Life and Death

Life and Death April 14, 2014

When my father died in November 1983, it was a sudden and shocking blow that come right in the middle of Jan and my preparations for our marriage in December. The wedding (and Christmas) were profoundly healing reminders of life and grace, though emotionally it was a huge roller coaster.

God, continuing that tradition of dramatically juxtaposing life and death in the most Good Fridayish and Eastery of ways, has seen fit to take my Mom, whose name “Phyllis” means “foliage”, on Palm Sunday. You can almost hear the two of them laughing about it, reminding me that things aren’t so bad as all that.

And what is more, last week on Tuesday morning (the day after we visited mom), I was awakened by the sound of Jan bustling about in the dark. Barely awake, I mumbled, “What’s going on?” She chirped merrily in a sing son voice, “Today’s the day they give babies away, with half a pound of butter!”

I drifted back to sleep for a while until, somewhere down there at the bottom of Lethe, I dimly recalled that this was the International Janet Signal that a mom was in labor and a baby was imminent. I snapped awake and said, “Whaaaaa?”

Our daughter-in-law, Claire was in labor!

To make a long story short, on April 8, our beautiful and perfect new grand-daughter, Seraphim Anduin Shea, was born weighing in at a very respectable 8 lbs., looking remarkably like her father, Matthew (aka Cow) at that age and displaying a fine head of beautiful black hair like her thoroughly black Irish mother. Below are some pictures:

I would have told you before now, but the news was embargoed till Cow and Claire got to make their announcements.

So World: Meet Seraphim Anduin Shea, a sign that God means for life to go on in the midst of sorrow. It doesn’t get much more Eastery than that. Thanks be to God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

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  • James H, London

    Good is good!

    • Marthe Lépine

      All the time!

  • orual’s kindred

    In the midst of death there is Life. Welcome to new granddaughter Seraphim Anduin Shea! She is beautiful!

  • Dan F.

    God bless you and your family.

    • Neil Leslie

      Dan F., thank you for posting this! Absolutely beautiful. Am I correct in thinking it is from the Roman Missal and begins with something like “May the Angels of God come to greet you.”?

      • Dan F.

        Indeed. I sang it over my grandmother’s grave and it’s been a comfort to me many times since. Here is the (googled) translation:

        In Paradisum deducant te Angeli;
        in tuo adventu suscipiant te martyres.
        Chorus Angelorum te suscipiant,
        et cum Lazaro
        aeternam habeas requiem.

        May the Angels lead you to Paradise;
        at your coming may the martyrs receive you.
        May the chorus of Angels receive you,
        and with Lazarus
        eternally may you have rest.

  • God has wonderful ways of consoling us! (I think from the looks of her, little Seraphim will give cousin Lucy a run for her money in the cuteness department).

  • Evan

    May God grant eternal rest unto your mom.

    And congratulations on a new grandchild. Seraphim Anduin is an awesome name. (Please tell me Anduin is from Tolkien. If not, the name is still awesome, but it’s at least ten times more awesomer if it’s a Middle Earth reference.)

    • chezami

      Indeed it is from Tolkien: the name of the Great River in Middle Earth.

  • CJ

    Prayers for you and your family as you mourn your mom and welcome Seraphim. So who’s the Cuteness now?

  • Newp Ort

    Condolences and congrats, Mark. Prayers for all.

  • Hezekiah Garrett

    Prayers! For Phyllis, Mr&Mrs. Cow, Seraphim, you and all of yours.

  • MarylandBill

    Mark, you have my condolences for the loss of you Mom. When my Dad died last year on Saint Patrick’s day (and he being from Ireland), a priest told me that such things are not coincidences, but rather messages from God. I am sure that God used Palm Sunday to send you a powerful message of hope regarding your Mom.

    Now, onto your Grandchild. Congratulations for your beautiful grandchild. I am sure she will be a great consolation to your and your family in the coming days and will be a joy to you in the coming years.

