22 July 2019

Saying Goodbye Just Sucks

This summer has been wonderful in many ways.

But there has been one sting that feels messy and hard right now.

My Dad's oldest living sister Carolyn (AC to my siblings and I) was told her chemo for ovarian cancer was no longer working. The last weekend in June she was told she had weeks to live. On July 13 she peacefully died in hospice with her husband, my Uncle Bob by her side.

The almost two weeks we had left with her were spent visiting her in hospice, slowly watching her body decline. As a family we shared the Eucharist at Mass while she was anointed. She and my uncle renewed their wedding vows. We shared memories and laughed while we said our personal goodbyes to her.

After her wake on Wednesday, I went out with family members to a dive bar for beers and burgers to celebrate a life well lived. My Dad's favorite childhood cousins from Boston who flew in for the funeral also came. We laughed, shared memories, and were just together in a hard time.

Her funeral Mass on Thursday was beautiful. 

My Dad gave such a tender homily. Choked up the whole time, he got through the Gospel and what he wanted to share. As he ended, he shared with all gathered that the living memorial to Carolyn is how we live our lives and emulate the traits she so passionately lived. 

Gently patting her casket, he whispered, "And Carolyn, like you you always told us those final weeks, I'll see you when I see you."

The bagpiper played Amazing Grace as we watched her casket leave the church. Watching my Dad incense her casket for the final journey was one of the most surreal things I have witnessed in my life.

In the few days since her wake and funeral last Wednesday and Thursday, I am realizing how much of a void there is without her. 

Saying goodbye just sucks. 
The finality of death is really hitting me.

I cannot call or text her anymore. I won't hear AC call me by my nickname "Patsy-kline." She will never plan another holiday party or family get together. She will never see me get remarried.

It is just weird. 
Growing up, AC seemed invincible to me and yet she is gone from this earthly life.

The loss of my beloved aunt is making very real to me that someday my siblings and I will have to do the same thing for my parents, for each other. In a sense, that adds a unique level to missing her.

Perhaps (in a slightly selfish way) it reminds me that right now there is not that person to share life with for me. I cannot imagine the huge loss my uncle feels going to an empty house without his best friend.

I know my Dad is having a hard time. He and AC were very close, and in a deep way he feels her absence.

We all do and it is just hard.

While the sad feelings feel uncomfortable, I am so grateful for the message of hope our faith is. In the Rite of Christian Burial it says, "life has changed, not ended."

In my heart of hearts, I know this is truth. I believe it.
But of course in the present it still sucks.

I look forward to the day I can hug AC in Heaven.

And until then, I am praying for her and asking her to pray for me and my future (whatever it holds).

The last text message exchange we shared was in March and I was telling her about breaking up with a good man. In her typical AC fashion, she was both validating and giving me advice. 

The last thing she texted me was, "Patty, there is a life with a good man for you. It will come to you."

I am cherishing a lifetime of beautiful memories and asking AC to get on the job of praying for my future.

I believe I will see her again.

But until that day ...

AC - I will see you when I see you. 

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19 July 2019

Sometimes the Bravest Thing is Something You Don't Expect

Sometimes the most fun adventures in life are when you are open and just show up to live life.

It may sound silly, but I love to celebrate the little victories in my own journey of self-awareness and growth.

The last Saturday of June was an opportunity where I was brave and showed up. 

My dear friend Sarah was getting married in Cleveland. I went to the wedding without a date/significant other and literally only knew the bride. Even as a loud-mouthed extrovert, I felt a little nervous.

The wedding was beautiful in charming old church and Sarah was stunning.

After the Mass, I made my way to reception venue over looking the water in downtown Cleveland. During the cocktail hour, I confidently walked around and eventually started chatting with a group friends who used to be roommates with the bride. 

We laughed and made small talk over tasty drinks and appetizers.
Our mutual friend, the bride, made her way over to chat and we snapped some pictures.

Eventually it came time to take our seats for dinner. I sat with the most fun group of married couples and singles who knew the bride from college days at John Carroll University.

It was fabulous! We laughed and talked about all the topics you are not supposed to talk about at weddings or family parties, religion and politics. I laughed so hard and met some wonderful people. 

After the official wedding dances, it came time to the DJ to turn down the lights and pump up the music. I was ready to get my dance on.

Now I love to dance, but I have never had so MUCH fun dancing at wedding. I tore up the floor the whole night and only walked off to use the bathroom once or get hydrated with some water. 
I danced my first polka and a few guys asked me to dance on several occasions.

I felt happy, excited, confident, and comfortable just being me...even if I did not have a date.

I cannot remember a time as an adult I had such a wonderful time at a wedding reception.

As I drove home the next morning, I spent some time reflecting and praying in the car.
I felt brave by just showing up and being open to the experience. That openness led to a wonderful, fun evening.

Sometimes we have to celebrate and own the little wins of our daily lives.
Maybe for you it looks different than going to a wedding not knowing a soul or without a date.

It may sound silly to you, but this felt like one of the bravest, most bad ass things a single woman could do.

I am proud of myself. I left thinking and reminding myself I can do scary things in life.

Show up to live your life.
Be open.

You might surprise yourself and learn that sometimes the bravest thing to do is something you were not expecting.

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01 July 2019

How To Trust God in the Waiting

I have a wonderful spiritual director.

She was a professor I had several times in graduate school. Since those days, we have stayed in contact and continues to be a good sounding board for me in different areas of life. She challenges me spiritually but always speaks truth and affirmation into my life, especially when I need it most.

Recently we met in her office, drinking mugs of tea while sitting in cozy arm chairs surrounded by artwork on the walls and piles of books on the bookshelves.

I shared what the Lord has been up to in my life, what was going on in my prayer life, the books I was using for spiritual direction, and how I was doing after a fairly recent break-up. 

I shared while I had perfect peace in the decision to end that relationship, it still felt scary and a little overwhelming to trust God in the waiting. While there was peace, I still felt a little confused as to where my life had me in the present moment.

This wise, bold woman of God smiled and leaned in saying, "Patty, let me share with you a piece of advice a Jesuit spiritual director shared with me while I was single."

He said, "Pat, you everything you already need to live a beautiful and meaningful life. Be open and just show up to live your life."

Be open.

Just show up.

Live your life.

I cannot tell you how much that advice she shared with me resonated in my heart and soul.

Since our direction appointment almost a month ago, I have kept those words on repeat. There is a strange comfort and peace in repeatedly coming back to them.

I am a divorced, annulled young woman who is currently single.

Nothing in my life has gone as I imagined it growing up. I know I am called to the vocation of marriage and the desires of my heart are for marriage and family. However, right now as life stands, those things are not a part of my story.

That feels frustrating, scary, and sometimes even unfair.

To be perfectly honest, it can be really hard to trust God in the waiting. 

How does one do that well, to trust God in the waiting?


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