Rachel's post to her mother made me cry. Why is it that it's only when someone dies that we really celebrate them? I'm so guilty of finding my mother annoying more often than finding her to be a treasure. Currently I'm struggling with her life of self-indulgence. Her and my father are on their 9th vacation in the past 12 months, which is fine...they are "enjoying their retirement" which is the American Dream, it's just tough to muster up the whole "Oh, guys I'm SOOOO happy that you're finally going to have a nice vacation/cruise/trip to thailand to get some deserved rest and recreation" like, every other frickin' week. So parents are supposed to be annoying, right? Yes they make me crazy, but the thing is if my mind ever drifts toward the eventuality of their deaths, I freak out. I cannot imagine life without them. Is there a way to cherish parents and loved ones in Real Time?
Tuesday I'll be in Minneapolis attending the funeral of Natalie, wife of Mark from Mercy Seat and mother of an 8 and 2 year old. I prayed for her healing every day for 10 months...fervently. Here's a piece of what Mark said in his e-mail about her passing:
The grief overwhelms. But, strangely, it is bit by bit. Grief comes in
sharp, stab-me-in-the-gut-and-twist-the-knife-in moments, stretched out over
laughter and memory and gratitude. We keep forgetting; assuming she is there to help us.
We keep thinking that, especially in these times of utter confusion, we can
simply ask her what to do next--and then we suddenly realize that she is not
here. She was so filled with wisdom, and clarity, and was so very decisive and
confident about what to do next. That's what made her a great physician, a
great mom, and (most of the time--o.k., all the time, in retrospect) a great life-partner.
We are grieving. There is no other way to put it. It hurts.
But we have profoundly deep comforts:
We have this story of Jesus and his passion, which Christians
throughout the world are observing now, during lent; this Jesus who so
deeply entered into our sorrow, our suffering, our flesh. Natalie's
passion has mirrored the passion of Christ. The stories intertwine.
And, per the wisdom of one of my colleagues, I can't help but think of
Natalie's death as a sort of transfiguration--she is being changed into
the body of Christ. Her body is becoming the body of Christ. Even, and
especially, now, in her rotting, decomposing flesh. Christians
confess the resurrection of the dead, and I've never believed in it
more. But Christians also confess that Jesus was "conceived by the
Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried; and he descended to the dead." To
me, right now, that's an even more profound confession than the
resurrection. God is with us. Even, and
especially, in Natalie's rotting, discolored, lifeless flesh. Maybe
that's mostly where God is, working yet another sneaky subversive
surprise. God's audience: the worms and the dirt and all things that
till the thawing soil beneath us.
No matter what we do, we can't seem to shake these amazing friends who would
do anything to comfort and help us. Every gesture, every thought, every
prayer--we are so deeply grateful.
Pray for those who love this woman.
Cherish those you love.
I'll try and do the same.