How do a 57-year-old husband (my brother, Mike), three daughters ages 16 to 27, a 90-something Mom, plus siblings, and countless friends and extended family say good-bye to a saint on earth? That became the task at hand: finding the ways to let go and honor and remember and grieve and plan and prepare and celebrate and be grateful and stay faithful.
By the grace of God, it all comes together. Flowers. Written tributes. Pictures. Receiving friends and family and their outpourings of love, food and service.
Underpinning it all is faith, expressed through individual and group prayers and expressions of gratitude and praise to God, as well as attendance at church on Sunday, a rosary service on Tuesday and a funeral Mass and the graveside rites on Wednesday.
I stayed from Saturday to Wednesday. I don't know what I was able to do, but I was acting in faith that it was where I was supposed to be, even if as nothing more than a quiet presence.
Mostly I pray. I prayed and tried to be a friend and presence during Elaine's journey with cancer since late 2013. I continued to this past week and still do now. I don't know what to say or do or write. About the only thing I did with confidence was sing "Trust and Obey," the request of my brother after we had sung it at church Sunday. And even the strength and confidence of singing Wednesday was God, not me.
I will never understand why a vibrant 54-year-old saint on Earth must leave this life so soon. The magnitude of such a mystery is second only to the great sense of sadness and loss from her physical absence.
And yet, we know she is very much with us. The faith of my brother and their daughters and her Mom and siblings are an inspiration and example to all. We will remember Elaine and be grateful to God for his rich blessings to and through her and her family.
And words still seem so inadequate to express all that is in my heart. In fact, they not only seem inadequate, they seem to possibly minimize what I and others have experienced and may now be feeling.
Lord, I just lift this up to you as I try to preserve thoughts and memories associated with our beloved Elaine.