Today is the anniversary of Chris' death, 17 years ago. The sting of his suicide has lessened a great deal for me, as I have learned to forgive myself for my bitter and angry words directed toward him just hours before his death, but the solace and pain left by this day lingers.
Today it came with an added sharpness, as this afternoon I learned that a dear friend and spiritual mother had passed away after her short battle with cancer. Ann leaves behind a loving husband and three teenaged children and a whole community who relied upon her quiet leadership and steadfast example.
I first came to know Ann well while working on the Feast of Mary Magdalene celebrations that were held in my parish each July — a hallmark celebration hosted by the women of the parish which pushed the envelope and challenged the male-centered Mass and patriarchal language and themes. She reached out to me to participate in this, knowing it was exactly what I was looking for. She had a way with recognizing people's gifts and utilizing them.
Later, we worked closely together in the RCIA, where we shared our faith deeply with those preparing for election into the Catholic Church. I don't think Ann had any idea how much her words and example truly influenced my everyday faith, from discussions about "praying always," to deeply peeling back the mystical layers of labyrinths, to the philosophizing about the very nature of hell, and what we take with us when we leave this world.
I'll also remember the words from other people about how much Ann's words touched and taught them. Delle told me just weeks before her own death that Ann had said to her "everything is going to be just perfect Delle." And those words meant the world to her brought her so much deep peace and acceptance, both for her and for her daughter. It was a blessing to her. I could tell countless stories from parishioners about Ann's example.
She will be greatly missed.
Ann would hate for me to call her a saint. She was deeply humble and at the very thought of any kind of big attention focused on her, she might sneak away to the school cafeteria and scrub the tables with Clorox wipes as penance. My prayer for Ann: that she finally knows how much God loves and appreciates all of her hard work! And my thoughts for her family is that they find every grace and comfort that heaven can afford them.