The Hard Parts

The circle of life. For some it’s too short. Today I watched as another dear friend buried her child. A daughter, a mother of 3, a sister, a fiercely vibrant young woman in her late 20’s. First child out of the gaggle of children in our circle of college friends to produce grandchilden. Taken, suddenly, without the chance to say good-bye, or simply I Love You, one last time. All the memories from previous funerals of other children bubble up, making the wounds raw again. How does one bear the pain? I look at my pal and see grace buttressed by God’s love. Too soon she will run out of steam and collapse. Then Jesus will gently cradle her and give her the strength to face another day without her girl.

It was a test we could all hope to pass
But none of us would want to take.
(This is Your Time – Michael W Smith)

Scripture speaks of the foretelling of Mary’s sorrow as “A sword will pierce your heart”. No one can ever plumb the depth’s of a mother’s grief on losing a child. It’s not the lost opportunities, or the lost future, or the hardships to be endured with handling an estate. For 9 months, mother and child are one and the same flesh. So literally, a part of you dies with them.

The image is burned in my mind from The Passion of Christ movie where Jesus falls under the weight of the cross on the Via Dolorosa and locks eyes with his mother. Her memory, though, is flooded with that of little Yeshua falling and skinning his knee as a boy. Gut-wrenching.

The Anchoress writes of her mother caring for her brother as he passed away in 2005.

I watched this unshirking woman – a woman who, ten years ago, would have told you that she could not possibly endure such a reality – feed her son a meal from his dish, while she nourished him – and the rest of us present – in a different way, with her unconditional love. Forty years ago, I thought, she fed S as she feeds him now, but then it was a delightful game, now it is a heavy sadness…and still, there is the same love behind both meals.

[…] Too exhausted for words, S reached for her and she took his hand, and his eyes saw only his mother, and they said, “Mommy…oh, Mommy,” and her eyes said the rest, “Son…oh, my son…”

Here she writes of the grace she witnessed as he gently passed out of this world.

Daniel, who lost his daugther, writes of his family’s journey through grief at Dear Elena. It’s not just today, or tomorrow. It’s every day.

Remembering this girl, I echo The Anchoress’ words on listening to the sung Hebrew prayer of mourning

Glorious. I turned it up and raised my hands in prayer and let it wash over me – an ancient surrender to the inevitable – to life, to life-in-death, to cycles, to mercy, to mystery, to unconditional love – a love of such depth and tenderness as I have not words to express. O Mystery, you are alive, I feel you all around…

Sleep in heavenly peace, little MB.

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