. Surrounded by illness at the hospital during her chemo sessions, I was reminded that he would soon be delivered into this world at that same place of death. He was my hope in life when life was being lost before my eyes. I lifted my eyes toward heaven more during that time of strife than I had in quite some time. I begged God to heal my mother, and later to embrace her when I came to terms with her death. The great sorrow that takes hold when you realize that death is inevitable is tempered only by the thought that life is still moving forward. That’s where I was in May, 2001. My mother had died, and my son would be born soon. We were surviving life and death. I was poignantly reminded of this time while reflecting on the passion and death of Jesus this past Good Friday, knowing his death would soon be transformed in his glorious resurrection on Easter Sunday.
When Greg was a tiny newborn nestled in my arms, we got the news that a national disaster had occurred in New York and then later in Washington D. C. Death was at the forefront of every news report, and fear gripped the nation. Faith in humanity was rekindled by the responses of the faithful, the helpers, and the defenders. We prayed more as a people and prioritized life once again. The hope I held in my arms kept my eyes focused on life rather than death. This son of mine helped me to know that God was with us, and I was at peace in an unstable world.
Raising Greg was a true challenge of motherhood for me. He was rough and tumble. He would injure himself by living life to the fullest, and I would suffer with him. He would challenge me with the same stubbornness that I genetically passed on to him myself! We knocked heads and locked horns more than any other child of my womb. As he grew, he was my pride and joy and the thorn in my side. I loved him with my whole wounded heart. He taught me that I needed to die to myself and live for my vocation. With much prayer and deep love, we survived life together.
Not too long ago I found myself in a dark place in life. My grief was debilitating, and the sorrow in my heart was piercingly sharp. Times were truly tough. As I laid curled in a ball weeping, my beloved son embraced me and said, “I love you, Mom. It’s going to be okay.” The vessel of my dying-to-self had become the light in my darkness. The thorn in my side was now my crown of comfort. God gives us life and hope in miraculous ways.
Once again, death is at the forefront of every news report. The Pandemic of 2020 finds me dying to my worldly dreams of a big graduation party, sports banquet awards, trendy senior pictures of my son, and proud mama announcements being mailed out. Life has been transformed with ongoing prayers lifted up, virtual Masses, spiritual Communions, Facebook family Rosaries, novenas, and Divine Mercy chaplets. Together as a prayerful family we are surviving, and I am again reminded that even in death, life overcomes the darkness.