A Moment of Grace

It's a genuinely painful, but also rather good experience, to watch someone taking their leisurely leave of this world. I might not have written those words a few days ago, but things are happening, and changing. As my brother S makes what appears to be a final lap around the days and seasons of his own life, some beautiful mystery is being played out before our eyes. I think we might be witnessing grace.We have been watching S make his unhurried exit for a few months, but these last few days … [Read more...]

The Kindness of Strangers

Please allow me to thank those of you who left kind comments, prayers and poems concerning my brother. I am always immensely humbled by examples of huge generosity of spirit by strangers, for other strangers.When I think back on 9/11, I remember the people helping each other, pulling each other along, one person dousing another's face with bottled water to cleanse the eyes of ash and more, people driving hours from regions upstate to leave sandwiches and lemonade for hard-working volunteers. … [Read more...]

At Journey’s End…

Things will be rather silent for a little while...let the world be hushed...my brother, my beloved brother, is near his end, all 41 years and 68 lbs of him are reaching their culmination. On this day of rain and wind, all overcast and bleak, we will very likely see one more light go out, and things will seem a bit darker. This event has been long, so very long, in coming - you'd think our hearts would be more than prepared...and yet...it is almost more than we can bear. Please remember my … [Read more...]

O God, You Are the Wayside Resting Place

Likewise, the spirit also comes to the aid of our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Romans 8:26Inexpressible groanings seem to be the stuff of my life these days. My groans mingle with tears at the bedside of my brother as he slowly, slowly retreats into himself in these last days. I watch my brother, now in hospice as we have reached that point, and I realize how small our lives are, and how a … [Read more...]

The Book of Tobit is useful and under-utilized

Earlier, I wrote that I am in the process of putting together the liturgy for my brother's funeral.That's not just a hard sentence to write, it is a difficult task to set oneself to. It requires a willingness to say, "yes, I suppose this must be done, and better to do it now, when I am thinking clearly..." when one really doesn't yet want to...quite...believe that the end is near.Choosing from an approved list of prayers used throughout the Mass of Christian Burial is not difficult, even … [Read more...]

A bruising and most contemptible death

I wrote a few weeks ago about a beloved brother and said he was “dying by inches”.I was wrong. He is dying, not by inches but millimeters, and we have been told that we are now, truly, near the end.My grief for my brother (really my brother-in-law, but my husband’s family could not be more dear to me if they were my own, and so I choose to leave off that in-law crap) is rather different than the grief I am feeling for the family as a whole, but I am grieving for all of them. After dealing for ove … [Read more...]

My brother is dying by inches…

I wish I could say something wise about the process of dying, but I cannot. I love my brother - my brother-in-law, really, but a true brother as all of my husband's family are very much my own. He has been, for all of these years, the kindest man I have ever known - the sort of man who, suffering and weighing less than 100 lbs, wonders when you arrive if he can get you a cool drink.He is kind. Christ-kind. Always quick to turn the other cheek, to extend hospitality and generosity to people who … [Read more...]