Have you ever received an extraordinary gift and taken it for granted? How many times has something really awesome happened in your life and yet you failed to acknowledge the source of the miracle? Unfortunately, Facebook reminded me that I am guilty of these charges.
I was taken aback this week when I logged onto Facebook only to find that photos from mom’s past birthdays were the first images to greet me. The site has a way of doing this – pulling up memories and reminding you of where you were one year ago…two years ago, etc. Some folks like this feature, others – not so much. The unexpected surprise of seeing mom’s birthday photos caused mixed emotions as one can imagine – happiness at the sight of her beautiful face and deep sadness that she is no longer with us to celebrate another birthday together.
Mom’s birthday is this Sunday January 8, and it has been on all our minds for the past month. We are not quite sure how we’ll get through it and Facebook reminded me why – the photos show clearly that each year has been an opportunity to gather in love as a family and celebrate an extraordinary woman who touched our lives in the most profound way. A woman who gave without wanting anything in return – who sought nothing but the love of her family and whose faith in God was so deep that she drew others to Him through her very being. The photos also reminded me that we HAD a chance to gather over the past 3 years with this incredible woman who was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer – THAT is the miracle. Did we take it for granted? I hope not, but perhaps in a way we did as we hoped the prayers and cancer fighting drugs would never stop working. But alas, they did and mom was called home to God on September 9, 2016 – 4 months before her 76 birthday.
In a recent homily, Bishop Robert Barron said “When God breaks into our natural world, we should be astonished.” I pondered this for some time and realized that God DID break into our natural world by allowing mom to live for 3 more years with stage 4 cancer. We had 3 more years of birthdays, holidays, dinners and Cape Cod sunsets. We had 3 more years of love, laughter, smiles and precious memories with a person who made us better than we were. Indeed we are blessed – we should be astonished.
Bishop Barron’s words encourage me to be hopeful this week rather than sad. It is not easy for me, my dad, Liz or Joe but it is something we will try to do, in honor of our beloved mother. I encourage you to take a look at your life and reflect on the moments when God has broken through – be astonished and be grateful! Gratitude leads to peace and peace leads to joy. Mom taught me that and her advice has always been the very best.