Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Bittersweet: A time to mourn and give thanks...

Next week is a hard time for me. Every first week in May will always be a trying and somewhat difficult time because of the memories of loss and what seemed at the time, the superhuman effort it took to do all the things and face all the things that I had to in 2005.

I speak of an 81st birthday and its time so short-lived three days later. Of my 46th birthday and Mothers' Day on the same day, without the mother who had me and that we normally celebrated. Of officiating at my mother's graveside service the next spring day, when the wind moved during the committal and I felt the Spirit moving all around me--us--as we laid her in the grave. The sun was shining and there were dark clouds in the west. The grass, springing up green in the joy of Eastertide, and the wind, rising and falling, hollowing and amplifying my words as I read them, dressed in white alb, black cincture, purple stole--the one I would wear as a hospital chaplain administering sacraments, and those murmured prayers for the dying, my shoes off outside the hospital room door, walking on sacred ground. And then there I was, walking on sacred ground once more.

My niece had carried the processional candle, leading the casket to the grave as I intoned the words of the burial office. She held the shell-shaped dish of holy water as I circled the grave and blessed it with a sprig of rosemary from home. It was the hardest day of my life. But one I am so thankful for and would do again and again for the privilege to show my last act of devotion to she who bore me, and almost died in doing so. To forgive the imperfections and honor the sacred in her. She brought me to know Jesus at a young age and when things happened that I didn't understand, she would tell me that life is this way, and though we may not understand why things happen, God will always show us and make known to us wisdom when we are ready for it, if not now, then later in life, and all will become clear.

It has been an adjustment for me, these last two years, from the routine of the previous 15 years of gradually increasing and complicated care-giving to her passing to eternal life in Christ. Yes we were close, shared many of the same interests and opinions, and we also went many places together of mutual interest. Gardening was a passion we both shared, and I decorated her hospice room with flowers, wreaths of twigs and branches, hastily woven together and adorned with dried flowers and leaves, moss and seashells, smooth driftwood and sprinkled with ocean sand.

So, you see, my memories are very sharp, as if it had all happened yesterday. I will post this as a memorial to her and how she helped cultivate in me the person I am today, and let it be for a while until after May 9th, when the remembering and emotions are calmer and less vivid, when the pain is dulled again by time until next year. But I will be all right. I know exactly where to find her at the end of time, and its not the grave.


"A lovely Lady,
Garmented in light,
From her own beauty."
~ Percy Bysshe Shelley~


swandive said...

Peace peace and more peace to you, from one motherless daughter to another.

Seething Mom said...

My dearest Catherine, that was such a beautiful tribute to your beloved mother. I cannot imagine how difficult these past 2 years have been for you. Your relationship with your mother sounds so much like my relationship with my own mother. Your profoundly beautiful post made me stop and think of how much she means to me.

I try never to take for granted our time together, but reading your words just now only heightened my sense of urgency to call her and tell her how much I love her.

Thank you for sharing such an intimate part of yourself with us.


Eileen said...


I can only imagine the pain you are feeling at this time. May God hold you within the warmth of his healing embrace as you pass through this time of grief.

You and your mom are in my prayers, dear one.

We Do It Too said...

prayers for you as you continue to grieve and give thanks. what a beautiufl post. thank you for writing it. blessings in this time...

Magdalene6127 said...

(((Catherine+))). What a powerful post, and a beautiful and moving witness to your faith in the resurrection. I have a post that feels strangely twinned with this one, though my point is quite different.

Peace, friend, and thank you for sharing these sharp and sweet memories.


Jane R said...

Dear Catherine, Thanks for this moving tribute to your mother. These anniversaries are indeed bittersweet. I pray that you will find comfort in memory and know how much your mother lives in you. Peace and blessings to you, sister.

Catherine + said...

With all the tender care I receive here, I know I will make it these next days. After all, such Christ-like love is undefeatable. Namaste to each and everyone of you, my sisters.



ivan said...

I'm sorry for your loss. My mother has advanced ALS and this may very well be the last Mother's Day I have with her. Also, I had two cats, littermates, one of them passed in November and now one will go through their 16th birthday alone for the first time this May, so it will be a hard month for me, too.

Catherine + said...

Ivan, I shall keep you and your mom in my prayers. Losing a pet is on a different but very similar level to losing a child. I understand you anguish all too well. If you can, I encourage you to spend lots of quality time with you mom; read her poetry or a good book aloud; bring her lots of flowers and let her listen to your stories or hers, if she can still speak; break out the photos and remember everything you can with her. I did these things with my mom in her last month.

She could not speak from the last devastating stroke but she could hear me and her expressions said more than words could say. And when words were spent, all we could do was gaze into on another's eyes and in that gaze, say what words could never say, I love you.

Karin said...

A beautiful post. May you experience God's embrace and comforting presence, Catherine.

Catherine + said...

Karin, thank you. Your words and those of others bring me great comfort and solace. I am knowing a greater peace through the care expressed here. I do miss her so...we could talk about anything, and she always made time for me, and even when she would not always agree with me, she listened fully all the same. Peace to you, Karin.

Connie+ said...

Thinking of you Catherine in the midst of your difficult week. Prayers for your comfort.

Reverend Dona Quixote said...

I'm glad I found this witness to the faith you and your mom shared. God bless you.