Spring’s Subtle Memento

IMG_0045It’s the first of May and a sunny day here in the Chicago area. Spring is slowly coming around. New life and all that….always a great reminder of everlasting life. I was hoping to be inspired to write hopeful, encouraging words today. Maybe that will come later.

I was looking back through old emails and came across some correspondence between my sister and me. It’s from November, 2013. I hadn’t heard from Father Michael, was getting worried and finally decided to call him. This was the point when he was receiving magnesium infusions all the time. It’s sad to read about and remember those days. Here is the email I found :

Me:

Father Michael answered!! He was just leaving for the clinic. He said he has gone every day this week. He has not needed the infusion each day, yet has to wait 3 hours until the test comes back. I asked him if he gets to lie down while waiting. He said he did yesterday in the waiting room.

He has been praying to that Fr. Mazzuchelli , said he asked him for a break last night. “And he gave it to me”, he said. He was able to get some sleep. He said all he did was throw up yesterday. Last night was really bad. He says he just gets really dehydrated and weak.

His voice sounded crackly today again. He said he has been sleeping on the bathroom floor and Fr. Louie told him  “that’s okay, sleep in the tub if you want”.

I said to him “Father Michael, you have been fighting so hard, you do whatever you want. I’ll be praying”. And I said “I know that this is so hard for you and that you might really be full of doubts and that is so difficult”. So he repeated “Yes, I have been fighting so hard, so very hard”. And “Yes, I am full of doubts”. He kind of sounded like a little boy, easily influenced.

Then he told me “I promise we will talk” and said Louie was waiting for him and then again he repeated that we’d talk.

I’m glad I called him even though it was disruptive.

Last evening I had such a bad feeling about things, then calmed down. I swear I am attuned to him somehow.

My sister:

You have some sort of bond. He sounds so sick.

Me:

He does — and he sounds drugged and groggy, but was still chuckling a few times. It is so touching. Around 3, I sent a text saying I hoped that he didn’t need the infusion. Nothing back yet, but I feel complimented that he even picked up the phone to talk this morning.

So it was nothing out of the ordinary for those times. I was witness to an exceptional person’s suffering. Father Michael had a very accepting attitude toward his suffering.During a particularly difficult time he wrote me:

“I have been quite sick all week. I feel a bit weary from all the vomiting and nausea. Hopefully, tomorrow they will be able to arrange better nausea medicine. But I always realize there are so many others at the clinic who are much worse off than I am and their journey is precarious at best.”

What an example! Unforgettable.

My life is simpler these days, though there have been other trials this past year. In retrospect I realize I was so privileged to even accompany Father Michael however distantly on his journey. I’ll always be grateful.

As I have mentioned before, toward the end of Father’s life, there was no news or updates or communication.  It was so painful to be kept in the dark, after sharing so much. If it helped him to be away from us at the end (and we’ll never really know), I am glad. But Father wrote me once “You know, I never want to be estranged from anyone.” So it is hard to believe that it was his choice to distance himself.

We are free now- all who suffered with Father Michael -and of course Father Michael himself. Beautiful days like today remind me of the days before Father M got so ill. Those were the days when he’d speak before beginning Mass, just beaming, and say  “What a glorious, glorious day! Isn’t God good?”

Different experiences in life’s spectrum-perhaps that’s why I needed to go back and reread about the sadness and suffering. Grand, grand lessons…….. how well Father Michael taught them, all of them.