The Dark Days

images-3As it gets clos­er to the first anniver­sary of Father Michael’s death, I find myself think­ing of the events of last year in these last days of March.  I was so in the dark, so wor­ried, so sep­a­rat­ed. I prayed con­stant­ly. I had last received a text from Father Michael on March 19. He talked about being slat­ed for three days of chemo, then wrote “my car is great!”  He’d been watch­ing some tv pro­gram on which cars were rat­ed safest. He end­ed the text with “Just ignore me!” So more con­fu­sion was set­ting in.

Between the 19th and the 22nd, there was no com­mu­ni­ca­tion. On Sun­day the 23rd,in church, they read Father Michael’s name in the inten­tions for the sick. At Mass on the 24th our pas­tor said that Father Michael was in the hos­pi­tal, very con­fused, with blood irreg­u­lar­i­ties. Then on the 25th, the parish com­mu­ni­cat­ed via email that Father M had been dis­charged and was going back to St Pius for hos­pice care.

I texted Father Louie at once that I want­ed to help in any way I could. No response. In ret­ro­spect, I don’t under­stand why I was not asked to come for a final vis­it and at least pray at Father’s bed­side. Accord­ing to the obits, Father Michael had fam­i­ly , “a few close friends” and his Domini­can broth­ers present at his death. In my opin­ion, there were more than a ‘few’ close friends present. Just a feeling.That day, I saw one lady’s post of Father’s sta­tus on Face­book; it was record­ed at 8:40 am, just min­utes before Father Michael’s death. She urged every­one to pray, that Father could still make it, that mir­a­cles hap­pen. I don’t doubt the sin­cer­i­ty and love that prompt­ed the post; I under­stand com­plete­ly. But I still mar­vel that some­one, priv­i­leged to be at Father Michael’s deathbed, would do this. But maybe my mis­take was hop­ing to be invit­ed. I should have just shown up. I will always, always regret that I did not.

I’ve been present at a few deaths-all of them peace­ful. Recent­ly, I’ve seen an inter­view with Bea­t­le George Harrison’s wid­ow where she describes the moment of his death. She wouldn’t be spe­cif­ic but states “Let’s just say you wouldn’t need to light the room”. With Father Michael’s light so bright in life, I can’t help won­der­ing if those present at his death were gift­ed with see­ing a sim­i­lar phenomenon.But just to be there with Father Michael at the end of such an inspir­ing, touch­ing, painful jour­ney-had to have been the great­est hon­or. Father Michael him­self was the phe­nom­e­non-a life full of ser­vice, love and joy!

Men are like stars; some gen­er­ate their own light while oth­ers reflect the bril­liance they receive.
                                   José Martí