  • Allison Grace

    I’ve read your articles for years and have that weird connection readers get with “their” writers … love and prayers for you and yours.

  • It’s all part of the circle of life, Mark. Condolences and congratulations!

  • Veronica

    Wow, congratulations on having another beautiful granddaughter!!! I was wondering why you hadn’t said anything about The Cuteness lately, I hope she is a very happy cousin!
    My condolences for the passing of your mother.

  • Shawna Mathieu

    That’s a gorgeous name, BTW. Congrats!

  • tj.nelson

    I’m so sorry about your mom.

    Congratulations on the beautiful new baby.

    Prayers for all.

  • PalaceGuard

    Prayers for your Mom. And may the River of Angels be a current of joy in your life.

  • Mschoir01

    Life. So bittersweet. Welcome Seraphim. May her grandmother watch over her ever after.

  • Marthe Lépine

    Is it Jan, or Claire’s mother, in the first photo? She looks like someone I would really like to get to know. Congratulations to all the happy grandparents and to the parents.Blessings to all.

    • chezami

      That’s Claire’ mum, Sarah.

    • That’s what I thought too She does seem like a someone I’d enjoy talking to. She has a lovely smile — as does Claire.

  • Thomas Boynton Tucker

    My condolences on your Mom’s death, Mark. A life well-lived and well-loved!. You will see her again.

  • Neil Leslie

    Condolences on the death of your Mom, but congratulations on the birth of your beautiful new granddaughter!

    Mark, I had a similar experience of the interconnected nature of life and death at my Dad’s memorial Mass a few years ago. My brothers and sisters and I arrived at the church a few minutes early, and while we waited for Dad’s funeral Mass to begin, we noticed that a young family was having their newborn twins baptized. As my Dad’s earthly journey was ending, a new journey to the Kingdom of God was just beginning for these two little ones! God’s Providence is indeed strange and wonderful!

  • Rebecca Fuentes

    Congratulations on the birth (I did a double take; your daughter-in-law looks like one of my cousins enough to be her sister)! Condolences on the death. We will keep both your joy and your sorrows in our prayers.

  • Julia

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Mark. I’m so glad God has given you such a wonderful reminder of the joy in life in this sad time.

  • Congratulations and God’s blessings to you and your family, Mark! We were saddened to hear of your loss, but so happy to hear about the recent addition to your family.

  • Fr. Denis Lemieux

    Life and death – congratulations and condolences all wrapped up together. Be assured of my prayers for your mom and all of you in this time.

  • Roberto Bencivenga

    My father-in-law died 20 years ago on Easter morning, ten days after the birth of our youngest son. I too thank the Lord for giving us joy when the sadness of our human losses seems so overwhelming. May you and your family always remember that His eternal and constant love will sustain you at all times. God bless!

  • Hunk Hondo

    So very sorry to hear of the passing of a remarkable lady whom I wish I could have known.But at least God has sent some joy to balance your sorrow. Prayers for you, Jan and for mother and child.

  • Victor

    (((“Today’s the day they give babies away, with half a pound of butter!”)))

    My sympathy for your mother’s death and congratulation on your new grand-daughter Seraphim Anduin Shea.

    God Bless

  • Carlos_Perera

    You have my heartfelt sympathy, Mr. Shea. I will pray for the repose of your mother’s soul and for the solace of those she left behind.

    • Carlos_Perera

      Also, congratulations on the birth of your granddaughter.

  • She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named

    Oh Mark! She is absolutely beautiful and perfect! Congratulations on the arrival of this precious little blessing! Enjoy as many snuggles and hugs and kisses as you can 🙂 What a wonderful name too! Will they call her Sera or Seraphim?

    I know I’ve already said, but we’ve been praying for you and yours so much before and since your mom’s passing. Sending lots of prayers and love to all of you from all of us!

    La tua sorella piccola,