I recognized that whatever God does will endure forever;
there is no adding to it, or taking from it. Ecclesiastes 3:14
While visions of last night’s fireworks linger in my memory, so do my memories of a dear friend who left our company just after our July 4th revelry some years ago…
John had battled cancer for months. After completing chemotherapy, John’s doctors, family and friends felt certain that his future was secure. He was a good man and a good priest. His life made all of the difference in the world to each of us. He’d managed far more difficult challenges than this illness.
With this good news to inspire me, I headed to my computer to get a letter off to John. He’d been recuperating at his brother’s home where he was a captive fan. I mailed him a letter and these reflections each week. Since July 4th approached, I wished John a generous measure of freedom with which to get on with his life. My litany began with “…freedom from illness, freedom to breathe in as deeply as you want to –with no pain! I wish you freedom from chemotherapy and I wish you hair! I wish you the freedom to get back to the people and the work you love and the freedom to come and to go as you please.”
John never read that letter. He returned to the hospital the day after its writing. His struggle to breathe had become too much. A drug-induced coma failed to restore his lungs. When pneumonia set in, John couldn’t fight it. John let go of this life to embrace ultimate freedom.
Loving God, John made the most of his freedom by doing good. Be with us as we strive to do the same.
“So you also are now in anguish.
But I will see you again,
and your hearts will rejoice.” From John 16:22
Mother’s Day filled me with memories from both recent history and long ago. After rejoicing in my own role as Mom and Grandma, my thoughts turned to my remarkable mother.
It was more than a dozen years ago and a few weeks after Easter when my son remembered to tell me that my mom had called Easter morning for directions to our house. She wasn’t sure of where to exit the expressway though she had been here a hundred times. I didn’t think much of this until several weeks later when my mom shared that she had driven back home after trying to make it to a meeting. “I couldn’t remember how to get there,” she had said. Because this was also familiar territory for my mom, I began to worry.
When my sisters and I compared notes, we decided it was time to keep closer tabs on our mom. Within a few months, my mom acknowledged that her short-term memory loss had become an issue. So it was that she relinquished her car keys and took up residence with my sister and her husband. Though my mom always intended to live independently and not to be a burden (her word), the truth is that she accepted these changes with great relief. My mom admitted that she did not want to hurt anyone while driving and that she very much looked forward to not having to cook any longer!
Though my mother spent a lifetime caring for me and the rest of her brood, I am most grateful for the grace she exhibited in letting go of a bit of her independence. May I exhibit the same wisdom when the time comes!
Loving God, my mother believed that you would take care of her and she allowed you to do so according to your plan. She believed all would end well and, indeed, it did.