A little over a month ago, my 90 year-old mother passed away after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s. Despite the fact my family and I had been saying goodbye to Mom literally for years, I think many of us were surprised how hard it was when she died. Being people of faith, we know that the tears are for us and not for her. We are confident that Mom is now with God and knows more joy than she ever could have known on earth. (And that’s saying something because that lady was JOYFUL!) Yet, the sadness is still there…
The same week my Mom died, an obituary made the news not because of its beauty but because of its darkness. It was written by the children of a woman who had died. At first, just the facts of her birth and death were given but the ending talked of how she had abandoned her children and that the world was a better place without her. The pain and bitterness of her children was obvious in the piece.
The contrast between my Mom’s live of love and joyful service and the life of the woman in the obituary got me thinking. A long life can be either a blessing or a curse. Not to yourself, mind you, but to those you meet along the journey. You see, a long life gives you lots of opportunities. Those opportunities can be used to give love and bring healing or they can be used to create division and cause hurt. If, at the end of your life, people are still sad that you’ve gone, you probably sowed lots of seeds of love during your time on earth. But, if your obituary could read like this one, then….
I know, I know. Sadness sure doesn’t seem like a blessing, does it? But when the sadness comes from the loss of something beautiful it is a great blessing and a gift. I feel so blessed to be sad that Mom is gone; so glad that I miss her. And what a testament to her life that so many people miss her and are sad that she’s gone! Of course, we know that this separation is also temporary and merely physical. We are still in union with Mom through the communion of saints. She’s our best advocate in heaven, second only to Mother Mary, I assume. But, Mary has billions of children on earth to advocate for. My Mom only has one husband and 10 children (plus their spouses, and grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and her siblings, and their children…ok bad example) to keep an eye on. And just wait until our final reunion! What a party that will be! Then the sadness will be completely gone and our joy will know no end. Until then, I will cherish the sadness as a sign of my love for her but it will never eclipse the joy of having her in my life.