Tag Archives: Death

All my memories gather round her…

All my memories, gather round her
Miners lady, stranger to blue water
Dark and dusty, painted on the sky
Misty taste of moonshine, teardrop in my eye.
Country roads, take me home
To the place, I be-long
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads.
I hear her voice, in the morning hours she calls to me
The radio reminds me of my home far a-way
And driving down the road I get a feeling
That I should have been home yesterday, yesterday
Country roads, take me home
To the place, I be-long
West Virginia, mountain momma
Take me home, country roads
The Friday night before Mother’s day last year I was able to spend with my mother.  By this point the lung cancer that she had fought for almost three years had reached its apex.  Bedridden, without the use of her swollen limbs, laboring for breath, and on a constant morphine drip which barely took the edge off the pain; Even then there were small islands of clarity and respite amongst a sea of suffering.  Final visits from children lit up her personality,  final jokes with friends brought laughter, and final conversations with loved ones brought tears.  I, her son, had not taken to the Catholic faith as she had so earnestly hoped, however that night and morning was one of transcendental significance for me.
It was in essence for me the dark night of my soul.  The unbearable weight of the unknown and the torture of a loved one in agony tore at the person I thought I knew myself to be.  Throughout the night I read the bible and prayed as I hadn’t done since I was a child.  I chanted the Hail Mary as one of the only prayers I remembered in order to keep in touch with her through my voice.  I played some of her favorite music in the background.  At last she fell asleep.
When I awoke she was awake and in pain.  Again, I tried to catch up the doses of morphine to get on top of the pain.  In a rare moment she snapped at me and I must have looked pathetic because she apologized and said “I’m sorry Jess, I’m sorry”.  Now I’m pretty sure being apologized to by your mother as she writhes in mortal distress is as bad as it gets.  I would rather have had her curse me a thousand times then to feel that she needed to say she was sorry.
I knelt and cried on her hand assuring her it was ok, that she was my everything, and that I loved her.  In the background I heard the song Country Roads play.  That song with forever bring me back to that moment.  She was the sun setting in my sky, without her my world was going dark in my heart.
Today, all my memories gather round her as the center of my life. Her light has dimmed yet new life has opened up like the morning sun.  Her grandson, the very longing of her existence appeared in perfect measure to bring light where there was darkness.
I believe it doesn’t matter which religion, or denomination, or tradition one comes from.  I’m not sure it even matters if one is religious per se at all, but I did find solace in knowing that at least in her mind she was being born into God as her body died.  The fact that she died that Sunday, on Mother’s day and Pentecost is quite significant.  Christian fellowship and the power of prayer carried her spirit beyond her and into the lives of those who knew her. Through her unfailing generosity, and through her courageous compassion in the face of the death of so many of her loved ones, and finally of herself, she transcended death and, for me at least, bore witness to the truth of the essence of religion.
I look in my son’s face and I see her stare back at me and smile.  Her final gift is in his life, and I know her spirit is in him, around him, and above him.
Happy Mother’s day meme…

 



Baylen Smile

 

Hello 2009

It’s been a while and no wonder, the computer is in a room as cold as outside, and I’ve been busy with the nursery, the bathroom, and life in general. February 2nd is still the due date! Life continues to amaze and challenge. What a year 2008 was. From lung cancer claiming the life of my mom back in May to finding out my wife Holly is pregnant; it’s been a year in which change has been prominent. From the collapse of capitalism to the election of Obama, old paradigms seem to have shifted and new long term patterns are emerging. Perhaps 2008 represented the beginning of the final hour of the old age. As a child summers seemed to last forever, and now I am about to become a father and assume the greatest responsibility life has to offer. Life continues to amaze and challenge. It’s really a mind expanding experience to be part of someone’s entry into life, as much as it was to be part of someone’s exit from it. I am thankful for all of it, the joy, the sorrow, we press on regardless.

Here are some pictures of the nursery, enjoy!:

changing table

changing table

The old

The old

it's finished!

it's finished!

Rocking chair and lamp

Rocking chair and lamp

Eulogy to my mother: Louise Jean (Lapierre) Locantore (September 28, 1951 – May 11th, 2008)

Lou-Lou.  Louise is gone.  Meme’s angel died on Sunday, Mother’s day and Pentecost.  Quite a statement Mom! The birth of the church coinciding with the celebration of mothers.  She was a hot ticket as she liked to say.  As unassuming a person as she wanted to be she had some amazing reservoirs of compassionate energy and strength.  The sacrifices she made in life to benefit her family, her friends, and her church were enormous.

Throughout her sickness she continued to share the warmth of her heart, the bite of her wit, and the depth of her faith.  The manner in which her last days and hours transformed us all is something which is difficult to put into words.   Spirit is a tough experience to talk about.  What is telling is that as the story of Pentecost goes, shortly after Jesus’ ascension the apostles were all gathered together in an upstairs room in Jerusalem.  When there came a violent wind and there appeared to them tongues of fire.  This Holy Spirit which came over those apostles I’ve never really understood to be honest with you.  It always seemed so abstract.

Literally, Spirit is like a breath of air to Life.  It is the spirit that is with us in the first and last breaths we take.  It is the spirit which breathes life into this mortal body.  It is the spirit which prompts people to speak, to learn, and to care, and to communicate.  She embodied the spirit of her faith to the fullest and her life and her death testify to its strength.

