Today marks eleven years since I buried my dad. For Janie and me this is a very special day in our memories. I remembered dad in a special way at Mass this morning.
The readings at Mass continued with the theme of imminent departure and the reassurances given that all will be okay. Paul tells his followers at Ephesus that he has done all that he can for them. He has done his best for them, and that brings him confidence that they are ready to step out on their own. He tells them to not be afraid, to let go of him in a physical way and count on him with a spiritual presence.
Jesus continues to reassure his followers that his return to the Father is not an abandonment, but rather is necessary in order that they can spread their wings and fly. He has prepared them for what lies ahead and now he empowers them to step out.
Sometimes we need to be reassured by those that we love if we are to move forward and to let go. With dad's funeral anniversary fresh on my heart, I remembered the day when Janie and I came to the realization that we needed to reassure dad that we were ready, that it was all right to let go and be embraced by God, that he had done a great job, that we loved him deeply, that we would take care of mom, and that it was okay to let go of the suffering and struggle of the pneumonia that was devastating his life. It was probably one of the most difficult things we have ever done, but I believe that it brought dad the reassurance that he needed to be welcomed by God. He died surrounded by our love, embraced by our presence (Janie never left his side for those last days), and with the hint of a smile on his face. Janie had told him that his sister Genevieve, who was a great cook, was waiting for him in heaven, probably with a freshly baked pie. He got that glint in his eye, that little smile on his face, and then closed his eyes peacefully in death. He was ready to let go and let us take up the mantle. I will always remember.