People are wonderful.
I am grateful beyond words for the outpouring of support and prayer we have experienced over the past week. And it has been a week, exactly.
Thousands of prayers said, rosaries prayed. Scores, if not hundreds of Masses offered.
Michael was always quite firm when we discussed this element of the future. “Don’t you dare stop praying for me,” he would say.
Hundreds of supportive emails and blog comments.
A few dozen cards waiting for me when I returned last night.
Individuals who came from afar to Florida to be with us: Bishop Baker, Fr. Mitch Pacwa, Bishop Martin Holley, several other priests, Deacon Terry and his wife from Birmingham, Charles from Birmingham, Fr. Ray from Birmingham, other old classmates, my family.
The family that picked Fr. Mitch up from the airport and hosted him.
Fr. Brian Flanagan who celebrated such a lovely, appropriate vigil.
Dear, dear Johnette Benkovic who shifted some plans and was there Monday morning at the Cathedral. If you know her story of loss, you know how special her presence was both there and during the time I had to speak to her afterward.
There was assistance at every turn. Ian Richardson of Aquinas and More sent memorial cards. I tried to scan the back, but it wouldn’t come out clearly. It’s pretty simple. His name, dates and then “God Alone.” If you want to understand the words on the back read this old blog post of Michael’s.
Mary Jane Ballou came to the funeral home on Sunday and played the harp for three hours during the visitation, sparing us from canned music and adding her own special gift and presence. God bless her, and it was just wonderful to meet her. She is wonderful.
My – our – old friend Dorothy was a rock. She is always clear-headed, and this time was no exception. Things that needed to be done that I could not get to compute, she did.
My – our – old friend Kathryn who sacrificed coming to the funeral Mass so she could help the wonderful children of Michael’s old and close friend Pete take care of little Michael.
Brian, Tony, Joe and Pete – and other old friends who came to mourn and honor Michael, the “glue,” as Brian said, of their group.
The over 25 priests and 3 bishops who concelebrated Mass. The Cathedral musicians, the servers.
Danielle Bean has facilitated a collection. I am in awe of the generosity, and a little bit in shock. I will have more to say about that later, in deep, specific, gratitude.
I have much to say, but at this point, I am not saying most of it here, but in a more private space. Those of you who think it is strange I am “saying” anything at all just know that I am a writer, a communicator, and that is how I process. Some would process through piecing quilts together or cooking or going for walks or painting – for me it is writing and things don’t even begin to make sense for me unless I write them. Which I am in private journaling, and in a more private public space for friends. Some of it might find its way over here, some might not. The issue is both privacy and the fact that in the Internet world, what happens – for good or for ill – is what you write is picked up and discussed by strangers in other places, where you don’t even know they’re talking about you. Sometimes that is fine, but in a situation like this the prospect doesn’t thrill me. I have read, I think, most of the appreciations of and call for prayers for us on other blogs, and they are all beautiful and I am so appreciate of them all. But the processing of this is another matter.
As the week goes on, I will be pulling together some remembrances. So see this as a last call for that. Email me what you have.
We are back, we are crawling back into life. I just returned from the YMCA, where I spoke to the manager on duty from last Tuesday. There was another employee who was there at the time and was the first to work on Michael, but he had not come in yet. I hope I will be able to speak to him later today. I really need to know as much detail as I can, and I need to speak to people while it is relatively fresh in their minds. A bit later: I just received a call from someone who knows the person who was on the treadmill next to Michael. I hope to speak with that person soon.
Your lesson from today: Whatever you are doing, even working out, carry ID. Michael had only started working out there, so they really didn’t know him, he had left his ID in a locker, and it took them – including the police – a few hours to figure out who he was and finally contact me.
I do not know what will happen with blogging and me. I had been in discussions about the future of my blogging with a larger entity the week before Michael died, and I think we are all still interested in that, but I’ll have to see. There are other issues arising as to our financial future and my professional life that might make that not possible because of time issues. We’ll see.
There is one aspect of this that I could never have anticipated. You can anticipate grief a bit. Sadness. Loss. Even shock.
But what I could not have anticipated and find a particular mystery is the strangeness of it. Christopher kept saying, “I just don’t get it. It’s weird.”
It is confusing and strange. And here, I am not talking about the question of “Why did this happen?” or “What could I have done?” although those questions certainly recur.
It is surreal and odd. Here one minute, gone the next, without a chance to say goodbye. Sunday’s experience did not really help in that regard for as fearful as I was, anticipating, when the moment came, without getting too specific, the line from the gospel flashed through my soul, “Why do you seek the living among the dead?” I could not connect that experience with the smiling face in the pictures surrounding us and the voice still echoing in my ears and memory. And the fear was gone. But the dissonance remained. And does.
To use the old phrase: It does not compute.
There is a mystery, as I was telling Dorothy, and what I feel driven to do is not “understand” it, really. It is not even to “accept” it. It is something different, and I don’t get what that is – where that space is and waht it looks like.
I am opening comments on this post, but with a specific purpose. If you have had similar experiences, or any experiences with loss and grieving that you would like to share, please do. It will be helpful to me and to others.
The word of the past few days: Euthus. Immediately. Perhaps I will explain why soon.
I am so grateful for the comments here. It is a testimony to the truth of what (I think) Chesterton said: “Be kind, for everyone is fighting a great battle.”