“The Christian meaning of death is revealed in the light of the Paschal Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ in whom resides our only hope. The Christian who dies in Christ Jesus is ‘away from the body and at home with the Lord’ (2 Cor 5:8).”
– Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 1681
My phone rang with an unfamiliar tone. It wasn’t a cell to cell call, but a call from the Facebook Messenger APP. On the other end was my sister. She and I hadn’t spoke in nearly a year. Not for any reason other than our lives and travels have just been unable to synch.
I answered and saw her face for the first time in years. She’s all grown up now. No longer my “baby sister,” but grown up; a beautiful wickedly intelligent woman with dangerously sharp wit. Where have the years gone?
She asked me if I knew what day it was, and I responded that it was Saint George’s Day. She offered me a quizzical look and asked again if I knew what day it was. Again I offered, “Saint George’s Day.” She asked if I was serious or if I was just messing with her.
To be honest, I didn’t even know what day it was other than Saturday. I knew it was Saint George’s Day only because I had just read a few post about it on my Facebook feed. Other than that my mind had been distracted with housecleaning, a very pregnant wife, and playing Alice the Madness Returns. Before all that I had been running around Skyrim.
My mind was on everything but the day; I had no idea what she was alluding to. I especially wasn’t prepared for the punch to the chest I got when she said, “It’s the 10 year anniversary of mom’s death.”
What followed was a greatly welcomed three hour discussion of our past, the pain, the abuse, and our mother’s role.
In the beginning I held a lot of anger towards my mother after her death. I was angry with her for having allowed our father and our church to abuse us by her willful inaction. I believed her to be apathetic and living in her own delusional world.
It took years before I could step back and see my mother for who she was and the situation she found herself trapped in. She, too, had been a victim of Mike’s abuse and the abusive teachings of our church. She suffered from a deep depression; a depression she couldn’t get addressed because we didn’t believe in mental health issues. Mental health problems were a result of not being strong enough in your faith -not being a good enough Christian.
My mother carried on her shoulders a heavy burden I will never fully grasp. She wrestled with depression, a devoid sense of self esteem, and abuse from all fronts. There was no one in her life she could fully and honestly confide in; she was bound to friendships confined by the expectations of our church -fair weather friendships. Regardless she did the best she knew how.
For what I believe to be mostly for our sake -the sake of her children- she did everything she could to keep her family together. I have no doubt in my mind that there were numerous times she went into her room, closed the door, and bore the full weight of my father’s insane fury so her children did not have to. Through it all she clung to her faith in Christ, and I believe it was her faith that gave her the resilience to keep pushing on when everything, and everyone, else failed her.
I am terribly saddened that I cannot miss her. The reason I cannot miss her is because I hardly knew her. Our relationship was strained and distant, and I can be honest about that. While I cannot miss her, I do greatly appreciate her and all she had done for us. There were terrible wrongs committed, but I believe those wrongs can be overlooked knowing that she was doing the best she believed she could.
I hold a deep disdain for the church of my youth and Mike because of the things they did to her. It makes me sick when I see one of them post her photo and comment about their love for her, for it comes across as if they are trying to gain sympathy for themselves. I can honestly say that they, too, didn’t know her; loved her only because she kept to the rules -rules that if broken result in the retraction of that love.
She was entrenched in a horrible situation with shit family, a shit husband, a shit church, and shit friends. Still she kept moving forward, she loved as best she could, and I appreciate that greatly. The woman was no angel, but she was a saint.
Go forth, Christian soul, from this world
in the name of God the almighty Father,
who created you,
in the name of Jesus Christ, Son of the living God,
who suffered for you,
in the name of the Holy Spirit,
who was poured out upon you,
go forth, faithful Christian.
May you live in peace this day,
may your home be with God in Zion,
with Mary, the Virgin Mother of God,
with Joseph, and all the Angels and Saints
-Prayer of Commendation