joy marbled with sorrow...

Today was given over to yard work, tonight the celebration of birthdays. As dinner was coming to a close, a message arrived from my sister about the death of a woman close to our family. She grew up with my sisters in Maryland. Her parents were my folks drinking buddies. She cared for both my mother and father in their failing years. And now I read that she has taken her own life.

Isn't that the core of what life is: gracious and grand joy marbled with excruciating and unexpected sorrow? I never knew her well. I was long gone from the ins and outs of daily family life by the time she entered the story. So I searched out a prayer book that I have used for almost 30 years after getting home tonight. Fr. Ed Hays wrote Prayers for the Domestic Church to help us honor the holy in our humanity and mark the sacred in our everyday lives. Sadly, there is nothing in here about suicide. Still, because I have used this prayer book at my brother's wedding in San Francisco, the baptism of my nephew, the funerals for both of my sisters and both of my parents, it is a source of comfort for me. I have notes from each of these liturgies tucked into the book's leather cover. It, along with the Book of Common Prayer, is often my resting place and source of solace when my own words fail.

With every death, expected or bewildering, Fr. Ed asks us to give thanks to the Angel of Death who reminds us to cherish the love we have shared and rededicate ourselves to living whatever time remains with gusto. Tonight I give thanks for the love Gm shared with my family and so many others. I hold her up to the Lord's eternal embrace trusting that her anguish is now finally over.

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