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Via Media


Euthus

posted by awelborn

First:
What you’ll read here is nowhere near the sum of what is going on. I’m not using this space to pour out and expose everything that is going on.  I’m using it to share thoughts and experiences that have been helpful to me and that I hope will be helpful to others, and to give space to discuss and share. The comments in the previous post are astonishing and beautiful, and I thank all of you for opening in this way and being of support to me and to others.
***
So don’t drop me notes or comments worrying, you’re not letting yourself grieve. I don’t see it in your blog. You might be tempted to say that especially after reading this post.  Don’t worry. Don’t worry about that at all. It’s there.
****
I had the great blessing of speaking to the person who was on the treadmill next to Michael and was the first to come to his aid. I will not go into details here, but it will suffice to make two points about what she told me:

  • There was no struggle or consciousness of what had happened, no words, no stopping, clutching of chest or struggling for breath.  He simply dropped mid-stride and within a minute had stopped breathing.
  • Everything that could have been done at the scene was done.  This person knew CPR. There were other off-duty emergency professionals who were working out at the time who attended him, using CPR and the defibrillator before the regular EMTs arrived. If this was going to happen, this was the place it could have happened where he would get the most help, short of a hospital.

What this means is that although many questions continue to haunt, the one that does not is, “If only someone had gotten to him sooner…if only there had been more help.” This could have happened in our exercise room here at the apartment complex or at the little lake across the street where we occasionally go exercise.  Depending on the nature of what it was that caused this, it could have happened in the car, resulting in even more tragedy. If it had happened while he was exercising here, he would not have been discovered for several minutes, and there would not have been the level of help available that there was. So at least that is not a question. I am very grateful for those who did their best at that moment, those who were praying, and for the willingness of people to talk to me about it.
Now. Euthus.
***
We arrived in Gainesville on Thursday, and stayed there through Sunday. The little boys spent the days with their cousins, I had meetings in St. Augustine on Friday, and spent Saturday thinking about and working on what I would say at the Mass on Monday.
Sunday morning it was time to go to St. Augustine. We left about 10:30, because I didn’t want to be in a rush, wanted to see if I could check into the Hilton early and really prepare ourselves.
I suppose you should know, too, that it was Sunday I dreaded more than anything else. To see him again, not alive, unable to avoid the real, concrete truth at last – I was terrified.  Terrified of the strangeness and mystery before me. Trying to let the truth I claim to  believe reign in my life and heart, but failing.
I was driving, Katie was in the front, and the boys in the back, of course. This is Michael’s car we are driving now, since it was the better car – the day he died, a notice came in the mail announcing it had been paid for. I saw the Bible he had on the ledge against the back window, and told Joseph to grab it and hand it to Katie.
Without thinking much about it, I told her to start reading from the Gospel of Mark. Why? There was a consciousness about it – both Michael and I love the Gospel of Mark. We liked talking about it. He was fascinated by what it reveals about Jesus and his disciples, especially in contrast to the popular view that what we have in the Twelve and the Master is a merry band of fellows completely in sync at all times. Well, when you read the Gospel of Mark, you see how false that image is. The apostles, besides being generally clueless, were also generally confused and intimidated by Jesus most of the time.
So I had her read aloud and after a couple of chapters, I stopped her, to see if she was paying attention to what she was reading.
“What word,” I asked, “are you reading over and over?”
She thought about it, and studied the pages.
“Immediately?”
A+.
Euthus. The Gospel of Mark is infused with a sense of urgency. Immediately he got up. Immediately they went out. Immediately.
And then…immediately the thought came to mind of how much this characterized Michael. As his friends said Sunday night, Michael was all about immediately. He was the one who got things going socially. At work, where ever he was working at the time, he was all about creatively assessing a situation, coming up with responses to those situations, getting this going and working hard to motivate others to get off their tails, get past their hesitancy and fear, and just do it. Immediately.
It struck me, partly in sadness, that it also characterized his way of going to Christ at the end. Immediately.
So she read on, and I continued to let what I was hearing interact with what I had been thinking about for the previous five days, what I had written the day before in plans for Monday.
Jesus preached the Kingdom, preached repentance, healed, told parables – retreated in prayer – and did it all over again.  The easiest thing for me to do here is to reprint part of what I had written, and part of what I said on Monday:

All of these influenced him, God worked through all of them in Michael’s life. But he was always so careful to remember – and to remind me on my own spiritual journey, with my own set of experiences and influences – to not make idols of any of them. To not expect any of them to save us  – not even the human beings we love most in the world  – to not make our happiness dependent on their presence in our lives -– because only Christ can save us. God alone. And so in all of the stuff of life – stuff he greatly enjoyed – he was always, constantly, looking for the presence of Jesus Christ, his savior and ours. And that , I am convinced, is what he would want me to say to you and to myself about this moment – look for Jesus Christ, here and now. He is here. One of Michael’s coworkers wrote that since Michael died while he was running, she imagined him running right into Jesus’ arms. He was looking for Jesus, and finally, being finished running that race, reached him at last.

