This week was an anniversary of sorts for me. Tuesday would have been my father’s eighty-fifth birthday and the sixth anniversary of my near fatal bike/car accident. The date is bittersweet. I am sad my father is gone but happy that he is home with our Lord. I am jubilant that I survived the accident and have been given a bit more time.
I replay those events in my head sometimes, the day my dad died and four years earlier, when I almost did. My father had been released from ICU. Something was different, but he was glad to be going home to his own bed. The call from my mom the next morning shocked me as it did my siblings and children. Dad had peacefully died in his sleep.
I still wonder to this day, if before he drifted off to sleep almost two years ago, if he realized that the story of his life would come to a close that very night. Did he sense it in any way? He lived his life in great practice and devotion to the Catholic faith. He prayed multiple rosaries daily. He suffered for over fifty-two years. But did he sense anything different that night before he floated into dreamland?
I wonder the same things about my untimely encounter four years earlier, with the driver who did not see me. One moment I am smelling the fragrant blossoms of the citrus trees as I peddled, the next moment I am face down on the pavement having no idea how I got there.
I did not sense that I was moments away from a losing battle with a car.
In a second it was over, and I never saw or sensed or ever imagined it was coming. I believe with all my heart that it should have been much worse than it was. Only seventeen fractures, lots of road rash and a concussion. Why my left leg which made first contact with the front of the car was not crushed; yet the steel bars on my bike were snapped, still blows my mind. No internal damage. No permanent brain damage, no broken arms. I like to think my guardian angel was working overtime that morning, lessening the severity of the damage.
I also like to think that the Blessed Mother was there for my father too, that Jesus came and lifted him up to heaven, such a faithful son, husband, father, and grandfather was he.
So, all this gets me thinking of the preciousness of each and every moment of my life. The end is going to come sooner or later, for me and for you. My husband says I am already on my sixth life, so I am running out of chances, and that is assuming I get more than six. We should not be surprised when people near us pass away. We were born to die one day. Sure, it is sad to imagine not seeing that person. I miss my father terribly at times, but how he lived his life pointed to his trust in a higher power, a Someone who created and loved him even when he messed up. Jesus was willing to die for him and asked that he walk in His footsteps and follow Him. This he did, teaching his children and grandchildren to do the same. We will continue to pray for his soul and all those who have gone before us. We must.
We can never assume someone is in heaven.
I love the prayer Jesus gave to St Gertrude the Great. Tradition tells us that each time this prayer is said devoutly, 1,000 souls are released from Purgatory. To me, that speaks of God’s generosity, and the fact that there must be a lot of souls waiting there for our prayers. How merciful and kind is the Lord, to give our souls an opportunity to be purified rather than condemned, when they are not quite worthy of heaven yet.
Eternal Father, I offer Thee the Most Precious Blood of Thy Divine Son, Jesus, in union with the masses said throughout the world today, for all the holy souls in purgatory, for sinners everywhere, for sinners in the universal church, those in my own home and within my family. Amen.
Memorize this prayer. Teach it to your spouse and kids. Recite it frequently. This what we CAN do for our brothers and sisters there, and you can bet they will gratefully pray for us when they reach heaven. It’s a win-win.
The Church during Lent gives us time to reflect on the shortness of our days. In all my catastrophic surprise illnesses of late, not once did I sense their impending doom. They came like lightening out of nowhere. Given that experience, I attempt to live with a realization of the unknown hour when it is game over Barb. I want to live ready for that unknown moment and you should too. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Get yourself in order. Get to confession regularly. Telling a priest your sins is nowhere as frightening as explaining to God why you refused to take advantage of the Sacrament He left for this very purpose. The clock is ticking. Do not make the mistake of thinking you have more time than you do. Do not let your life end with a litany of would haves and should haves.
Go! Time is of the essence.