Copyright © 2006 Ed Bagley
A friend of mine recently suffered the loss of her father. I bought her a sympathy card and then felt that at such a difficult time in her life it was so inadequate. So I wrote her the following letter and share it with you because I believe my message to her is timeless in a time of need.
My Dearest Mary,
I am sorry to hear about the loss of your father.
Words on a card are so inadequate to express how we feel when describing a tragedy. There is such a sting when our heart breaks from sadness, and we sense that we will never be the same. We seek understanding and sometimes find ourselves alone with our thoughts when we ask: Who could have meant so much to us as the one we have lost?
I find it difficult to accept the notion that death is part of life. One seems so alive and real, and the other so quiet and distant. I would be totally lost in accepting what is so natural and normal were it not for the fact that my life journey is also my faith journey.
Thank goodness that God is in my life. He stands with us at our greatest hour of need. God brings us three vital elements when tragedy strikes our life:
1) He is with us when we are with Him.
2) He loves us and comforts us as no one else can.
3) He takes us to a better place.
I found I could bridge the gap between life and death, and death and life, through my faith walk with understanding and wisdom. Understanding comes from developing a gentle heart, and maturity in living.
Wisdom, however, does not come from learning. One could read every book in every library in the world and still not have wisdom. Wisdom only comes from God, and we must ask Him for it. It is through the grace of God that we enjoy wisdom, He freely gives it to us, but we must ask Him for it.
It has been 11 years since I flew back to Michigan to be a caregiver for my mother during her final days. She displayed such courage and grace when her time to pass had come. It was a beautiful example of modeling at a critical time for both of us.
I was very close to my mother. You have perhaps seen the medal I wear around my neck. Many who see it think that it is a medal of Mary. It is a medal of St. Mildred, an obscure saint who lived in England during the early Middle Ages and died around the year 700.
My mother Mildred was not Catholic, she was Lutheran. She had lived a somewhat turbulent life early on, and had her only two daughters (and my only two sisters) precede her in death. She lived her later life as the very best person she could be.
I wear the medal to honor her, but the truth is that I want her to know that she is in my heart and will always have a special place in my heart.
I believe that God is at work in the world today, and I choose to believe that my mother is as well. When I was a child, I was raised by my grandparents who taught me my prayers in German. When I said the words “In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost” I wondered how safe I might be.
Today we say the “Holy Spirit” and for years I wondered who or what was the Holy Spirit. Now I understand that the Holy Spirit is manifested in the love we show to one another.
The real heroes of our time are not the rich, the famous, the rock stars, or the professional athletes. The real heroes are the people who reach out to others with loving kindness.
It is an act very similar to integrity, it is what you do in the dark when no one is looking, and especially when you do it without personal gain or glory. My mother was one of those heroes.
After my mother died I flew back home to Washington and something amazing happened. When I returned to work, I felt her presence about me every day for two weeks. It was as if she was reaching out to comfort me.
It seemed as if by the grace of God she had been lifted up to do His work as a guardian angel here on Earth, and by the grace of God had been given a two-week gift to minister to anyone of her choice before she began her new life.
After 14 days I felt her leave, but I was overcome with the knowledge that God is indeed at work in the world through His minions of believers.
I was immediately reminded of my grandfather and namesake, Edward Louis Baker, a self-taught man of integrity, decency and honesty who lived his life as a happy man, secure in his final destiny.
May God continue to bless you, your father, and your family. You, your father, and your family are in my prayers.