Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Requiem (from a letter to family and friends, December 2006)

Dear Family and Friends:

I was asked to give a short talk during my Mom’s internment mass. Please let me share it with you.
When my dad and sister passed away 17 years ago, a very good friend shared a poem about death and letting go. I don’t usually go for the maudlin stuff but somehow it struck a chord. Grief does that to you :-). Unfortunately, over the last few years, I’ve had many opportunities to share the same poem with other friends and family members hoping that it could provide them with the same measure of comfort at their time of loss.

When we laid my mom to rest, the poem came back to mind for two reasons:
1. I realize that our sadness over death is not so much about the departed, because they are off to a better place; and
2. My dad, mom and sister Grace showed us countless times, by words and example, that even during our lowest points we should never be inconsiderate of other people.

The poem is entitled “I’m Free”. Think of it, as I do, as my Mom’s way of reaching out to us for one last time to make sure that we are alright.

I'm Free
Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free
I'm following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard Him call;
I turned my back and left it all.
I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or pray.
Tasks left undone must stay that way;
I found that place at the close of day.
If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared , a laugh, a kiss;
Oh yes, these things, I too will miss.
Be not burdened with times of sorrow
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much;
Good friends, good times, caring hands, a loved one's touch.
Perhaps my time seems all to brief;
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, He set me free.

When we were children, my Mom taught us that if we were to give something at all, to make sure that it is something that is of value to us. To give away something that we do not like or care for, negates and makes meaningless the spirit of giving. My Mom had many imperfections like all of us. But, in her life, she gave us the best of herself and we are all the better for it.

Thank you and God bless us all

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