This is not BS. It is not just what people who work for the Church are supposed to say. It was truly the focus of Michael’s life and as I pondered this, it occurred to me that during all the years that we knew each other and all the conversations and arguments we would have about these kinds of things, I was being prepared for this moment. There is a lot more to this than I’ll say here, but just understand that in letting all of this surge through me as I listened to the Gospel, tears surged up from deep within and I was startled to consider those tears and realize that for the first time in five days, there was no sadness or grief in them. It was not joy – it was gratitude.  the grief would return soon afterward, but at that moment, I felt nothing but gratitude. And a firm belief of the reality of the Way, the Truth and the Life. Now, with Christ, as we hope and pray, Michael is embraced, fully known, and fully loved. What we all seek in our wanderings.
I felt as if I could go on, and the moment I so dreaded that loomed a few hours in the future held no more fear for me.
But then I immediately felt bad. Where does this fit? It is not right. There should be no break in the sadness. People will think I didn’t love him.
By then, Katie had reached chapter 5. My favorite story from Jesus’ life, one that I have relied on and been nourished by for a decade, rather intensely. The Gerasene demoniac.
You know the story. The man is possessed and lives among the tombs. He is as if dead. A legion dwells within. Jesus drives the demons out. The villagers come and see the man, clean and healed.
They turn to Jesus, and what is their response? Thank you? Do for us what you did for him? Heal us? Help us? Drive out our demons, less in number and quieter, but demons still? Make us whole, as he is?
No.
“Leave us.”
The reason that has resonated with me so much over the years is that I think it characterizes so much about the spiritual journey. Mine at least. Grace surrounds us. The witness of good, holy people surround us – joyful. The fruit of love is as clear as day, the spoiled fruit of selfishness and indulgence is also as clear as day. The power of Jesus is right here. He waits, in love.
And we say, more often than not, fearful of the changes, fearful of what will be lost, “Leave us.”
In a rush, the connections came, it knit together more quickly than I could process. Immediately. God Alone. Leave Us.
There are stages, there are layers, there are bridges. There is a void, my best friend in the world is just – gone.  But in this moment I am confronted with the question, most brutally asked, of whether I really do believe all that I say I believe.  Into this time of strange, awful loss, Jesus stepped in. He wasted no time. He came immediately. His presence was real and vivid and in him the present and future, bound in love, moved close. The gratitude I felt for life now and forever and what had prepared us for this surged, I was tempted to push it away for the sake of propriety, for what is expected, for what was supposed to be normal – I was tempted to say, “Leave me” instead of accepting the Hand extended to me and to immediately allow him to define my life.
But I did not give into that temptation, and a few hours later I was able to do what I dreaded, what I thought was undoable, to be in a mystery that was both presence and absence and to not be afraid. To not be afraid for him, and for the first time ever in my entire life – to not be afraid for myself , either.
At last.



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Cathy (the other one)

posted February 11, 2009 at 11:55 am


Thank you. I will hold your family in prayer.



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Shannon

posted February 11, 2009 at 11:58 am


I am so thankful for the gift of you sharing all of this with us…through you processing all that has happened, all that is happening, the Holy Spirit is growing and changing my soul. I can feel it, and I am not a very feely believer…and I am now reminded to watch vigilantly that I do not respond with, “Leave me.” In our brokenness we are so Christlike in His salvation poured out on the Cross, His power is made perfect in weakness…thank you for not hiding your brokenness and weakness. Truly thank you.



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Renee

posted February 11, 2009 at 12:00 pm


Amy,
This is beautiful and profound. Thank you. Thank you for sharing your life and Michael’s life with all of us. God has blessed you with the ability to beautfully express these deep mysteries. I am so grateful for you and the difference you writing has made in my spiritual journey.
God bless you. I will continue to pray for Michael, you and your children.



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Old Zhou

posted February 11, 2009 at 12:04 pm


Amy,
Please accept my condolences and sympathy.
I have not been reading blogs much over the past six months, and just decided to stop by today and see what you were up to. Oh.
Just last Saturday we had a funeral in my parish for a young man, in his forties, who dropped while exercising at the gym. Euthus.
I’ll pray for you and your family, and Michael. Keep writing.
-OZ



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Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle

posted February 11, 2009 at 12:09 pm


Thank God for His love and His Hand!
Hugs and prayers,



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Fr. Gregory J. Lockwood

posted February 11, 2009 at 12:17 pm


Beautifully said, Amy. Michael, you and the family have been constant intentions in my masses. God bless,
Fr. GJL



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Francesca

posted February 11, 2009 at 12:20 pm


Thank you. You are helping a lot of people by sharing this.



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Marcel LeJeune

posted February 11, 2009 at 12:25 pm


Amy – Thank you for sharing your gift of expressing yourself in your writing with us. It is helpful to see God working in your grief and faith.
Beautiful and poignant. You blessed us with your thoughts and I, for one, appreciate it.
God bless you and your family.



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kerry

posted February 11, 2009 at 12:29 pm


Amy –
That was breathtakingly beautiful.
Bless you for sharing.
kd



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Conor Dugan

posted February 11, 2009 at 12:43 pm


Wow.



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Love2learn Mom

posted February 11, 2009 at 12:49 pm


Thank you, thank you for writing. This is incredible and incredibly helpful.



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Chris Sullivan

posted February 11, 2009 at 1:23 pm


Amy,
Thanks for sharing that.
I’m currently studying Mark and that euthus, that running everywhere, has struck me too in recent days.
And I’ve also been pondering Mark 5 in recent days, from a number of angles.
I know its a hard time for you and the family, but thanks for sharing this with me. It’s been very helpful to where I am right now.
I liked this:
To not be afraid for him, and for the first time ever in my entire life – to not be afraid for myself , either.
At last.

