Greetings fellow Network of Love Lovers!
Last week here at the parish, we had a memorial service for a little baby who had lost his life soon after being born into this world. David Anthony had been born premature, stillborn. The obituary could have easily brought to tears to one’s eyes, as it read David Anthony had been still born, but born still. For some reason, that phrase has stuck with me since the memorial service. I still remember the look in the eyes of the deceased baby’s parents Anthony and Claris. They looked toughened by the whole experience, drained in one way, yet optimistic that in some miraculous way the little boy they had brought in this world still lived and breathed in another dimension unknown but felt.
The idea that David Anthony was indeed still with his parents and with the community at large formed the foundation of Father Carl’s sermon for the service. He talked about how we must mourn the loss of the child, how that is absolutely imperative for the healing process to begin. However, he said that, as hard as it may be to fathom at a time when the death of a new born is incredibly fresh in the mind of those who touched him or were touched by him, David Anthony should be remembered as a living person–––a saint among the greatest in heaven. What exactly does that mean?
Ahh…the question that has perplexed humankind for ages and ages, especially since we have incorporated the idea that there is a “heaven” awaiting us after death, the question of what happens to us after we die? I don’t have the time nor the ability to try and makes some kind of thesis about the whereabouts, whenabouts, or whatabouts of “heaven.” I think of this Los Lonely Boys song lyric (it was one of those songs that played and played on the radio a few years ago and I just so happened to hear it yesterday afternoon)…the Lonely Boys ask in song, “how far is heaven?” and continue with “I just gotta know how far it is.”
Maybe I’m looking to far into the Los Lonely Boys lyrics, but they are onto something. Inevitably, we will also face our own death at some point in this life. Whether we will suffer a drawn out death where we fight a disease or cancer or whether we pass quickly in our sleep, before we do, most likely we have asked ourselves or our God, or both, “how far is heaven?”
Again, I can’t begin to answer this question. Something that does stick in my mind is the teachings of Jesus Christ, especially his statement that the “kingdom of God is at hand.” This at least makes me think that we can attain some sort of “heaven” here on earth. This also makes me think that those who die, in some mysterious way, affect us who survive them. That is, those who have died, when we remember them in love and in spirit, we feel a bit of their presence. A picture or memory of a person near to our heart who has passed on from this world can bring them somehow back to this world. If Anthony and Claris, the couple who lost baby David Anthony remember the love he brought them during Claris’ pregnancy and the days they spent with David Anthony once he was born, the unique way he brought a young couple and their family and friends close together, if even in sorrow at the end of his life, then Anthony and Claris will always have David Anthony.
Like Father Carl emphasized in his sermon at the memorial service, David Anthony is a little saint in heaven. He can help out his parents anytime they need him. He can be with them as an angel in heaven, their blessed baby forever.
PEACE to all of my friends.
Your friend bob.