08 May 2013

A Troubled Heart

In the days following my last post, I forgot about my grandmother. Well, didn't forget so much as stopped letting myself dwell on everything for a while. I really wold only remember most and feel the worst when I was at work. I'm not entirely sure why that was the case, but it probably had to do with being forced to be around people who didn't know what was going on and being unable to escape into my own activity.

During Mass on this Sunday night, however, everything seemed to hit me again. Presented with the Truth, reminded of God's grace and Christ's death and eternity and all of it, I could only wonder how truly merciful God is, if Christ embraced my grandmother in His resurrection, how I could have done anything to affect her eternity. In the midst of the guilt stage of grief (those grief stage things probably hold some validity), I asked myself how I could have done anything to help her salvation, or to make myself feel like I had done all I could for her. Could I ever pray enough? Did I completely fail her by not getting any last rites for her? The readings that day, though fantastic on their own, seemed to make things more difficult.

The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.

St. John continues to describe the holy city, all its splendor and perfection and beauty and I couldn't help wondering whether she was enjoying the presence of God and His kingdom.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.

I'm sure Jesus had all the best intentions when He said this, and Father did as well, encouraging us to take heart and accept such radiant peace. But I couldn't feel it. Close to tears nearly the entire homily, I couldn't help but feel anything but peaceful. Not for a lack of trying, of course, because I really did want to feel well about this and like I'd been the best, most charitable and faithful grand-daughter I could be. But doubt creeps in somehow. Not doubt that God won't make good on His word and give you some of His peace like a cool drink after drought. But doubt that you could let yourself feel such peace, because somehow you must have messed up and not deserve it, or somehow you would never get over it because in the moment it still hurts so much.

And you wonder how long this sort of thing goes on. How long does one feel this pain after losing someone close to them? This was the first death that ever happened to a close family member, but I was taken aback by it. I did love my great grandmother in my life, but I didn't realize how important she was to me. I didn't realize how much a symbol of strong faith and motherhood (and simply womanhood) she was. I didn't realize that she was the glue of the family. I didn't fully notice how central she was to the lives of our family here.

It seemed to me like she would always be there, like she couldn't possibly die because she had always come back from so many things that, even at my adult age, I began to think her immortal. I couldn't picture the day she wouldn't be there, or ever predict how great an effect her death would have. I can't remember the last time I told her I loved her on my own and not as a response. I can't remember if I thought about her often or if she just slipped into the back of my mind because I supposedly had other, more important things to focus on.

I feel so much guilt and heartache and fear about the future that I don't know how or when it's possible to receive peace. When, if ever, will I not let my heart be troubled or afraid?

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