Welcome home.
Will continue to keep you all in our prayers.
And thanks for all the good work you both do, Amy + Michael.
God Bless



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Glenn

posted February 11, 2009 at 1:28 pm


What a gift you are to the Church, Amy. Truly you are God’s instrument. Thank you for giving yourself to Him.
You and your children have been and continue to be in my family’s prayers and intentions at Holy Mass.



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Dean

posted February 11, 2009 at 1:34 pm


Amy,
Thank you for the gift of this reflection. There is much that I want to say in response, but I will leave it at this: It echoes my own experience of God’s presence in the deaths of several loved ones, as well as ways in which God’s presence has been manifested during other crucial moments of my life.
You, Michael, the boys, and your entire family are in my prayers.



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aimee milburn cooper

posted February 11, 2009 at 1:37 pm


People complain that e-mail, blogging, and such is not real community, not real relationships. But the communion of saints is real, our community is real, and our love and prayers for you and Michael are real. Thank you so much for coming out and sharing a little bit with us about what is going on for you – you have touched our lives, and we care, very much. God bless you.



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kathleen

posted February 11, 2009 at 1:44 pm


That is so interesting, because when i read Mark I come away thinking how *remote* Jesus seems, which would seem to contradict any sense of immediacy. But I think this adds to your point.



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Fuinseoig

posted February 11, 2009 at 1:46 pm


Amy, I want to express my condolences to you and to your family.
The only thing I can say, which is not terribly helpful, is that a quick death is the best way to go.
My father died nine months ago. He was 81 years old and in declining health for the past few years, and so the family were more or less expecting to lose him, so it shouldn’t have been a terrible surprise – yet it was a shock when it happened.
The night before, he’d been fine. In the morning before my brother went to work, he spoke to him and he was fine. A couple of hours later when I went in to help him get up, I found he’d had a stroke. He died the next morning in hospital. I couldn’t get my head around the fact that in a few hours he’d just gone.
I still find it very hard to think that he’s gone, but as my sister said, a quick death was the best. My mother died from lung cancer two years ago, and believe me, by comparison, a slow, declining death is miserable. It’s terribly, terribly hard on those left behind, but for the person himself, sudden death is best.
My prayers for you all.



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Barbara

posted February 11, 2009 at 2:05 pm


Well done, so very well done.
With you in Christ,
Barbara



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Cathy

posted February 11, 2009 at 2:13 pm


I am awed by the honesty with which you have opened you heart and soul to us. This is a courageous act and one in which I feel privileged to have read. You have a most grace and faith filled lady and I offer you, Michael and you entire family my prayers. Thank you.



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Adele Lewis

posted February 11, 2009 at 2:21 pm


Thank you. Be well and be at peace.



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The FatMan

posted February 11, 2009 at 2:42 pm


With tears in my eyes as I finished reading, “Wow.”



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Peggy

posted February 11, 2009 at 2:49 pm


Dear Amy,
Michael, You and your family are in my prayers. Thank you for making your life an “Open Book” to us.



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Tim Mahoney

posted February 11, 2009 at 3:11 pm


It is true. It is beautiful. You and your family are in my prayers.



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MargoB

posted February 11, 2009 at 3:26 pm


Amy,
You, Michael’s soul, and your family have been daily in my prayers.
You did not have to share anything with us, but I am so grateful for what you have written here. Using different situations, God has been telling me some of the ideas you have shared here. Reading your reflections shows me His words from a different point of view, and impresses upon me the fact that He means what He’s said/saying more than I have been believing He meant it….and how much He prefers I believe every W/word He says.
Again, thank you; and you all are in my prayers.



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Jane

posted February 11, 2009 at 3:32 pm


Oh Amy, my heart aches for your loss. Thank you for so eloquently sharing and letting us know you are working your way through.
I hesitate to ask, but something is compelling me to. Would it be all right for me to copy a couple of your last posts for my sister-in-laws mom? She just lost her husband of 66 years last Sunday and is having a very hard time.
As I read your post today, it suddenly occurred to me that maybe this is just what Mary needs to see. If, however, you’d rather I didn’t copy, I completely understand.
I am sorry Michael had to leave but am relieved he did not have to suffer.
May God Bless
Jane



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Mimi

posted February 11, 2009 at 3:33 pm


Wow. Stunning.



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elizabethk

posted February 11, 2009 at 3:43 pm


“But in this moment I am confronted with the question, most brutally asked, of whether I really do believe all that I say I believe. ” And that is what will be asked of all of us at some time! Thank you for allowing Jesus to lead, taking his hand during this “weird” time. My heart has been filled and aching, but also somehow rejoicing – for all Christ has done and will continue to do through Michael and you, Amy.
God Bless, and thank you for all I have dimly gleaned only through the goodness and grace of our Lord Jesus.
YES! Keep writing!



