I need to write today. So much has happened calling back a flood of memories, unresolved circumstances, and desolation in finding the right path. I haven’t written in a while as I haven’t had the urge or nudge to do so yet I have spent hours pondering our current world’s plight. There is an old saying that births and deaths come in 3’s. I just had my third death, but I don’t think it is stopping at three this time. As I listened to my music, each song brings back a memory for me. Yes, I am still playing songs I purchased through apple music on itunes 😊.
As I ponder life and death today, my cousin just died, and my niece is being induced with her first child. The circle of life in all its glory on display for my family. It is not the first time for years ago a nephew was born at the same time as my grandmother’s death. God giveth and God taketh away but the spirit lives on. I believe this with my whole heart. The creation of life is a miracle as well as each live birth for childbirth can still be dangerous and for some fatal as I know someone whose cousin recently died after giving birth. Death is coming for us all one day regardless of age, race, and status of our health. I see death as the release of the spirit/soul from the body to rejoin with our creator. It is a time of celebration for that soul albeit a time of morning for those loved ones left behind.
One song today that brought the memories flooding back to me was One Hell of an Amen by Brantley Gilbert. The lyrics in this song are for my dear friend and co-worker, Tony Funk. Tony oversaw facilities and maintenance for our parish campus, and I was the office administrator for the parish. It was a very difficult time for us at the parish in late 2015 and early 2016. Our boss, the monsignor was very ill with diabetic complications being in and out of the hospital on several occasions. Being a priest, he had no direct family to care for him and his closest relative, his sister, was two hours away. I was the one to be at the hospital every day he was admitted as well as in the office to keep things running. His diabetic condition worsened to the point where his foot up to his knee had to be amputated to keep the infection from taking over his body. He had vascular complications on top of it all. At one critical point the infection had reached his blood causing a septic infection to take over his body. I was the one to press the hospital staff that something was terribly wrong, and they were not paying attention. I urged his sister to make the trip down as something was seriously wrong. The hospital staff was not listening, and I needed her their as family to insist on action. Together we were able to convince the hospitalist that they were missing something as he was declining fast. It was a blessing that one of the parishioners was a nurse in the lab at the hospital and she mentioned the infection had reached his blood. The hospitalist was surprised to hear this as he was not aware of it. That was the darkest day as it was up to our dear monsignor to fight the infection now that the hospital was treating it correctly, but much time had passed, and a sceptic infection can be deadly. It was time to get down on our knees and pray. I went back to the office to send out a parish wide email that prayers were needed for monsignor was gravely ill.
During this time, Tony comes down with what he thought was the flu or something as he didn’t feel well and just couldn’t shake it. Tony was one of the healthiest people I knew. He made sure to get in his 10,000 steps every day. He ate only health food. He was the kindest man I have ever met. I never heard him say one bad word against another. He never missed a day of work unless he was seriously sick. Tony called in sick as he just couldn’t shake whatever it was he had.
Monsignor responded to the IV antibiotics and was on the road to recovery although he still had the other critical medical issues to deal with. He moved from the hospital to rehab for his leg as well as regular hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments for healing. Around this time, Tony is still not feeling better, and the doctor decides to admit him to the hospital for tests. After a week of tests, the doctors thought they had a diagnosis, but it was so rare they were not sure. Tony never made it out of the hospital. A week later he died in the hospital before they could begin what they hoped were treatments. I never made it to the hospital to see Tony. To this day that haunts me. I was so busy caring for monsignor that I had my assistant go to the hospital to check on Tony. By the grace of God, we had two priests at our parish so while monsignor was in the hospital the other priest could be present for Tony in the hospital. My assistant phoned me to tell me it was not looking good for Tony. He had the look of death. If you have not been around many dying people, you might not know what that means however if you have then you know exactly what that means. I heard the song “Hell of an Amen” on my way home that night and cried. I sent a card for Tony that I had hoped my assistant or his wife could read to him with the words “if I don’t see you again my friend, then it is one hell of an amen.” I planned to get to his hospital room after leaving monsignor’s hospital room that day then received the call that Tony had passed. I was shaken. Who would have thought that healthy Tony would die two weeks after entering the hospital while I had been in and out of the hospital with monsignor for months!
What could I have done differently? What could I have done better? Why does God always take the good ones early? Tony’s spirit had passed over to the other side. I asked his sprit for forgiveness for not making it there in time. I was so sorry I had thought monsignor was more critical, so I needed to stay with him versus being at the hospital with Tony. The circle of life. So many lessons.
During difficult times, I love this song, Strong Enough by Matthew West. I have played it often to see me through my darkest times. The words are a balm to my soul.
For my cousin, Tina, Blest Are They Blest are you dear cousin for you shall see the face of God!
My cousin dying is another of the only the good die young ones. She went into the hospital a couple of weeks ago with Covid and passed yesterday. I know she is in a better place. Her spirit is free to soar now no longer trapped in the physical vessel we call the human body. Why some recover and some die we do not know for only God knows for thy will be done for the highest good of all. On eagle’s wings, Tina, may you fly to God for now you can see all of life’s weavings …
My life is but a weaving
between my God and me;
I may not choose the colors,
He knows what they should be;
For He can view the pattern
Upon the upper side,
While I can see it only
On this, the under side.
Sometimes He weaveth sorrow,
Which seemeth strange to me;
But I will trust His judgment;
And work on faithfully;
‘Tis he who fills the shuttle,
He knows just what is best;
So I shall weave in earnest
And leave with Him the rest.
At last, when life is ended,
With Him I shall abide,
Then I may view the pattern
Upon the upper side;
Then I shall know the reason
Why pain with joy entwined,
Was woven in the fabric
Of life that God designed.
May we all remember our loved ones who have passed on with hearts full of love and memories that bring smiles to our faces as we celebrate their reunion with the Creator, our Lord! May we welcome our new loved ones (as I receive the message my niece is in full labor now) with joy in our hearts, hope and dreams for their future as we celebrate the children of God they are! May we continue our journey, our soul’s path in this lifetime to learn the lessons we are to learn in our own circle of life! May God continue to bless us, keep us, guide us, and lead us. Amen!
Meditation and prayer are the tonic for these unprecedented times! Please take time to spend in quiet solitude to commune with the Holy Spirit. Ask for what you seek. Ask for discernment. Give thanks. Keep your heart pure in light, in love, and in service to all. Namaste.
A little FYI that not many know … the funeral mass in Catholicism is celebrated with white vestments and cloths to symbolize the joyful event of the soul leaving the body to be reunited with Christ.