Monday, March 26, 2012

Heavenly Day

My family has suffered a tragic and unexpected loss.  My cousin Michael fell asleep and did not wake.  He was found on his side with his sweet hand tucked under his cheek.  His brothers sat next to his body as they waited for the authorities to complete the tasks appropriate to this type of situation.  His mother placed the phone calls that no mother ever expects to place.  His father's body suffered from the pain and shock of the loss.  His grandmother, both physically and mentally frail, quietly asked for something to calm her nerves so that she could help her daughter through these first frenzied and hollow hours.  His aunts mourned the loss of the first born grandchild.  While I am not certain, I imagine they all pictured Michael as a baby, helpless and tiny, gentle and hopeful.  His cousins exchanged wordless phone calls, silence seeming the only appropriate response.
Often when someone passes, people can be heard saying, "Let this be a lesson...." and might end that sentence with whatever is relevant to the life of the individual being mourned.  Indeed, let Michael's life be a lesson.  Let this be a lesson to laugh and smile as Michael so often did.  Let this be a lesson to always invite everyone along as Michael did, because truly there is always room for one more.  Let this be a lesson to always ask, "Where's the party at?" because life is meant to be enjoyed and lived as Michael did.  Let this be a lesson to look at your children with unconditional joy and love as Michael did.  Let this be a lesson to celebrate the weekend as Michael often did.  Let this be a lesson to love the Dallas Cowboys (although I am going to have to work REAL hard on this one) because Michael loved the "only football team in Texas."  Let this be a lesson to accept people right where they are in any given moment as Michael did....most especially with his family.  
My mother's family is insanely strong and uncharacteristically close.  My grandfather left my grandmother and his four daughters long ago.  While my grandmother showed courage, strength and fortitude during a time when divorce was still a very unsavory notion; she was often necessarily absent in an attempt to keep a roof, food and money.  My mother and her sisters raised one another; and to some extent still do.  In the few hours since his passing, I have been amazed, to the point of silence by the collaborative and collective strength of these women.  The fabric of their lives are so deeply woven it is a grief they will all share.  They will mourn as one, they will grieve as one, they will persevere as one and they will move through as one.  

The loss of a child is not the natural order of life.  I know my Tia Alfie and my Tio Juan will face some incredibly unbearable days....days I can not possibly understand as I have not been blessed with a child.  What I do know is this family has a long and proud history of uniting.  I expect to be astonished at what I will see in the next few days...and in the months to follow.  I expect to be so proud of this particular stock.  As always, I expect to look to these women to show me how to handle life.  

"So fear dying if you must.  It takes from us the only life we know, and that is a worthy loss to mourn.  But do not fear death.  It is something too great to celebrate, to great to fear." -Ken Nerburn
"Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.  Serve the Lord with gladness: come before His presence with singing."  Psalms 100: 1-2 (KJV)

Tomorrow we celebrate your life.  Know that we will honor and praise you with song and laughter; as I imagine you would want us to do.  We will thank our Heavenly Father for the time he allowed us to spend with you.  Then we will set you free on the lands you loved so deeply, the lands that gave you roots and encouraged your wings.

Sleep with the angels, dear Michael.  Know that you are greatly missed.  We are fractured without you.  Grace us with strength through His Holy Spirit and help guide us through each and every day.

Thursday, March 22, 2012