Amazing Grace by Jay Fadden
by Jay Fadden
Two years ago, on April 10th at 2pm, I lost my dear mother. Those final days will be with me for the rest of my life. They were filled with pain, loss, love, and miracles. I watched with great sadness and helplessness as my dad said goodbye to the only woman he ever dated after 57 years of marriage. I witnessed my kind and devoted sisters shed tears for their mom. As I write this blog I can still remember those moments clearly and with much emotion.
It is interesting that we have just finished Easter; for just as Jesus rose from the dead after his crucifixion, something happened after my mother died that I still cannot believe; a miracle.
We buried my mom on a Thursday in a beautiful ceremony. We entered the funeral service to her favorite hymn, "Amazing Grace," followed by some of her favorite readings and a spectacular homily by Bishop Reed. It was a day filled with family, tears and remembrance. I can recall watching the grandchildren as tears rolled down their cheeks, their shoulders rising and falling as they sobbed. Na Na was gone.
Three days after we buried our mother, my family, my father, and one of my sisters were attending the Sunday Mass at my parish. My father and sister would go to Mass with my family when mom got sick. It is during the most challenging times that families pull together and faith becomes the steel that binds us all together and gives us strength. At the recommendation of the pastor, Father Al, we left a space in the pew where my mother would have sat.
We were silent as Mass was about to begin. All of us, including our children, were lost in the memories of my mother. It was somber and we were all still numb from the events of the past six weeks culminating with the loss of mom.
It is difficult to describe the emptiness you feel when someone you love so deeply is lost to you. Everything slows down and nothing is as important. Your thoughts wander and your energy wanes.
We all sat in that pew emboldened by each other’s company but still alone in our suffering as each had different experiences and memories of a woman they loved and had lost. She was a wife, mother, grandmother, friend, supporter and confidant.
The procession was about to begin so we all stood slowly. Our movements were mechanical, out of reaction to the environment, with little thought or effort. Our shoulders were slumped and our eyes downcast. Nothing seemed important and everything seemed gray. Our bodies were limp and our eyes filled with tears. Our emotions were still raw from the events of the past week. We were physically and emotionally spent. We had nothing left to give.
The alter server began to walk down the aisle with the cross held high. And then it happened. A miracle! With the first note our heads rose and we gazed forward. We awoke from the haze of despair and loneliness. I looked at my father, his mouth open in a gasp his eyes alive for the first time in weeks. I shot a glance to my sister to see her lips part in a smile as tears fell from her cheeks.
With each note, our resolve strengthened and joy filled our hearts. The choir sang the first words and we were transported back to earth and sadness was replaced by awe. The choir was singing "Amazing Grace." The choir was singing my mother’s favorite song and the song we used for her funeral.
After Mass we visited the choir. I asked why they chose that song, thinking that the pastor might have suggested it to them. I was wrong. They said they just decided to open with it. They then told me it was the first time they had ever sung "Amazing Grace" at that church.
It brought joy to our hearts and life to our bodies.
Miracles are not always huge. They can be small but just as beautiful. In that parish on that cool April morning, a family could once again breathe because of a small miracle that no one else noticed. God is truly amazing!