Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Promise of Easter

A few weeks ago while cleaning out a drawer, I found another journal that Dori kept when she was sick. While bearing her heavy cross, she called cancer her "opportunity" to get closer to Christ. That was Dorothy Ruth Sawyer Brown, the mother of my children.

Today, Easter Sunday, is a joyful day. The pain of Good Friday - the grief of Mary and Jesus' followers and the scourging and crucifixion of our Lord and Savior - has become His promise of redemption and renewal on this most holy day. This morning at Easter Mass, I thought about all of this, as well as Dori, as the trumpets and violins beckoned the congregation. Ebullient altar flowers stood at attention, seemingly aware of the meaning of the moment. Jesus is risen. We are saved.

Two years ago, once the tremendous shock of Dori's passing started to wane, life changed. At times, it was chaotic and unrecognizable. The silence in the home could be deafening, the pained voices of loved ones hard to hear. Peaceful moments were rare. I traded one cross for another. My role as caregiver was over. My role as a widower, raising two children, was underway. What were the answers? What should I do? Everyone I knew was talking, but I couldn't hear what anyone was saying. Are you kidding me, as my best friend often says?

Last fall, life started getting bumpier as teenagers grew. Kathryn started driving, and the thought of another loss was too much for this parent to bear. I was not ready. I didn't do well. It was time for a new direction, so I started making changes.

Dori's death created a vacuum that filled gradually. You cannot raise two children on your own, have a successful career and stay balanced, without some help from others. That support, however, sometimes had strings. Boundaries dropped, and a new dynamic existed before I knew it. New challenges emerged. A few said hurtful things. A crossroad was reached. Refocus and a new plan were needed. Boundaries needed to be redrawn. I needed to take care of me, and especially my children.

My new plan: I would keep unconditional love around our inner circle. There would be no strings. Family members saw this recalibration, some accepting and able to make the adjustment. Others I love unfortunately are incapable at this moment. I will always be open to working with anyone within these boundaries, but it will be through unconditional love.

Not to anyone's surprise, I still think of Dori every day, often. I call on her spirit and example for help. Her wisdom, patience and love are no longer of this earth, but if I stop, breathe and listen, she is there. Her smile and laugh, adorned in His Light, never fades. I cannot tell you how much this comforts and guides me to teach my incredible children and live the life I've been given.

In today's homily, Father Jerry simply said, "Jesus is the answer," whatever the question. We all have or will have a cross or crosses to bear. Life will change; ready or not, the moment will arrive.

My task, and perhaps yours, will be to stay in sight of the answer - Jesus, our Redeemer and Savior - who promises us hope and eternal life. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.