Memento Mori

Tempus fugit, memento mori. Last week I attended one memorial service and one funeral.

The week before, I visited my father in New York. He lives in a nursing home since his stroke nearly four years ago. He celebrated his 91st birthday in March. His range of motion is either bed or a wheelchair and the weekly trips my brothers manage for him in a handicap van. He is hooked up to a feeding tube and cannot bathe himself or attend to his own personal needs. But his mind is good. He still has his sense of humor and dry wit. He is still himself. He just is not able to do the many things he once took for granted.

Every once in a while a picture flashes behind my eyes. I am on the Q 5 bus just pulling out of Jamaica Station, on my way home from Mary Louis, the high school I attended. I am 15 years old and I am very aware of my youth, of my agility, my muscles and my will to life. I feel a forward motion. It is a blessed moment, granted to me in the middle of a very difficult year. And every once in a while it pops up to remind of something: Hope. Joy. Strength. Good fortune. Gift. Blessing. Gratitude.

When I bend a few too many times wrestling my grandson into his diaper and my back is nostalgic for the flexibility of youth, I need to remember that this is one of the many ‘deaths’ we pass through along the way.

When I was in my late twenties and adult life was not turning out quite the way I had pictured it once upon a time I read something about stages in life and what I was experiencing was called ‘the crash of ego’. They got that right! Adult life was hard work: building a family, paying bills, caring for children, nurturing a marriage and somehow in all that trying to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I didn’t quite get all that—all the struggle and the worry and the joys and the little/big things were forming me, shaping me, teaching me who I am. Oh.

I had to let go, let die, some of the things I expected and some of the things I thought about myself and how life should be. I had to learn to trust in the little and big resurrections that are an essential part of life. That are life.

Life is filled with deaths of every description. But, we need to remember that life is also filled with the graces of resurrection that sometimes we have to be quiet and prayerful enough to find.