Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Death Anniversaries and the Crucifix
My spiritual director picked up (after one meeting) that I was not done mourning my father's death. He's right; I'm not. It's been a slow process. I don't know where he is (still in purgatory or already in Heaven) but I hope he will either soon be in Paradise or already is. That provides some comfort. I am so incredibly grateful that he came back right before he died and embraced the Church and God fully. I still tear up when I think of how he returned (received the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Eucharist for the first time in over 40 years) the day before my 24th birthday... and how he had told my mom that it was because he knew how much it would mean to me. My father forgot my birthday every year (without fail) but he gave me the greatest gift for the last one he would be alive for. That is a wonderful memory that I like to think of instead of remembering about how he died.
I saw my father died. I saw him take his last breath. I heard the monitors that were hooked on him flat line. I felt how cold he was hours after he had died (I was the last person to leave him before he was taken to the morgue). All of that triggers my PTSD and makes me feel physical ill; I even feeling a bit faint as I type it out. Yeah, not fun. Don't worry, I am having sugary cereal and making myself a cup of tea so I'll be fine. Anyway, thinking about him and his death reminded me of something: I've always been scared of death but have never had the guts to admit it.
I don't know why but I've always been afraid of it. My earliest memory is of me when I was around 4-5 years-old, sick in bed, asking my parents if I was going to die. I was terrified that being sick meant I was going to die. How I got the idea in that little mind of mine, I don't know. I also remember being utterly terrified of a statue of Jesus, lying in a glass coffin, at the beautiful church where part of my family still attends Mass in Mexico. I visited that small town from ages 7-12 (so, not in over 16 years) and that statue still leaves an impression on me when I think about it.
I wonder, why are we all so afraid of death? Is it because we've all done really dumb (read: still, very human) mistakes that we don't want to be held accountable for? Is it because we don't know where we will end up? Is it because we fear that it's too late to seek total forgiveness and amend our lives? Because it totally isn't and we can.
I think that, for me personally, it's a combination of all of those. I've done a lot of really cringe-worthy things. In fact, I still do. I'm getting better at staying out of the confessional for longer periods of time but I still have to go. I'm not perfect. Do I occasionally think that I will die with some mortal sin without having a chance to confess it? Yes. That worries me. Why do you think I try to lead a holy life (though I often fail) and why I insist on going to confession regularly? I'm not taking any chances.
I think about how Jesus died on the cross for our sins. God loves us to much that His only son (who did not sin) died in the most cruel manner for us. He loves us to much that we have this beautiful sacrament that absolves us from our human mistakes (if one is truly sorry for having committed them) so that we may join him in Heaven one day. There's still hope for us all. It's that hope that keeps me going... and keeps me from going into full depression mode when I think about my father. Every time I look at a crucifix, I am reminded of both the sacrifice and the hope. That is also the reason why I am saving up to get myself a crucifix to wear around my chain (along with my St. Jude pendant; St. Jude's intercession got me to revert to the Faith). I know many non-Catholic Christians will be unhappy with my choice (crucifix instead of a cross) but it's something I am going to do for myself, not for them.
Yes, today and tomorrow are going to suck (pardon the language). I am (and will undoubtedly be) a weepy mess for at least the next two days but whenever I look at the crucifix, which is hung right in front of my bed, I will think about what it means to me. I will give thanks to God for allowing me to have my earthly father for 24 years, for sending His son for our sins, and for His unending love for us.
Believe it or not, I am no longer crying and I am feeling more at peace. Huh. Writing really does help. :)
Anyway, I need to go eat before my next tutoring session begins. Sorry if this post was kind of a downer but I needed to get it out of my chest. :)
As always, thanks for reading and God bless.