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Joe

posted February 11, 2009 at 3:52 pm


Amy – this was the only way I knew to get in touch with you. We talked today at Saint Paul’s and I want you to know I meant what I said, my family and I are hear in Birmingham and would love to help in any way we can. Please let me know what I can do, if you need a place to get away someone to talk with about anything or someone to help with stuff at your house let us know. My wife is home right now with a 3 week old and gets cabin fever easily so as long as it is not to cold for the baby she loves to get out of the house. If you want to be more private just that is fine to just know that my family is praying for yours, daily.
God Bless,
Joe
PS this does not need to be published in the comments section it was just the only way I knew to contact you. You have my e-mail address just let me know what we can do



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Mary

posted February 11, 2009 at 4:17 pm


Thank you Amy for sharing this incredible insight. I wept as I read it, understanding for the first time how often I have said “Leave” in my own life, instead of accepting Our Lords offering of love. May you continue to see His face and hear His voice upon your heart over the coming weeks and months as you grieve. Know that we are praying for you and appreciate so much your words of inspiration and wisdom.



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Trisha

posted February 11, 2009 at 4:24 pm


I want to thank you so much for sharing this. We–out here–are grieving terribly–terribly. Looking for any word–any column in some paper on the service–any thing to give us comfort regarding you and the kids. And the hole that must close naturally because there is naught to fill it.
Except for Christ and the Hope He has promised.
THANK YOU. I can finish this grief now and know that our beloved Amy will be alright…..eventually. Prayers are flowing as the tears have been, too. Love-trisha



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mrsdarwin

posted February 11, 2009 at 4:25 pm


Thank you for using your writer’s gift to share this time with us, Amy. You and Michael have been popping into my prayers at odd times during this past week. God bless your family as you mourn.



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gb

posted February 11, 2009 at 5:04 pm


Amy, Years ago a dear friend of mine died (young) with breast cancer. Even though I’m a nurse & have witnessed many, many deaths thru the years, hers stayed with me because of the depth & detail she was able to freely share with those around her. It was a real gift to all of us for which I’m still grateful.
I was reminded of that reading this post. Its a real gift to all your readers. Thank you.



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Jessica G

posted February 11, 2009 at 5:08 pm


Amy, I am so grateful for you.



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Blanca

posted February 11, 2009 at 5:10 pm


Dear Amy:
From Spain.
Thanks. I have known you and your husband the day before Michael died. God is goog with me. Today I was looking for a card of Notre Dame de Lourdes… and it is here. Others are here. I’m praying for you and your family the holy Rosary.
http://floscarmelivitisflorigera.blogspot.com/2008/02/150th-anniversary-of-lourdes-apparition.html
http://floscarmelivitisflorigera.blogspot.com/2008/02/feast-of-our-lady-of-lourdes.html



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elmo

posted February 11, 2009 at 5:13 pm


I recently received some very disturbing news about a medical condition and despite my initial anxiety and anger (“leave us”), had come to experience that same profound gratitude that Amy describes. In that diagnosis was Jesus Christ posing that brutal question. And once I saw it was he, the one who thirsts, doing the asking, Jesus immediately reached out his hand along with the grace to allow me to reach for him. I too experienced peace that I had never before experienced in my life. So thanks for this, Amy. It’s oddly wonderful to see another articulating my own grief and loss.



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Ginger

posted February 11, 2009 at 6:34 pm


The marriage vows are the commitment to bring each other to the fullness of life – to prepare the other to become one with our True Lover.
The marriage covenant is forever, as all covenant love is.
Michael now sits at the feet of Love. His imperfections are perfected. That which limited him as lover and parent are no more.
Amy, Micheal’s commitment to you and your children is forever. He is able to love and to parent from the his place at the foot of the seat of Wisdom.
Love is forever and clearly a parent’s job never ends.
Peace be with you.



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anna

posted February 11, 2009 at 6:48 pm


“It’s oddly wonderful to see another articulating my own grief and loss.”
Truly. So many of the things you have said and things said in the comments system hit home.
A gentleman in the previous post made the wise suggestion that you continuously talk to your children – and I second that motion. Boys have such a tendency to bury their grief. As hard as I tried to stay on top of this, I remember one period where the grief was consuming him and he wouldn’t talk about it. I stood outside his bedroom door, banged on it until he let me in and then found the ways to get him to express his thoughts and work through them as a family. Huge payoff. He learned a life skill that will sustain him and at 18, I see him using it all the time to defuse other conflicts and process his emotions.
I got (and still get) a lot of comfort wearing the jewelry, medals – etc – as did my children. It helped me during the initial period when I had to put closure on things, came across personal possessions and put things in order, when I fell into the holes.



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deacondog

posted February 11, 2009 at 6:51 pm


Dear Amy,
What a fantastic gift from God that you have received during this time of mourning and loss. You and your family are very treasured in the kingdom of God.
DD



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Kristina

posted February 11, 2009 at 7:04 pm


Thank you so much for sharing your story. I have prayed for you and am so sorry for you loss. I was widowed just seven short months ago, very unexpectantly. He just fell while at work, and was gone. He had just turned 40 the month before. Now I struggle with my own fears as I figure out how to single parent our five children. I have so many up and down moments, but the one constant has been Jesus Christ. I have learned so much since Paul’s death about my own faith. My husband died on a Friday, and the first Sunday after his death was the start of the year of St. Paul. The only thing I can remember from that Mass is hearing the words…..” I, Paul, am already being poured out like a libation, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have competed well; I have finished the race; I have kept the faith.” (The 2nd reading that day from 2 Tim.) Very comforting words since my husband’s name was Paul. I try to remind myself and my children that is our goal in this life. To compete well and finish our race. I hope and pray that the one constant that remains for you and your children is the knowledge that Jesus is with you. Even in the moments when His presence seems so far away and it is almost impossible to hear His still small voice, I hope you hold on to what’s true: God will never leave nor forsake you!



