Watch With Me

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“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.

Pax

 

 

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Where Does the Time Go?

Today is Good Friday, and tonight will mark the thirtieth anniversary of my mother’s passing. Next week, I’ll mark the actual date, but she died in the wee hours between Good Friday and Holy Saturday – a time of vigil, a time of waiting – and so I always keep this night as a remembrance.

Thirty years. That seems impossible. In many ways, it feels like it was just a few days ago. So much has changed in my life since she passed.

I was twenty-five and floundering a bit. I had a degree I wasn’t really doing anything with and I was in a less-than-healthy relationship. One of the biggest regrets of my life is that my mother didn’t live long enough to see the direction my life eventually took. While I do believe she’s always with me, it’s not quite the same as having her there to see it.

JK Rowling has spoken often about how her mother’s death from multiple sclerosis changed everything as she wrote the first Harry Potter book. Death and loss became a central theme of the books and I would have to agree that my mother’s death had a similar and profound effect on me.

Twenty-three of these thirty years have been spent with my partner, and I think my mom would have liked her, would have been happy to see me settled with this woman who will be my partner until death comes to take one of us on to wait for the other.

My mom understood me like no one else, and she used to tease me that I was something only a mother could love. Looking back, I have to agree.

My father has been gone for three years, and I miss him as well. Being parentless is a funny thing, no matter how old we are. It makes you feel like a child again.

I’ve written before about how I keep this vigil, and how when I was a child, we had to stay quietly in our rooms during the hours of noon to three on Good Friday, the traditional hours of the Crucifixion. I can’t do that as I’m working today, so I’m using my lunch break to reflect on these things.

Below are links to two songs I love. One is a link to one of my favorite Gregorian chants – from the Requiem Mass. Although the words in translation (Day of Wrath) aren’t particularly comforting, “Dies Irae, Dies Illa” is a beautiful chant. The other is a link to “The Blessing” sung by Lisa Kelly of Celtic Woman – no explanation needed.

For those of you who celebrate Easter, I wish you a holy weekend. For those anticipating Passover next month, I wish you a peaceful time with family and friends to commemorate that historic miracle. For those who don’t look to religion for comfort, I wish you a glorious Spring.

And to those who were killed and maimed by the bombings in Brussels earlier this week – and all those who will mark that day for their own remembrance in years to come, our hearts go out to you. For those left to deal with the aftermath, I wish you the peace of healing in body and spirit.

Pax

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.

Pax,

Caren