When I was younger I had a crush on almost every girl who crossed my line of vision. I even had a picture frame with pics of some of these girls. My wife discovered it years later, thus finding something else to tease me about and laugh her head off. It is very easy to make her laugh especially when it is something goofy, I did as a youth. Actually, it’s anything goofy I do now as an adult as well that causes hysterical giggles from her. One of the girls in the frame was named Danielle. Her brother was in the same graduating class with me and also part of the same Young Life group that I attended. Danielle and I had some type of wrestling match at a YL camp once.
She was also one of the kids who went on a class trip to CA which I was also a part of. We were only mere acquaintances really. I found out years later she wasn’t into guys. I also found out she died. This was sad and I wanted to go to the memorial service but had some work to do for CatholicTV, so I couldn’t go.
A similar thing happen years later when my HS classmate and neighbor Sean Manney died. Sean lived just down the hill from me. We played together when we were kids. He helped me memorize my lines in my starting role as a caveman named Rock in my 5th grade musical ‘Sky Happy”. I still remember the solo I sung in it “If a Bird can do it, why can’t I?”. My uniform fell off while I was on stage. I used to write fictional stories of us called ‘The Adventures of Sean and Marky”. I have a photo of us somewhere, in his backyard when it got flooded in a rubber raft. We drifted apart but stayed friendly. He was also in my graduating class. In 2019 he fell off his boat and drowned. I was unable to go to the wake because I was working at St. Patricks and couldn’t get any time off to go.
Ironically the girl who lived two doors down from Sean, Holly Ishmel also died in 2019. We used to hang out together with a bunch of other kids and play games: flashlight tag, kick the can, which I broke my arm once playing, Truth or Dare, and others. This lasted till HS. She didn’t end up having any type of formal memorial service but some gathering at the local beach near my childhood home from some that knew her. I grow up near a pond named Pleasant Pond at the end of Pleasant St. in a small rural community. We went swimming in the summer and ice skating in the winter.
I didn’t have the time to go to a service to say goodbye to these people I had once knew.
I didn’t have time to say goodbye to some I had considered friends once upon a time.
When my aunt died who lived in Oregon, my mother’s sister, they didn’t have a service to go to either and it would have been too far away for me to travel if there had been one. Interestingly I just found out an uncle, My father’s brother, I never talk to died two months ago at age 96.
When he had finished speaking he knelt down and prayed with them all. They were all weeping loudly as they threw their arms around Paul and kissed him for they were deeply distressed that he had said that they would never see his face again. Then they escorted him to the ship. Acts: 20: 36-38
As I grow older more and more people will continue to pass from my life. And these 3 things…
Time to attend a memorial service or funeral,
Too long of a distance to attend memorial service or funeral, and
Lack of a memorial service or funeral to attend,
will prevent me from saying a proper goodbye to friends, family and acquaintances.
There was Amanda from Franciscan University whom I would eat lunch with and who kept her stuff in my basement one summer while she went home and I still lived in Steubenville.
There was the women who gave me a Fr. Barron CD to listen to after a pray group I went to once at the Fatima Shrine with Kristin.
There was the girl I meet at a YA dance who ended up dating my friend Jeff Wagner.
There was Gary the security guard at St. Patrick’s.
And so many others.
Yes, I can still pray for them, and I should. But it’s not the same as attending a memorial service where you gather with fellow mourners.
It’s not the same as a funeral, especially a Catholic funeral,
where their soul is dipped in the blood of Calvary
as they transfer from this world to the next.
But as you get older and leave the young adult demographic behind for the relative stability of being a married middle-aged homeowner and parent, your sense of mortality deepens. You begin to realize that you’re not going to be around forever as all your friends turn 40. Your time on this earth is finite, and that can be a little scary to think about.
Brian Fraga, Memento Mori: A Meditation on Death (December 5, 2019) On the Catholic Beat @ Patheos Catholic
The older you get, more people you know will die. And it is unlikely you will be able to attend everyone’s funeral or memorial service. One of my best friends, Marshall Myers, lives in Ohio and I would hope that when he passes on, I would be able to get time off to attend his funeral or vice versa if I go first. I still don’t know when or what type of service they will have for my friend Pattie or her mother who just died due to the Covid. This pandemic has put a damper on funerals and memorial services.
Besides the three that I mentioned, I may also not find out if someone I know dies. I have 623 FB friends. I doubt that when somebody dies, it will be posted on everyone’s timeline. People will just stop posting someday. I will stop posting someday. How many readers of the Catholic Bard will know if I’m dead? How would Rebecca the Catholic Patheos Manger know I died? How would I know if she died?
Eventually all of us will be like the names on the gravestones in the grave yard near my house, forgotten names of people who once walked this earth. Time eventually erases the memory of most of humanity from the living.
This is one reason to get close to the only one who never forgets us.
When we become just a name on a gravestone, we are still a living soul to the one who shall never die again.
He has time to attend to you when you are dead.
Distance is no problem in Him coming to your side.
He will know when you have passed.
Just call out to him,
“Jesus, have mercy on me a sinner. Jesus, I trust in You.”
“Father into your hands I command my spirit.”
Even thou I don’t know if I can attend your funeral or memorial service,
Or whether I know you are dead or alive,
Even thou I don’t know if you will be able to attend my funeral or memorial service
Or whether you know I am dead or alive,
I pray that I see you again in the kingdom of heaven and thus ask the holy Trinity to forgive your sins and fill you with his divine life.
I ask that you do the same for me.
May the souls of the living and the faithfully departed live and rest in his peace.
Holy Mary Mother of God, prayer for us sinners NOW and at THE HOUR OF OUR DEATH.
More reflections on Death