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Marie Bacun

posted February 11, 2009 at 7:18 pm


It’s late evening, and I’m sitting at my desk at work in this old college library, tearing up and convicted by your words. Thank you for not telling Christ to leave, for I think this account from your life has served as a reminder for me not turn away from Him when He comes to cleanse my demons.
God help you in your grief, comfort your children, and carry you through.
Marie



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MS

posted February 11, 2009 at 7:25 pm


Dear Amy,
I simply wanted to say thank you for the gift of your words. They truly have helped me tonight as I struggle to find hope and peace during a difficult time.
You are all in my prayers. God Bless.



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Mere Catholic

posted February 11, 2009 at 7:43 pm


Amy,
Thank you for opening what is a lovely and honest conversation. When my father died of pancreatic cancer, I fully expected to go through the stages of grief as I had read only months before in one of my med school classes. Yet, while there were certainly many painful moments, there were by God’s grace many more instances of being mindful that God is in control and that He will take care of things. I pray that your faith will bear you up in your own painful moments. Your husband gave so much of himself in the service of Christ. In his death, he is continuing, through your words, to point to Christ. I marvel at and thank God for your courage.
A.



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John

posted February 11, 2009 at 7:54 pm


Amy,
Thank you the blessing of sharing with all of us your heart! I don’t if you follow Medjugorje, agree with it or whatever, but I thought of you and your family and Michael with the message to Mirjana on Feb 2, 2009-
Dear children,
With a motherly heart, today I desire to remind you of, namely, to draw your attention to, God’s immeasurable love and the patience which ensues from it. Your Father is sending me and is waiting. He is waiting for your open hearts to be ready for His works. He is waiting for your hearts to be united in Christian love and mercy in the spirit of my Son. Do not lose time, children, because you are not its masters. Thank you.
From what you wrote, Michael never wasted time doing God’s work! Awesome!



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Thomas

posted February 11, 2009 at 8:13 pm


Thank you, Amy
Grace be with you all.



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Bill

posted February 11, 2009 at 8:44 pm


The days may get harder but God will be with you. Thank you for sharing. May the Lord bless and keep you and your family.



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Tracy

posted February 11, 2009 at 9:17 pm


Amy~
I do not know you or did I know your husband yet your life has been on my heart INTENSELY this past week. What an honor to intercede for you and your family. May God continue to bless you and strengthen you in the days and weeks ahead.



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Jeff (the mild-mannered one)

posted February 11, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Jerry

posted February 11, 2009 at 9:25 pm


Amy,
You are special. You are very important to the Catholic community and we need you. Your many talents will serve you and your family well, and will continue to enrich the Catholic community.
Michael has left a wonderful legacy with the family he leaves behind and the published works I use all of the time in my RCIA ministry. And being such a wonderful , spiritual man who inspired so many.
Just please continue to be with us and bless us with your love of God and your communication skills whether that be in this blog or other media opportunities.
We as a Catholic community are soon going to have to deal with more of the Abortion crowd’s agenda and attack on our spiritual values. It’s going to be ugly.
We need you to be there with us as we fight Satan’s agenda.
You are special, Amy Wellborn Dubriel. We need you.
Jerry Tidwell



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John Mallon

posted February 11, 2009 at 9:27 pm


Dear Amy,
I am so sorry to hear about Michael. I will have a Mass offered for him.
I sent this to the only email address I have for you, on Yahoo, but I don’t know if it is current, so I posted this here to make sure you received it.
Prayers,
God bless you,
John



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Meggan

posted February 11, 2009 at 9:39 pm


Amen.
That’s all I can say.



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K.H.

posted February 11, 2009 at 10:32 pm


Wow. I had heard of you and your husband before this but had not read any of your books. After reading this, I’m going to have to remedy that.
Your Mary-like yielding to God’s will and grace is astounding. I am so sorry for your loss, and yet thankful for what you have gained for yourself and for all of us (by sharing it here). Thank you for allowing your life to be a living witness to the Truth, even though it must hurt worse than death at times.
You are beautiful because you allow Him to shine through you. You and your family have my prayers.



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Rich Leonardi

posted February 11, 2009 at 11:24 pm


But in this moment I am confronted with the question, most brutally asked, of whether I really do believe all that I say I believe.
I’ve lost two close family members in recent years. In both cases, I recall thinking, “Either it’s true or it’s all [expletive deleted.]” I believe. But how strange death is. It’s as though they’re still here, in some country of the past that I cannot visit. Perhaps that’s just selfishness talking. I have been working my way through Mark since last November and am in thrall to its relentless vitality. Much of the first half is set by the sea, where Jesus is like a gale. Euthus.



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sj

posted February 11, 2009 at 11:30 pm


A close friend’s mother died last Thursday at an advanced age after a short illness. She was a devout Catholic in the manner of her generation, praying extensively every day. The afternoon before she died, she saw most of her large family and reminesced over her life. At one point, she commented that “this is taking longer than I thought” and said she wanted to sing a song. Then they all sang together. Not long afterwards, she tired and sank into a coma and died early the next morning.
Different in circumstances from what you’ve experienced but over the weekend I watched “Dialogues of the Carmelites” and was struck by Bernanos’s words that “we do not die for ourselves alone, but for each other.” I have learned in my heart this week from Helen and from your words about Michael the truth of those words. God bless you.



