All Souls Day

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By Robert Whelan

This was one of those days. Days that happen few times in one’s life, and I have lived a long one. I can’t remember any like this.

Received a nice invitation from Chris W. last week inviting me, along with others who have lost a loved one this year, to attend the 9:00 AM Mass this All Souls Day. In it, there would be a reading of names (I have made a copy of the program she produced. It is printed at the end of this statement) during the Mass, followed by a reception in the Parish Meeting Hall.

The Mass was so moving. A full Choir (Resurrection Choir) under the direction of the Parish Music Minister was superb. I particularly appreciate Ms. Honz`s music. Not only is she is an excellent musician, she vocally harmonizes with her quality singers at Mass, and is a devotee of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, my favorite composer. What a background setting.

Father Bob rounded out the musical setting, by singing, in his beautiful voice, the entire Mass. Just as he did when he sang both of Jean’s Funeral Masses. Again, most moving. It transported me back to my recollection of both. It brought tears.

All Souls Day was never very high on my priorities list. I don’t even recall ever having gone to Mass on one. This time, for obvious reasons, was a different story. The Church was fairly full with loved ones of the deceased. I don’t know how many, but there were a lot. Such a consolation to be among those having the same burden. Participating jointly in petitioning God to witness our sorrow. Knowing that He is hearing all of it, and blessing us, as well as, those who have left us.

The Mass was a memorable event, but, for me at least, the reception was what overwhelmed me. Somehow, after I served myself some well prepared breakfast items, I found a place at a table with someone I recognized from various activities in which I had participated. She and her husband were there to honor her recently deceased mother-in-law. She had worked with me in the Jewelry sales room of the July 2013 Super Sale. Even bought a bracelet there, which she didn’t happen to be wearing this day.

On my other side were two very delightful ladies who assisted Chris W. in her work as Pastoral Associate. And, in particular, providing the support work for this event. I am embarrassed by not remembering their names, but somehow our conversation turned to Saint’s Place. Probably in connection with their Super Sale.

In the course of this conversation. The name P. came up. I don’t even remember how, but, my best recollection is it was involved in our discussions of those who had passed away this year, and were listed on the program, and how tragic it was for his family to lose a son at such a young age.

Ironically, his name is listed just below Jean’s in the program. I then mentioned to the ladies on my right that I had attended his funeral Mass, and the reason why. Basically, it boils down to my need to put right with God an emotional block that haunted me way back to 1988. The year I was sacked from my Occupational School after 25 years of an otherwise rewarding educational career. It, in itself, was to me, a form of a death. All that I had built over those years was brutally whisked away in a flash. I was devastated.

Devastated, but not destroyed… I fought back… Was able to be awarded a fair, out of court, settlement for my perceived unjust dismissal. As Father Bob said in a recent sermon, I went out of one room and into another, as one does when one enters a new life. Amazingly, that part worked out extremely well, until Jean got sick. Which then was followed by her rapid decline and eventual death. The only lingering negative emotional cloud still hanging over me, was the animosity I still held for those who ended my educational career.

To the best of my memory, he was the lead attorney for those who sacked me, and as such, though not responsible in any way for my dismissal, nonetheless was a part of the enemy team. In particular as attorney, to my mind, the point man.

The rest of that story is best told in a recent “Conversation with Jean” story. The writing of which has become such an important part of my grieving process. The basic ingredients involved therein I had the good fortune to be able to impart verbally to his partents, just before I left the reception.

My two table partners from Chris W’s ministry, had spotted the family in the room, and seemingly about to leave. They urged me to go and introduce myself, and tell them the story. I did. To the extent of my understanding they received it well, but were no doubt astonished. I am sure they never had a clue that such a story even existed. I believe the bond of our common losses enabled them to be accepting of my rather bold intrusion. Suffering such deep losses creates an understanding that outflanks words. They were very cordial. I was relieved. Relieved of a burden. So much so that the entire event no longer occupies my consciousness. Love your neighbor… Forgive and forget… It works…