Watch With Me


“Watch one hour with me. Stay just a way by my side. When my alleluia days streak into blues and grays, be my guide. Stay a while. Watch with me.” © Joe Wise

Those words are part of the lyrics of a hymn based on the gospels, on Jesus’s last night before he was arrested, praying in the garden that this terrible thing might pass him by, and asking his friends to watch with him.

Today is Good Friday, and tonight will mark the thirty-first year since my mother’s passing in the small hours of the night. I was blessed to be with her when she died, and I was especially blessed to have spent quiet hours with her earlier that day. Everyone else was busy elsewhere, and she was sleeping. I didn’t want her to wake alone, so I pulled a chair up and kept my own vigil at her bedside. If you’ve read my books, you’ll probably recognize that scene in one of them.

No matter who you are or what faith you may practice, it isn’t hard to recognize that plea to not be left alone to face something like death. I know we all make that transition alone, but we don’t have to be alone on the path.

I can’t listen to that hymn now or play it on my guitar without thinking of my mom, without remembering that day and those hours we spent together, not speaking much, but saying all that needed to be said.

I wish you all – whether you’re celebrating Easter or Passover or just spring and lots of candy – the peace of family and friends.





In Remembrance of Me

It’s Saturday morning of Easter weekend. I know not all of you who read this are Christians or celebrate Easter, but as humans, it isn’t hard to imagine the despair of this day for Jesus’ mother and those who had followed him with such hopes for change in the world. Only to have the means of that change executed in the cruelest way.

When I was a child, we acknowledged Good Friday by fasting, and by staying quiet from noon till three – the hours of the Crucifixion. Our parents didn’t force us to pray or meditate or anything, but we had to stay in our rooms. We had to be quiet. And the solemnity of that remembrance crept in, even if we weren’t really old enough to understand what it meant.

“Do this in remembrance of me.”

I’m sure the disciples were recalling the Last Supper, when he said those words. Had it really only been a little over twenty-fours hours earlier? In their despair and sorrow, it must have seemed like ages had passed.

And then in the Garden afterwards. “Watch with me.”

I’ve written before that my mom passed away from pancreatic cancer when I was twenty-five. I always mark two anniversaries of her death – the actual date, 29 March, and Good Friday/Holy Saturday. She passed about 2 a.m., so technically it was Saturday. It was in the hush of that night, when people around the world were keeping vigil in churches and chapels, or maybe in their homes.

In many ways, my mom’s passing couldn’t have been timed any more perfectly. For me, those vigils around the world were for my mom as much as Jesus. That was a source of comfort at the time. The weather was gorgeous, warm and sunny, and flowers were in full bloom. It was glorious.

In the hush of this early morning, with only birds and a couple of sleepy dogs to keep me company, I can sit and remember. If you’ve been through this, you know what I mean. You hold onto all those little things you recall, a collage of memories, like a quilt, of your last moments with someone you love, of those things you hold most dear about them.

Wishing you all a wonderful day, whatever you may celebrating this time of year. Hold those you love close, and tell them how much you love them.