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Margaret Catherine

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:18 am


To Amy’s children, Katie in particular -
My mother died when I was seventeen. She was fine one evening and the next morning she was badly confused from a stroke. Somewhere in that night, I’d already lost her; even though she was still alive and lived another day, I’d already lost my chance for goodbyes and final words.
It’s a shock and unreal and it’s going to be that way for a while yet. Don’t be surprised if you dream of your father sometimes. Be ready for at least some of the dreams to be – even years later – about losing him again. His death is the most hurtful thing you’ve ever known and it is going to engrave itself on you.
I have had only one dream about my mother that wasn’t that kind. It was a couple of years after 9/11. In the dream, she and I were together – not talking that I recall, but just together. There was a loud explosion “out of sight”, and I looked at Mom in fear. She still didn’t say anything, just looked back at me in absolute understanding and absolute sorrow. I didn’t know what was going on, but she did and was saddened by it. That was all there was to the dream but I’ve never forgotten it. Your father is still your father; he does still know what is happening to you; and in some way, even in heaven, he shares in your sadness.



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roubroum

posted February 12, 2009 at 5:19 am


so great



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Janet

posted February 12, 2009 at 8:09 am


I just came to know who you are Amy, a few years ago, when a friend of mine purchased your book, “A Catholic Woman’s Book of Days”for me for Christmas. I was laying in bed, when I heard on Relevant Radio, the news of your husband’s passing. The program was a rebroadcast, so forgive me for this being a bit late, but the sentiment is the same. I will pray for the repose of your husband’s soul and I will pray for grace and strength to be with you and your family. God Bless you and keep you.



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Lauri in VA

posted February 12, 2009 at 8:11 am


I’m in tears Amy. Thank you so much for writing through the pain you must be in. What a profound message. I’ve been praying for you & your family since I heard the sad news about your husband. I spent my hour at Adoration yesterday morning praying for Michael’s soul and your beautiful family. Peace.



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Kim in Boston

posted February 12, 2009 at 8:28 am


Amy
thank you for sharing these moments with us. You and your family are in my prayers.



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Allison Miller

posted February 12, 2009 at 8:42 am


Your words have been a gift to many including me. I continue to pray-Allison



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Jennifer Fitz

posted February 12, 2009 at 10:15 am


Amy, thank you so much for writing this.



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Rena

posted February 12, 2009 at 10:18 am


Amy,
It’s all been said above, but thank you. You’ve reminded more than a few of us of the core of the Gospel in your words, and that confirms in me the sense that our faith really is unafraid to ask the big questions and be vulnerable in their answering.
You and Michael and your family are in my prayers.



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k3vin

posted February 12, 2009 at 10:37 am


Beautiful. Euthus. Pax.



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Clare Krishan

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:09 pm


as our eucharistic Master conditor (latin for creator, used in German speaking lands for “baker” as in Conditorei), Our Lord is, of course, delighted when we prepare our best offerings:
. . . ingredients when they are freshest, immediately they are plucked from the fields where we labor
. . . sharing that of greatest value, as in biblical times, our livestock, with the least of our neighbors
God bless you for sharing your freshest, your most valuable with us, for giving us an example of how to offer the stock of our lives, the economy of all that sustains us, to the Greater Glory… and may I , in humble reciprocation, offer (for those “leave” moments) the UK choristers of TV fame Libera singing “Abide with me” (*) a favorite with sports spectators in stadiums the world over… start you engines, let the race begin!
__
* I do not know if the image used in the staging of the video is intentionally similar to Bernadette Soubirous, but I’d like to think its another of those euthus moments, echoing in time from yesterday (2-1,1 Lourdes) since immediately I had googled the hymn I found that link, sight unseen



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Eric

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:10 pm


Thanks for sharing at this time. We are honored. Continued prayers for you and the family, especially the two little guys. We are continuing our nine day rosary novena for Michael. God bless.
Eric



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Jim

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:19 pm


Your post is stunning — thank you. It reminded me of 1 Thessalonians 5:16:
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
My prayers are with you, Michael, and your family.



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Clare Krishan

posted February 12, 2009 at 12:20 pm


And in gentle jest, on behalf of your wee ones (for whom you have to stay light hearted) here’s an image of what the communion of saints arrayed in the bleachers of Heaven might look like if Jesus were a sports franchise:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c1Y0k4z9-3I&feature=related



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thomas tucker

posted February 12, 2009 at 1:39 pm


Thank you, Amy.
You are a blessing.
While reading this, I thought of how often I have told my kids to leave me alone while I am trying to do something, sometimes as unimportant as reading the paper. And the same thing could happen to me as happened to your husband for we are about the same age. Then I would be gone, and some of their memories of me would be of the times that I told them to leave.
So thank you for this, Amy. I pledge to you that I will never say that to my kids again.
I am praying for you, and Michael, and your children.



