Yesterday morning, I found myself at yet another funeral (the third) with Mrs. K. The difference being, this one felt oddly reminiscent to my life ten years earlier: three funerals at the end of the year. Seated on the other side of Mrs. K was an old family friend of my parents, Evelyn. When we took our seats, she leaned over to me and said, “It was nice seeing your dad at Christmas Eve mass.” I nodded my head in reply. My Dad at 94 no longer ventures to mass, instead relying on my sister or I to bring him home the eucharist. “I know how difficult this week is for your family, ” She added. Smiling back to her, I replied, “Yes, but it’s been ten years…” Trying to hide the obvious pain that still gnaws at my heart.
In 2005, at the end of November, I accompanied my parents to the funeral of a family friend. A week or so later, I accompanied them to another funeral, this time, our long time next door neighbor. They say deaths or funerals come in threes, but if someone had predicted to me the third funeral would have been my own mother’s, I wouldn’t have believed them. But that’s exactly what happened. Ten days after an official diagnosis and four days after Christmas we said goodbye to our mother, changing our lives forever.
“I know, my husband died in February, two months later. I can’t believe it’s been that long already” Evelyn remarked. Watching as the family walked in behind the casket, I turned back to her and said, “Grief is a crazy monster. For me, grief actually drew me closer to God, because I needed to believe there is a heaven and that she’s there, with Him,” I said before pausing “I’m not sure I had that faith or belief when she was alive and I’m constantly struggling to keep myself close to Him,” I added, the funny thing being I wasn’t sure if I was actually talking to Evelyn or to myself, at that point. Then Evelyn looked back to Mrs. K and then to me, before she replied, “God has you where you belong Marsha and you do very good work.” Smiling back at her, trying to brush off the compliment, Mrs. K chose that moment to jump in and add, “Yes you do!”
Last month my eldest sister, the queen, sent out a text message to her siblings announcing the wonderful news that her daughter and husband was expecting their first child, a girl in June. As one would think, we were all quite excited and happy about the news. Then, the other day, my older bro Tim sent out text, exclaiming joy and happiness at the news that his eldest daughter and husband were also expecting their first child in July. Immediately, like before we all texted back congratulatory replies and then marveled at how our family continues to grow.
In the ten years, she’s been gone, one grandchild and eight great grandbabies have come into the world–the eldest great-grandchild was born on her birthday (a few weeks earlier than planned). As such, we believe Mom used him to send us all a sign and has since met with each child (in heaven) and left an imprint of herself upon them, prior to birth. That may explain why one is a little messy or the other very sweet, etc. Regardless, the cycle of life has moved onward, carrying a piece of her in our hearts and in all of our DNA. While mom may not be physically here with us, she’s usually not very far from our thoughts.