A Lesson in Joy: The Death of a Young Catholic Wife and Mother
Although I never met Emilie Lemmons, a writer for The Catholic Spirit newspaper (Archdiocese of St. Paul and Mineapolis), I saw her work regularly, and I was shocked and saddened to learn of her death on Christmas Eve from lung cancer. She was just 40.
Immediately, I became angry. How on earth can a person with stage 4 cancer that is progressively getting worse feel joyous, I thought. My resentment seethed, and I sat like a hard stone all through Mass.
When the intentions mentioned those who are ill, I identified myself immediately and felt like such an outsider — just like the homeless people and other people on the fringes with whom I was lumped in the same intention. I felt miles away from normal, and it was hard to accept.
I’ve been like this for a few weeks now, ever since I was hospitalized for a week in November for a pulmonary embolism and fluid build-up in my lungs, ever since a CT scan found even more tumors growing there.
It’s hard to cope when I’m so angry, depressed and hopeless — yet somehow it feels fitting in this dark season of Advent.
In these weeks, we watch and wait, lighting candles that progressively light the way to Christmas Day. In my own life, when I feel so plunged in darkness, I watch and wait as I contemplate what those candles might illuminate. . . .
Sometimes I see myself in the description of people who fight toward a specific outcome and are “haunted by the specter of failure and disappointment.” It’s the mother in me. I rage against the possibility that I might die and leave my children motherless, my husband a widower. Even though the medical odds are against me, and my rational mind knows I could die, it is hard for me to accept death as an outcome.
What if I just let go of that? What if I trust that even if I die tomorrow or next month or next year, things will somehow work out? What if I allow myself to put the outcome in God’s hands and just live intensely in the present, absorbing and em bracing life as it happens? It’s not indifference or admitting defeat; it’s seeing the bigger picture. . . . (read more)