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Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Comedy Among Tragedy

It's been a weird day for me, filled with grace, humor, sadness, grief, and hope.

Comedy of Errors

It all started with a thunderstorm that kept me home after my planned departure time, allowing me to take a phone call from a co-worker who needed a ride to work today.

I'd already opened my garage door for air, so when I finally left I found two birds taking shelter from the weather. They flew off as I encroached upon their friendly solitude and tossed my purse into the car.

En to co-worker's house, I was confused, wondering if perhaps I was on the wrong road; for some reason, everything looked weird today. Although the road signs and sights were familiar I was discombobulated, then taken aback even more when I had to slow for what I thought was a family of ducks. As I reached them, though, I didn't recognize them as any waterfowl I'd ever seen and was unable to get a good look thanks to a redneck pickup hard on my rear end. Had I not slowed to a stop for the birds, however, I would have run over the last cartoonish straggler, which I hope the pickup driver saw in his probable confusion as to my randomly-stopped behavior on a country road.

When I finally reached my co-worker's neighborhood, I missed the turn and had to go back, even though I've driven this route several times.

On the way to work, we saw yet another creature crossing the road ahead of us, but this time neither of us could identify us; could have been a cat, a badger, a skunk, or a raccoon...or some other critter not yet considered. For once, no deer appeared; they were probably still huddled in their storm-shelter thickets.

Then I took another wrong turn and headed up a highway that took me back towards home...not work. Laughing at my very stupid mistake, I turned around at the next exit and managed to navigate our way to the office.

My co-worker took me out for lunch to thank me for the drive to work and home for the last couple days, and on the way back from the office, I AGAIN turned down a wrong road, causing a detour from a known detour. There seemed to be a theme developing.

Finally, on the way back home, I AGAIN got off on the wrong exit to my co-worker's home, causing us to have to sit in traffic we could have avoided and even though it all worked out, she offered me the use of her GPS in case I got lost finding my way home again!

Yeah...I nearly took her up on that offer!

But that's not the whole story. There were bigger events today and I wonder if God just used my lapse in obvious navigation as comic relief to keep me from focusing on  weight heavy upon my heart.


Today we visited a dear friend who is dying of cancer, now completely bedridden at home, suffering from the encroachment of several brain tumors.

I admit I was afraid to see him, but at the same time, looking forward to it, for I love this dear, dear man.

When we arrived, I had to hide my shock (even though I expected this) at his condition; he looked like a concentration camp survivor. This once-robust man was lying in bed, eyes still bright and welcoming, overwhelmed so much by a body wasted away that he could not even reach up to hug us, settling for a good strong handshake instead.

We remained for an hour or so, listening to a story about a part of his life, laughing with him and his wife as they still bantered, laughing with his lively spirit even as he struggled to draw his breath, waiting patiently through his pauses as he had to often swallow, breathe, and gather himself for the next thing he was going to say. It was a great gift to be with him.

This man and I have a few wonderful things in common:  we graduated from the same university, although he has a greater claim to it: he was a Brother there for a time, trying his Vocation, attended the seminary there, and of course, ultimately earned his Bachelor's there, as did I...many many years later. So it was that I was grateful to sit at his feet, literally, as he spoke of his early Vocation, how it came to be, his Irish mother and her persistence, his Priest brother, and his children and grandchildren in their relationship to God and the Faith.  He showed us his rosary, spoke of his brother's death (only a couple years ago), of his mother.

Yup. He's always been a storyteller, but what I reflected on as we left was this: in his stories, he is remembering and communicating not just his actions, but trying to impress upon us those he loved who had gone before him. He is getting ready to meet them again.

He gave me a few directions and hopes for his funeral, things that perhaps I can assist with, and I recognized it as a "dying wish". He knows full well that I don't have the power to do all of it, but I do perhaps have the ability to influence at least SOME of it...and a few other things perhaps he doesn't expect. Those things are in the works and I must pray about the rest, for it involves personally delivering very difficult news to young people in hopes they will respond in love through their grief and meet Christ more deeply.

I don't know if I'll ever see him again, but as we told his dear wife, we hope to come back for "Chapter 2" of his story. I don't think MY life will be complete without it.

The Unexpected Tragedy

When we returned to the office today after the hilarity of lunch and getting "lost" on the way back thanks to my ditziness in known lands, I had an email from my brother.

Mom recently came to the Cities, to Abbot Northwestern Hospital, for some tests on her heart. Well, they found a blockage. My brother said only that Mom needed surgery, family needed to be present, and he couldn't be there so call Mom.

So I did.

Mom has a blockage in one of her Coronary arteries, which are the arteries that supply blood to the heart itself. One of the tests she had was an angiogram, and the surgery required now is Angioplasty. For those unfamiliar, it means they send a little balloon into the artery to clear the blockage, and this includes many risks, although it is probably easily the least invasive heart surgery available.

I told Mom to schedule it according to what works. She was concerned about a meeting with her Insurance Agent that week. I told her to cancel it, he'll understand. (She worries about these kinds of things).

We also discussed the Sacraments: I told her she should be Anointed (Sacrament of the Sick), but she said she wasn't sure how to go about it. Part of the problem is that her own Pastor is out with his own health problems, so substitute priests are covering their parish. They never know who's coming, and often, they don't even arrive for scheduled Confessions on Saturday. She had thought, since there are rarely any lines anyway even if a priest DOES show up, that perhaps she could ask for the Sacrament then.