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Bo Bonner

posted February 12, 2009 at 3:32 pm


This may seem like an off-hand comment, but I think you just explained, in some fashion, how mysticism works. Mysticism is not esoteric or escapist…it is the deepest penetration of reality, seeing the material and spiritual as joined truly as they are in the Eyes and Life of God. Its no wonder that mystics like St. John of the Cross have talked about the darkness of God. I think Saints like the aforementioned demonstrate to us a way and life that accomplishes and possesses this truth in a way in which “heaven is begun on earth” as the prayer says. However, God in His grace, will take even the brutality of death and allow it to be a gift if we are willing to accept it. As you said
“Immediately. God Alone. Leave Us.”
Immediacy. Surrender. Abscence.
What you describe is what I think we all should aim to attain through prayer…giving ourselves away to God and receiving it back in all its darkness, terror, and glory.
God bless Michael’s soul, you and your family, and all of us for giving Himself to us in a place we would not plan to look…



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Lisa

posted February 12, 2009 at 5:15 pm


I’m speechless — this is the beauty of our God!



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Ian

posted February 12, 2009 at 5:32 pm


Thank you indeed.
Prayers ascending from Down Under for you all. God bless.



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Peg

posted February 12, 2009 at 7:24 pm


So good to hear from you, Amy. Sounds like we were all hoping for an update of some kind as to how you and your family are. Thanks for your generosity in sharing and hope it is a form of healing therapy for you, too, during the grieving process.



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Joe C.

posted February 12, 2009 at 7:25 pm


Thank you.
Please don’t apologize for writing here. We know this is part of how you work through things. And, we know that those of us who only know you from your blog/books only know a part of you.



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Margaret

posted February 12, 2009 at 8:03 pm


Amazing! I am going to send this link to my daughter who has been devastated by the recent deaths of three young parents (early 40′s) in her town, one while the father was exercising. It may help her in her understandable anxiety that this could happen to her and she would not be able to handle it. You prove her wrong, but you also prove that a well-prepared soul is ready for God’s graces; a poorly-prepared soul may indeed flounder.
May the gift of your great marriage sustain your thankfulness and may God bless and keep you all.



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Maureen

posted February 12, 2009 at 8:50 pm


You’re allowed to laugh and be happy in your grief, just as you’re allowed to cry and be angry. Anybody tells you otherwise, gimme their phone number so I can yell at ‘em. :) You just worry about what God thinks, not about everybody else and their weird cousin sixteen times removed.
It’s funny, isn’t it, how often the way people die reflects something about how they live? The Irish and Scottish sides of my family tend to find this kind of thing very funny at funerals.
And it’s funny how God drops all these little jokes and insights into our laps one minute, and the next minute can seem far away. There’s a rhyme and reason and rhythm to it all, even though we can’t quite figure out what it is, in this world.
Sometimes you will be happy, sometimes you will be sad, sometimes a little of everything. Don’t wallow in bad and depressing thoughts, of course, but don’t treat grief as an enemy to be feared. It’s a feeling. It will come and go.
I saw a good book for kids (or adults) by that Amen guy, if any of the kids start falling into depression-type habits of all-or-nothing thinking or worrying themselves over things they can’t help. He calls them Automatic Negative Thoughts (ANTs), and his book talks about “stomping” them. This blog has a good summary of the sort of thoughts he’s talking about.
http://els4kids.blogspot.com/2008/12/automatic-negative-thoughts-ants-ideas.html



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Dave Boyd

posted February 12, 2009 at 11:02 pm


Amy,
I am holding your whole family in prayer. God be with you.



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Marisol

posted February 12, 2009 at 11:14 pm


Thank you Amy. I lost my fiancee going on 2 years now, just a few days shy of our wedding. As you pointed out at the beginning of your blog the grief is there as it should be and for one I am glad that you were able to share with us what so often I wanted to share with so many but was too afraid to do so because like you said I didn’t want people to think I did not love him much. I too realized at one point that there was a joy that I did try to push away, hide, conceal. It wasn’t until later on that I realized why that joy was there…it was the Lord and as you said he was there “immediately” from the moment Jim got sick, until now. I did love him much, I was going to marry him I loved him so much, but it wasn’t really him whom I loved—it was Jesus in him that I loved. As we are all human, we can not be exactly Jesus, but Jim was for me an image of Christ, that for him I was willing to give my life for as his wife, his spouse, his friend. And I too wanted to be an image of Christ for Jim and for a while I hoped and prayed that I was able to be for him what he had been for me. With that, after seeing him silent and quiet, I knew that nothing was in vain…he had finished the race and was now where I hope and pray to be one day, not for him, but to see Him who Jim loved more than anything because Jesus was all he wanted to live for especially in the end. That’s something worth imitating.
You are in my prayers. God bless you, A+M+D+G



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julie b

posted February 12, 2009 at 11:14 pm


Thank you, Amy. I have been thinking about you and your family often during the past week. Beautiful – I must go and read it again.



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Annette

posted February 13, 2009 at 1:04 am


My experiences with the grief over my children that have gone before me has been similar. It is easy to get caught up in how others think you should be doing. At one point I remember asking someone in response to their question, ” How do you think I should be feeling? Okay that is how I feel.” If I responded how empty I felt, it was thought I wasn’t doing well and on the good days, it was thought I wasn’t grieving enough. That is grief. That has been my experience. One day you are praying the mountains will fall on you and the next day you feel if Christ were any closer and console you any more, you would die in ecstasy.
Imagine what it would be without Christ. Then you would always be praying for the mountains to fall. Embrace those moments of consolation by Christ, and journal them. You will need them to reflect on as the days cycle through the good and the bad. I will continue to pray for you.



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Antonio

posted February 13, 2009 at 9:05 am


Just… thank you. Thank you VERY much.



