May Was Crazy
I feel like I owe you all an apology.
You see, I love writing and I love exploring Orthodoxy. I also love sharing that exploration with all of you.
But this past month has been crazy.
This year, Mothers’ Day was going to be rather quiet. My mother was on vacation in Hawaii, and none of the other motherly figures in my life live close enough for me to see on a regular basis. I had intended on having a nice dinner with my wife to celebrate her. Little did I know that all that quietness was about to get very busy.
I received a phone call the day preceding Friday that my (maternal) Grandmother had some complications during her hospital visit. We were told she was being kept overnight at the hospital near her Wisconsin home. The next day, however, news began to spread in the family that things were not looking good and that we should make arrangements to get to Wisconsin to say our goodbyes.
So on Mothers’ Day, we traveled to Wisconsin. We got to see my Grandmother for a few minutes, she recognized my son immediately and sported a huge smile as she sang to him. She rested the rest of the night.
We drove home, completing our 4-hour round trip, and my wife ran some errands with our son. I happened to see a notification on my phone that Fr. Barnabas Powell was going live soon, so I figured I’d call into the show. What do you know — I was the first caller on air! I asked about grieving, and particularly as someone who is not Orthodox, but no longer can rightly consider themselves Protestant. He had some good advice that I’ve taken to heart. You can listen to the broadcast HERE.
On Monday, I informed my boss that I’d be taking some vacation and we once more made a trip across state lines. We got to spend some more time with her and she was more lucid once she was moved out of the critical care unit. She asked me to pray for her, and it was my great pleasure to do so. I also remained nearby most of the day praying over some prayers of the Fathers that I was able to find online. That day, we got the news that the very oxygen that was keeping her alive was also causing irreparable damage to her lungs. It was official, she was going to die.
By this time my mother had canceled her vacation plans, flew back home, and was there with all of us. For the next few days, it all became a blur of picking up relatives flying in (a standard familial obligation living by an airport), driving to the hospital and back, packing lunches for the day, getting home late, waking up early to pick up more relatives, etc. The only thing that made the exhaustion worth it was the fact that I got to see so many of my family members I haven’t seen in a while.
On Tuesday, she was ready. They stopped administering oxygen. Her pastor was there, praying. She was surrounded by almost her entire family: 6 children, 10 grandchildren, 6 great-grandchildren. Only a few of us weren’t there to see her, though we all made it to the funeral.
I often hear the term of the Saints that they “reposed in peace”. That day I watched what a peaceful repose looked like. She simply fell asleep and for a short time, her body continued to breathe. Within an hour, she was gone.
I’m grateful this all happened the way it did. She was lucid, cracking jokes, and making fun of us all until the end; we wouldn’t have had it any other way. We cried, but we didn’t cry for her. The tears were for us who wouldn’t see her anymore. She was a joyous person. May her memory be eternal.
It seems almost trivial to bring up why the rest of the month has been busy for me, but I feel it’s necessary. On the day my Grandmother died, I received a call from my boss’s boss asking if I’d like to do some business travel. This was something he and I talked about recently, and there was an immediate need for someone to travel to Kentucky and sit in meetings all week (I know this sounds boring to most, but the opportunity to travel on someone else’s dime without the need to drag my wife – who hates travel – along is definitely enough to offset some meetings). Naturally, I agreed. Then I found out the meetings were the next week. So after we got home for the weekend, I took my clothes from one bag and moved them to another and prepared to fly south.
The meetings went great, and it turns out that I now have a new job. This phenomenon is commonly called being “voluntold”. I’m still processing this, but I’m enjoying the new responsibilities. It’s a lot more work, but it’s enjoyable. I’m traveling back to Kentucky next week as well so this may turn out to be a regular feature of my new position.
In any event, I would greatly appreciate your prayers. The travel is enjoyable for me, but it leaves my wife at home without the chance for her to work. My family is recovering well from our loss, but there is still much sorrow. If you would remember us in your prayers, I would be eternally grateful.
That all being said, I will be writing again soon. I’m still looking forward to moving through St. Cyril’s catechetical lectures and the next one is already drafted!