On Holy Thursday, I had quite the reflective day. I began the morning preparing to leave the children so I could attend the funeral of one of my best friend’s brother. (I will call the deceased man “M” for this blog.). M was only three years younger than us and we all grew up going to the same church youth group. He died at age thirty from accidental (prescription) drug overdose. He had battled addiction for many years, entering rehab, trying to get clean, becoming addicted again, getting clean again, and so the cycle went.
Before I left the house that morning, I decided to read my friend Francesca Morgan’s blog. She posts them every Monday. They reflect her thoughts and feelings since her daughter, Stella, who was five-years-old, died suddenly earlier this year. Her writings and insights are profound. Her blogs always inspire me to want to be a better mother! (If you want to check them out, they are at www.forthecauseoflove.blogspot.com
Here is what caught my eye the most as I was heading out the door to the funeral of this faithful Catholic Family’s beloved son and brother.
“Our children come with no guarantees. Eternal life is the only one I can offer them. I have come to realize now, because of my saint, my Stella, that I as a mother (with other children to raise) want to work tirelessly to give them this one guarantee. It has changed many ways I parent even more so now. I am very grateful for this lesson being learned and constantly look to see how I can do better. The answer always lies in God’s mercy. As long as a soul is willing, His mercy covers all the rest and we are further on this journey towards heaven than we even realized. Mercy is everything. Preparing my children for goals such as higher education, successful careers, and other admirable achievements are good goals, but they are not great goals. We use phrases such as, “the sky’s the limit” or “reach for the moon”. Those goals are enveloped in phrases such as those. They are used to mean “the best” or the “highest degree”. I say however, those aims are much too low for children of the God of the Most High. Only heaven will suffice as the limit. With that as the goal, there actually then is, no limit at all. Furthermore, I am POSITIVE that if that becomes my goal for myself and for my children we will also obtain many other marvelous blessings along the way. I am walking proof of that already. Stella, pray for me, please. I have such a long way to go.” (Francesca Morgan wrote this on www.forthecauseoflove.blogspot.com
Francesca’s words were echoing in my head as my eyes reflected on this young man’s lifeless body at the wake before the funeral. His tearful mother grabbed hold of me and escorted me to his body and said, “My Niño, my Niño.” How I hurt over her heartache. I looked at her and said, “Your son loved the Lord; he so loved the Lord.”
The day after I found out he had died, I looked on his Facebook page because I wanted to see his picture. I haven’t spoken to him in years, so I searched his page trying to get a glimpse into what he was like now. Under “Favorite Books,” he had five. One was Alcoholics Anonymous and then he had the Bible on there twice. I scrolled down to the end of his page and under his basic information “About” I found something profound. This is a spot where most tell of all their great accomplishments, but this newly deceased thirty-year-old wrote while he was alive, “Everyday is one day closer to being with God.” He wrote about God!
Francesca’s words are so profound. “Our children come with no guarantees. Eternal life is the only one I can offer them.” M’s faithful parents could not live his life for him. They tried in every way to help him and support him. His parents may not have been able to save him from making mistakes, but they taught him about the Lord. He knew the face of Christ.
As Francesca said, “The answer always lies in God’s mercy. As long as a soul is willing, His mercy covers all the rest and we are further on this journey towards heaven than we even realized.”
I found out the day this young man died, his mother prayed early that morning after seeing him, knowing he was not doing well. She said, “Lord, I don’t know what else to do for my son; I give him over to you.” That night he died.
I pray, and invite you to pray with me for the soul of “M.” I pray that God took M to be with Him—that He took this faith-filled addict into his protection, covering him with God’s own mercy, allowing him to finally…finally beat the sickness of addiction and be at peace.
The death of Francesca’s child and my friend’s family losing their only son are the first tragedy’s I have gone through since my own AFE. Coming back from death has left me longing for the heavenly peace I felt upon waking up. Now more than ever, I want to get to heaven and I want to take everyone with me! Eternal life is all we really have and all we really have to offer those we love. We can’t live people’s lives for them, but we can teach them about the Lord; we can speak up about heaven. We must not be afraid to proclaim the good news about Christ and the Gospel. We must not be afraid to serve others the way Christ did—the way He did on Holy Thursday—washing the feet of our brothers and sisters in humility showing them the face of Christ. We must pray for all those who have died that their souls are in heaven experiencing the joy of eternal life.
Both of the parents in my story here taught their children about the ultimate goal of eternal life. Being so young, the five year old died in complete holiness and purity, while the thirty year-old died after struggling through many of life’s trials. What I find most amazing is that in their opposite circumstances, both of these children knew the Lord, knew of heaven, thanks to their parents who made it a priority to teach their children about the mercy of God and beauty of eternal life. I hope to be this kind of parent!
As my Holy Thursday began in a very solemn way, it ended as it has the past four years since I have been married, with my husband and I washing each other’s feet, asking each other for forgiveness for any ways we have hurt one another, and showing our willingness to serve one another, and recommitting to sacrificing as Christ did. This time, we invited Brady our three-year-old to take part in the tradition. We washed the feet of our son, asking forgiveness and promising to serve him. Then Brady did the same for us.
Thank you Francesca and M’s parents for inspiring me to invite my son, even at his young age, to begin traditions that will aid in his discovery of Jesus and Eternal Life because every day we live is truly one day closer to being with God!
- Brady and his cousins at Stations on Good Friday.
As a side note: Please pray for my friend Angela Faddis who found out on Easter that she has stage four colon cancer. My husband and I are God Parents to her daughter. Please pray for a miracle!