We were told we could celebrate the last communion with my mother if we were in a state of grace and then they defined it by their very catholic terms. We weren’t in the club, didn’t know the handshake but they sure encouraged us to get to know Jesus, all while singing “One Bread, One Body, One Lord of All.” The hypocrisy infuriated me even though I had chosen to leave the pope and his followers’ years ago.
Grace? I can’t imagine being deeper in a state of grace. We spent 2 days in neuro critical care and 3 days in hospice, cloaked in nursing care that felt more like mission work. The men and women who bathed, moved, dosed my mother never left the room without asking what they could do for each one of us. They talked to my mom, they talked to us. They all knew our names. They hugged us and gave us room to cry and laugh. They did not ask questions about how many times we had visited in the last year and if we had told her we were sorry.
Friends far and near used social networking sites and texts to send hugs, sweet messages, offers of help at home. Dogs were fed, beds arranged, schedules were changed.
Grandkids that couldn’t come and shouldn’t come were kept at bay, memories intact. Thousands of miles in travel and not one incident.
As we finally gathered to lay her to rest, the only judgment, the least act of grace came from the church. Gone was the comfort, gone was the inclusiveness of sharing our loss among the many to bear the load. We were divided along their lines, so many of us found lacking.
We asked for a catholic mass because that is what mom would have wanted. But she would have hated how we all felt, so left out. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–.” (Ephesians 2:8) Guess I have a different bible than Fr. Ted. What I do know is that we experienced both mercy and grace throughout this week, in the people God sent to care for us. We knew Jesus because He was there bathing my mother, He was there meticulously arranging her pillows and her nightgown, He was there with cookies and magazines, with cupcakes and guidance when I didn’t know how to get back. He was there telling my husband to get back to the hospital after I had sent him home. He was there telling my brother’s best friend this is the time to visit.
We confessed our sins to mom and to each other. We sought forgiveness for long ago wrongs, let tears wash away the dirt of secrets and hurts. We nurtured each other, we retold stories for adult perspective. We offered peace, we gave our gifts. I can’t imagine a more graceful ending.
You can keep your wafers, we communed with God all week.