Her life might not have been the easiest, but one would never know that from her.  From experiencing both her father passing away when she was 17 to her two older brothers and future husband going to Vietnam, to her mother then dying when she was 21,  I cannot imagine a place in my heart that could withstand such a burden.  But she bore it, with grace, strength and humility.  She raised two children and kept her family together through it all.  A more loving and supportive mom I cannot imagine.

I look at the countless lives she’s touched to give testimony to the qualities of her own loving.  From Her special devotion to young people to her unending compassion for the sick and dying, her boundless energy was difficult to keep up with.  I never fully understood her devotion to caring for and being with the dying until having had the honor to share in her passing with so many others who all loved her as much as I did. 

From the heights of suffering she talked with us and joked and laughed and smiled.  From the depths of fear and doubt she comforted us and cried with us.  As she stood in life for causes close to her heart such as the fight against cancer, the support of young people, and the role of women within the Catholic Church, so too those things stood for her in her time of need.

She died an amazing death.  The gathering of the spirit in that room was incredible.  Her life has changed the world through those who knew her.  It is because of her I am not afraid.  It is because of her that I am not in pain. It is because of her that I am full of wonder and admiration rather than sadness and loss.  For today her spirit lives in all of us, beyond fear, beyond pain,  

          While the world is certainly a diminished place today, I feel in my heart that through the miracle which she accomplished, her spirit is now amongst all of us.  There was a point shortly after she had passed where out of the pain I was feeling I felt this overwhelming feeling of joy and almost laughter.  I cannot explain it but in that moment I spoke with my mother as if she stood in front of me and, I know that there is no need to suffer, no need to grieve.  Be happy for her; embrace her cheerful and loving spirit.  The sadness is ended, there is no more fear, there no more pain.  Hear her laughter again and know that there is only love.

 

                       Mom

 

Ex Nihilo Nihil Fit (Originaly posted 7/10/07)

From nothing, nothing comes.  This expression is an ancient form of what today we call the laws of conservation of mass and energy.  These laws express that neither mass not energy can be neither created nor destroyed.  We may dismiss these statements as mere artifacts of science, removed from our lives here on earth.  The expression of literal truth in these statements does not affect only physics or even the study of science in general.  The transfer of mass or matter into energy and visa versa underlies the very existence of the planets, the evolution of life on earth, and the life of the human species.

When our father Parmenides first taught of the nature of change in what we now call the universe, humans had already understood the logic of the stars in the sky.  We forget today that humans have evolved with the book of life literally written in the night sky above.  As Plato envisioned in the allegory of the cave found in The Republic, humans would someday find themselves experiencing life by looking at shadows projected on a wall.  Unaccustomed to the light of the day above, we spend our lives interacting with the products of other human’s creation. 

In humanity’s short time in the cave we have used our tools to dissect reality to almost incomprehensible scales of size and of speed.  We have learned that there are more stars in the universe than individual grains of sand throughout the entire Earth.  We have learned that there are more molecules in a drop of water than there are drops of water in all the world’s oceans.  We have spread over the face of the globe, affecting every biological and environmental system. 

Yet, for all that we have gained by entering Plato’s cave, we have by eating the apple of the tree of knowledge blinded ourselves to the world beyond our own perceptions.   What is it exactly you may ask that we have given up?  What was this secret that humans living as mammals under the stars had that we have lost? 

When Einstein stated in his equation E=Mc2  in a literal sense, he expressed a universal truth, not just for physical objects, but of our very everyday lives. The transformation of matter for energy and energy for matter may seem remote; however, it is the very logic of life.  When we eat we transform the matter we eat into energy.  When we breathe, sleep, think, fight… we transfer energy into matter. 

What is death then other than a transfer from matter to energy?  What is birth other than the transfer of energy into matter?  Is there something lost in death?  What is gained in birth?  In a very real sense, nothing is lost and nothing gained.  In the entire universe.. the vast sum of all that exists, has existed, or will ever exist.. nothing is created and nothing destroyed.

What of the Big Bang you may ask?  Did not the universe at one time not exist and then come into being and continues to expand?  Did not God create the world in seven days?  Do not Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva dance? 

All I ask is please think of what you believe when you think of the above paragraph.  If the universe came into being from nothing, if God created existence from nothing, truly in what sense does the universe of God exist?

There can only be two possible solutions.. Either in a very real sense God, the universe and everything in it do not exist; or the way we understand the question is a matter of our perspective and perception.  The members of the cave are blinded by the light when the look at reality.  

How can we then take even humanity’s greatest understanding of the physical and spiritual world and think that we have grasped reality?  The understanding of existence as a transfer of matter and energy where nothing is lost and nothing gained points at our highest potential as humans as well as our inescapable limitations.  There is cosmic irony in this; yet, it is the very dissatisfaction with this explanation that has driven humanity forward.  It is yet to be seen whether we as humans will choose to fulfill its destiny, or whether we sink back into the trillions and trillions of years and light-years of dark, lifeless space.  It is a choice for each of us to make each moment.  It is this very choice which we know as existence.

Map of the Universe from Cobe infra-red satilite