Can you believe that?
I think I've written about it before... but sometimes I just can't fathom a god who'd love his people so much as to give them new mercies every morning.
It's a good thing they are though, because I need them.
For a while now, I've been thinking about mercy. Since August in particular I suppose, when my mom's best friend's mother died. My mom and "Aunt Kim" have been best friends since before I was born, so Grandma Nancy was like a grandma to me too, sometimes. I'm not generally fond of speaking ill of the dead, but truth be told, she was a mean woman. I think she may have had a drinking problem when we were kids, and I know her taste in men was questionable. Towards the end of her life, Grandma Nancy suffered multiple strokes, so for the last few years she was blind and had a really difficult time getting around. In her old age, I couldn't help but feel sorry for her, even if she was mean. A few weeks before she died, she had another stroke which left her bed-ridden and given 4 to 6 weeks to live by her doctors. Aunt Kim said that she looked scared and spent a lot of time doing what looked like consoling herself. My mom suggested that Aunt Kim and her sisters read some scripture to her. Aunt Kim said she didn't think Grandma Nancy would like that, so I don't think they ever did. I prayed for her a lot in those last few weeks. When I think of her towards the end of her life, so scared of what's to come, it secures my hope in God's mercy. I don't know how God, in His infinite compassion and love, could ever turn someone away from Eternal Life. Isn't that the beauty of it too? He never actually does. We freely choose Heaven or Hell. I'd like to think that Hell is nearly empty, but realistically I doubt that's true. I used to think the free choice meant that when you die, God says "Okay, ______, do you want to go to Heaven or do you want to go to Hell?" I feel like no one would ever choose Hell, but then again, I'm sure that I'm naive. The truth is that we choose Heaven or Hell by our actions, day in and day out. When Grandma Nancy died, people said that she was in a better place now. Of course you can't actually say this, but I wondered if it were true. I think that's just something people say when death happens to console themselves.
A few weeks ago, a family that I'm close to lost their grandfather. He lived a full life with many crosses. At some point along the way, he decided to stop going to church and, from my understanding, rejected the faith altogether. Just a week or so before his death, he came back to the church, and received Jesus in the Holy Eucharist for the first time in years. What a time of rejoicing and thanksgiving!! All it takes is one turn back around and Jesus comes to the ends of the earth to meet you.
Last week, my sweet Uncle Dick died. He was my dad's mother's brother. My grandmother is the youngest of nine children, and Uncle Dick was the last of the Willding brothers to die. The Willding Brothers were infamous in the Catholic scene of Dallas in the 1940's and 1950's. They all played ball at Jesuit High School, and stories are still told of the "idiot who called the quarterback sneak and ran 98 yards for a touchdown to win the State game." My great-grandmother was, from what I'm told, an extremely devout woman. She prayed the rosary everyday. (Secret: I have, by my good fortune, inherited her rosary... it's a secret because if any of my cousins found out I'd have to keep it under lock and key to prevent them from stealing it.) She had nine children, seven of whom survived into adulthood.. and old age, actually. Jack, Bob, Tom, Don, and Dick, all my uncles, have now been laid to rest. My Aunt Mary and my grandmother, affectionately known by them as their baby sisters, seem now not far behind them. Unfortunately, from what I can tell, none of my great-grandmother's nine children had her same dedication to the One True Faith. Hardly any of my cousins were raised Catholic, and even less of the next generation. Today, we prayed a rosary for Uncle Dick's soul, and most of my family couldn't even recite the prayers. It seemed like a mockery of Catholicism. Whenever I pray my great-grandmother's rosary, I ask her to pray more fervently for the family she left behind.
Death doesn't affect me like it used to. I remember in high school a girl died, and I was so upset... even though I barely knew her. I'm not sure if it was the fact that she was so young and had her whole life ahead of her, or just because I wasn't sure of what happens after someone dies. Now when someone dies, I simply thank God for their life and pray for their soul. I trust in God's mercy, and I respect His decision to give us free will.
I've probably said a lot of things in this post that you're not really supposed to say. I'm comfortable with the fact that not everyone goes to Heaven though, because I know that God uses all things for His glory, and that the fact that Hell exists actually proves that God has mercy on us. Life is kinda like a lobby... we're only here so that we can get somewhere else.
I'm not sure how tomorrow will go, but for today, I choose Heaven.
Please pray for the repose of the soul of Uncle Dick, my friend's grandfather, and Grandma Nancy.
Queen of Peace, pray for us.