It has been a dificult week for us, and for our family at St. Francis Parish and school. Haley, an eighth grader who has been battling leukemia since the 2nd grade, died Monday. It is breaking our hearts. Although we have a strong Christian faith, and believe she is in the arms of Our Lord, it for those left behind that we mourn. Once you become a parent, it feels as if the world's children are your own; and the loss of one child is felt in hearts of the parents of the world. Dante is acutely aware of this death;the eighth graders pair up with the kindergarteners as 'bible buddies'. They attend Mass together every Friday, and do activities with them after. Haley was Dante's best friend's buddy. He came home crying on Monday. He told me "I don't want to die, Mommy. " and "we need to say a prayer for Haley tonight." His own faith brings me to tears as he is such a sweet and sensitive boy. I have held my own boys closer to me this week. Knowing that with each day they move a bit farther away from me is heartbreaking enough, but the thought of ever having to attend their funeral makes me unable to breathe. I don't know how people live through it. I don't know how anyone would want to. And I pray "not me, Lord, please not me!" I could never be Isaac, and offer up my son. I would rather run and hide and even give up my own salvation than lose my children. Perhaps I am not as faithful as I like to believe, maybe that is part of my panic. If i were called, REALLY called, would I be obedient and follow? Especially during this upcoming Advent season I think of Mary and her answer of "yes." "Yes-I will walk in the face of shame and bear a child who others will think is conceived out of wedlock, Yes, I will bear a son whom I will love and watch him die an agonizing death. Yes, I will do your will." I am humbled by Mary's faith, shamed by my own sense of fear of losing my own children, and pained by the loss of a young life. So as I stuggle with my emotions, I continue to pray for Haley's family, that they find peace and comfort in their own faith, and their faith community at St. Francis. I hope they find peace even the prayers of sinners like me, who hope I will never be called to such a sacrafice.
Maya was my first dog as a 'grown-up.' I had her longer than I have had my children. What a wonderful girl! She filled up spaces in my heart I didn't know I had. She was a reflection of the Divine; loving, forgiving, protective, only in the moment needing only to be loved in return. Because I loved her so much, I helped her out of the pain of cancer and into the Ever After through euthenasia. It was one of my most difficult moments, but the love she showed me for nine years helped alleviate my pain of losing her. While she was laying on my lap, looking up with loving eyes that were masked by physical pain, I asked her through my tears to let me know that she was fine-that there was life after what we know of here.
During the week it took to have her cremated, I kept smelling whiffs of roses in my stairwell at home. I have no roses or rose scented cleaning supplies. Being a new Catholic, it made me think of our Eternal Mother, Mary, and lessened my ache and emptiness. I got the call a week later to pick up Maya's ashes from the vet. I received her in a beautiful cedar box with her named engraved on top. When I opened the box, nestled inside was a plastic bag filled with ashes. And on top....a single pink rose.