Dear Family and Friends,
You're all invited to join us at 12:00 noon for Francis' Burial, (or what they now call "Committal,") at the Notre Dame Cemetery in Springvale Maine, on Saturday, May 22, 2010. Francis' and my nephew Rev. Terrence Curry S.J. who officiated at Francis' funeral in Portland will officiate there as well. And we hope Rev. Richard D Bertrand S.J. will come to participate as appropriate. I'm so grateful Francis' siblings and family in Maine, Josephine & Lou Curry of Houlton and Lou McGillicuddy of Cape Elizabeth and maybe others too, will be present for this brief ceremony!
We'll be going out for lunch afterwards at a local restaurant in Springvale or Sanford, its twin town. Join us for that too.
Absorbing the reality of Francis' death is the biggest challenge I have ever faced. I understand those who say the grief never goes away; one just learns to live with it. In fact, because love is wedded to the grief I wouldn't want it any other way. However, I told a friend last week that my gratitude is beginning to outweigh my grief. It's as if there are two rivers within me, -- the river of grief, and the river of gratitude. And the river of grief is beginning to merge with the deeper river of gratitude.
I'm filled with gratitude for the blessing of so many good friends! One told me recently: "You may be physically alone now, but you are surrounded by a loving community." And what a treasure I have, -- having lived with Francis all these years! And now I can say with confidence, -- my greatest treasure is Francis' supportive, loving presence, -- with me at all times.
There's so much going on interiorly I'm doing a lot of journaling. The grief books have mostly given way to even more helpful theology books: The Theology of Death by Karl Rahner; a book by Marc Oraison, Death - And Then What? who wrote the preface for La Mort Est Une Nouvelle Naissance (tr: Death Is A New Birth;) and the illuminating book I paid $114. to get online (because it's out of print and rare, but I really wanted it!) -- The Mystery of Death by Ladislaus Boros.
The material in these books is buoying my spirit and supporting my journey. When I'm ready, I'd like to share what I'm learning (and likely our story) in some form of written material. Who knows? Maybe it'll be "A Letter to our Godchild Rowan." (She'll turn 6 years old next week.) That's not a bad idea either because Rowan is endearing herself to me on those Thursday afternoons when I pick her up at school until her mother Lynn joins us for supper.
I'm beginning to collect some sweet Rowan stories, e.g. Right in the middle of supper last week, without my having said anything earlier about Francis or about love never dying, Rowan said, (and I quickly grabbed a pen and wrote it down on a piece of scrap paper on the kitchen counter:) "Love is in you. God you will find in your heart. God you will find everywhere you go. God will say 'Sorry' when people die. Got it? That's my idea."
Here's another: Two years ago Francis and I bought a 3' statue of St. Francis of Assisi which we placed outside facing the pond. But during the winter, we placed it in the side entrance, facing the outside, side door. When Rowan first saw it she said: "There's Pepere." (She's right! It looks so much like Francis that our friends who helped make funeral preparations decided to bring it to Francis' wake and funeral.)
Well, two Thursdays ago when Rowan and I walked through the side entrance and saw the statue (which I decided to leave there now to "greet visitors" as they open the door,) Rowan picked up a soft old-fashioned brush and brushed off the statue. Then last Thursday she picked up the brush again and said, while brushing it: "Have you been taking care of Pepere? You've got to use this brush to keep him clean! Do it every day!" I was flabbergasted and delighted.
Later that afternoon when Rowan and I went into the living room, we passed the two large posters of photos of Francis which friends had put together for the wake and funeral reception. (The posters are still there because I plan to add more photos, have them shrink-wrapped and put aside for posterity, -- meaning Rowan.) When I finished putting a big book back on the bookcase near the posters and turned around, I saw Rowan hugging the large picture of Francis centered at the head of the poster. So I said: "Can I have a hug too?" But Rowan said, -- "No, you're in the picture too, so I gave you a hug with Pepere."
Thank you for your prayers dear family and friends. I still need them!