Well...given the improbability of this actually happening, she is going to contact another nearby parish, one with which she is familiar, and ask for Confession and Anointing. (I also told her Confession is part of the Last Sacrament, for those who are able, so even if she hadn't been to Confession they should be offering it).  I looked up the phone number for her and it sounds like she is familiar with and comfortable with the priests, one of whom was ordained only a year or two ago.

As soon as I learned of her surgery, I sent out prayer requests, and immediately the Grace was flowing, as prayers are being answered.

First, Mom is going into surgery on August 15, the Feast of the Assumption. She has a HUGE devotion to the Blessed Mother, and I can't help but recall that my one and only surgery was on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. My Mother's prayers gave me my devotion to Mary and brought me back to my Faith, even though she didn't know I was lost. Now I am grateful to see Our Lady's intercession with the date of Mom's heart surgery.

We grew up with the images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and Immaculate Heart of Mary...clearly, they will be with Mom, and hopefully with her surgeon, anesthesiologist, surgical nurses, technicians, lab techs, etc etc ets.

Secondly, she is going to receive the Sacraments of Confession and Anointing at...Divine Mercy parish.

At least, if complications arise, we will have the comfort of knowing she will go to Our Lord having received His Most Divine Mercy, after a life of suffering, after a life of quiet devotion and unnoticed holiness.

But please, God, not yet. I'm clearly still lost, can't find my way, and still need my mother!

Prayer Requests:

Please pray for my friend as he prepares to leave this world, and when you pray the rosary, add an extra decade for the Christian Brothers and for students everywhere.  

Pray also for my Mom, who hopes to continue with we who still need her, yet she still has the humility to know she may be going into this and meeting eternal beatitude. Although my brother and I and our extended family want her forever in Jesus's arms,  we aren't quite finished with her and are praying this surgery is typical and uneventful and gives her back a bit more health so that she can enjoy the fresh air a bit longer

Thank you all who have already received this news and are praying, and thank you to all who pray upon learning this information now.


Norm said...

I will definitely pray for your mother and your friend.

Funny thing, I have an interview this week for a position at a university in Memphis that is run by the Christian Brothers.

Beloved said...

Dear Adoro,
First let me say your friend, your mother and your family are in my prayers.

I'm 33 years old and I was diagnosed in January with heart disease and a heart condition (minor block on LAD, middle third and coronary vasospasms). I had to have a cardiac catherization in February and at the time was fighting despair, convinced I'd go straight to Hell if I died. With the help of some very holy priests I got through it, receiving the anointing and their prayers and masses offered for me. I faced death, resting in the arms of Jesus and He gave me life. I still struggle with despair and with a hard to treat heart condition, I'm learning every day to live abandoned in His arms, trying to trust that when its time for me to die, He'll take me to Himself and Our Lady will plead mercy for me.

I tell you all this so you know I can understand your mother's and your fears and I will carry you all in my heart as I pray daily. I believe that whatever happens with your mother's surgery He'll be right there, in the room with her, with her doctors and nurses and with you. His mercy is above all His works and He loves more than we can ever realize.

May God bless you for all the good your blog has done me and may He carry you all in His arms, as He said to St. Faustina, "Tell aching mankind to SNUGGLE CLOSE to My Merciful Heart and I will fill it with peace."

Beth Lemer said...

Adoro, please know that I am so sorry for all this news that is coming at you at once. Think of Job during this time.
I fully believe your prayers wont go unanswered.

Adoro said...

Norm ~ Thanks for your prayers and I pray your interview goes well!

Beloved ~ The age of Christ when He died, and all you've had to endure!

Thanks for your insight. I spoke with Mom tonight and apparently my Godfather has had this procedure 3 times! (I didn't know!)

My Mom is a very holy woman, definitely right with God, so in that sense she is "ready", but let's just say we her adult children are NOT ready for her to leave us! The risks are real, and scary, but she has faced death before, with something far closer than this. Still...when God calls, he calls, doesn't He?

We don't have to agree, but yes, he is with us all.

Thank you for your prayers and know that mine are also with you.

Wondering ~ Well, Job comes to mind, but not on my behalf. I think rather of my friend, who, as he lay dying, considers his entire family who went before him in the same type of suffering, and who prays day and and day out, sleepless, for his children and grandchildren who have left the Faith and for the souls of his family members in Purgatory. He prays for the boys he has taught, and has, as a dying wish, for them to be actively involved (very properly and in a very holy way) in his funeral.

I suffer mere anxiety and anticipation of grief; my friend and his family suffer so much more. My Mother suffers more in pondering my brother and I than she does in her own "discomfort".

I apologize for coming across in a way that may seem overly dramatic. In real life I take a balanced approach but here I write what I cannot speak so that it does not take me over. Ponder Job, yes; but not for my sake or my condition, but theirs.

Not many of us can REALLY call upon Job as an example but only to put our own suffering in perspective.

I know what you meant, though, and thanks. I love the book of Job!

It really speaks, doesn't it? The language is so poetic, the theology of suffering so revealing! The faith of Job so... undaunted!

If only we could all be so holy as to imitate his example!

Anonymous said...

I'm a little late here, and already read the post-op post, but I am praying for continued recovery and healing. My only major surgery was August 15, 2007, when I had my thyroid removed because of cancer. It was also the day I was making my Marian consecration. I will especially commend your mother to the prayers of the Mother.