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Terry

posted February 13, 2009 at 9:37 am


Amy, thank you for sharing. I have had three deaths of close family members (Mother, Grandmother and a 2 year old great niece) in the last year and have been going through periods of grief. With each death the reaction was a little different and the grief was different. The most devestating death was my great niece who died suddenly and tragically in a plane crash. Her mother survived the crash. At the funeral, I don’t think that I have ever seen my neice look more beautiful. She had just lost her child, survived a plane crash with injuries and she was in pain (physical and emotional) but she was beautiful. There was almost a glow about her. There were many tears but there was a grace that can’t be explained. She planned a beautiful party for the guests after the funeral. A celebration of the short life that was full of love and laughter. Lots of pink balloons, flowers and photographs. It was cheerful atmosphere for such a tragic death but it was approprite to celebrate her. The nightmare day of her death was 6 months ago. When you talk about the strangeness of it we can certainly relate to that. There is an emptiness in the house and the laughter that she brought to every situation is missed. The grief continues but the grace that God brings with it makes it bearable and something to embrace in a strange way. Sometimes I look at my neice and wonder how she goes on day after day and keeps a positive attitude but her reply is that that is what her daughter was all about cheerfulness and life. She honors her by bringing that into others lives as her daughter brought it into hers. She goes each day to her grave and prays for the strength to carry on another day. The grief continues as does the gratefulness for having had two wonderful years with Little Sydney.
Peace to you as you go on your own journey of grief. Thank you for sharing some of you story with others who are grieving as well. Prayers are with you.



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JeanS

posted February 13, 2009 at 10:12 am


Amy,
I have only a little thing to offer. But it keeps occurring to me to share it. No doubt you will continue to be asked how you are doing. A dear friend of mine always responded to the question,
“How are you?”
with
“Much better since I’ve seen you, thank you”



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papaz

posted February 13, 2009 at 11:14 am


Amy,
Please accept my deepest sympathies. You and your family have been, and will continue to be, in our prayers. Both your writings and Michael’s writings have been a blessing to my wife and myself.
Grace and peace,
Papa Z



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Rachel

posted February 13, 2009 at 11:38 am


Amy, thank you for writing this. I have a friend from church who has been grieving the loss of her brother since last May. My friend, an amputee, had cared for her brother, a blind diabetic with neuropathy and kidney failure and bedridden for almost a decade. He was her life.
My friend lives alone, and it seems that everytime she starts to feel the blessing, grace, and peace of God come upon her, she cries, “Leave us.” My sense is that she fears that if she doesn’t continue to wear the mantle of grief, her love for her brother will be invalidated.
I am going to visit her this afternoon, and I plan to take your post with me to read to her.
My friend has a gift – she’s such a loving and caring person, and despite her own grief, shows genuine love and concern for others; yet she lives alone and has built a shrine in her home to her brother. My prayer for her is that she will understand what you know about Michael, that her brother ran (for the first time in years) straight into the arms of Jesus and that Jesus is calling her to run toward others who need what her vast and loving heart gave for so long and still needs to give.



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Michelle Melania

posted February 13, 2009 at 12:12 pm


Amy, This is my first visit to your blog via Bigger than a Breadbox. I am so saddened by your loss and pray that God will give you strength and comfort. Thank you for sharing this beautiful post. I look forward to reading your blog regularly.



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MB

posted February 13, 2009 at 1:01 pm


This is the finest thing of many fine things you have written. May it bring you peace as it brings us grace.



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Suzanne

posted February 13, 2009 at 1:42 pm


Jesus be with you, Mary pray tokeep this peace in her heart by your prayers for her and her children. Give her sweet peace that she may carry onward for You, Lord, for Michael and for their children. Amen



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Ellen

posted February 13, 2009 at 2:39 pm


Amy:
Your family and Michael’s parents are in our prayers. We recently (9 months ago) lost our baby during labor – euthus. We were pregnant and in labor one moment, and planning the funeral the next. The sudden reality hits like nothing else ever could. The only thing more overwhelming than the grief was the grace that came soon after.
You wrote:
“I felt as if I could go on, and the moment I so dreaded that loomed a few hours in the future held no more fear for me.
But then I immediately felt bad. Where does this fit? It is not right. There should be no break in the sadness. People will think I didn’t love him.”
I laughed and wept when I read that just now (tears stay fresh a long time). We went through this as well – how much grace is “appropriate” to show? Turns out, the gift of grace to us was actually a gift for so many. So many hearts were healed through the gift of our beautiful daughter – so many hearts are being healed through your sorrow and acceptance of the grace. Through all things, God is good…all the time.
Peace and grace to you and your family.



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Jennifer Hartline

posted February 13, 2009 at 2:50 pm


Amy,
How extraordinary…thank you again for allowing us to glimpse your heart. I can almost taste Jesus in the words you’ve written… He is so clearly carrying you. I’m thankful for that.
The image of your husband running into Jesus’ arms is powerful…
God bless and keep you and your children.



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erika

posted February 13, 2009 at 3:20 pm


Amy ~
you’re an inspiration, even as you suffer this loss. Your post was so deep and meaningful.. I’m so glad you had your moments of peace when you most needed them.. i will be praying for many more moments like that to lift you up when you are needing it most… for you and your children…
words can’t express my sorrow for your loss. I will also offer a mass for Michael and your family..
God continue to Bless ~



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Emily

posted February 13, 2009 at 8:07 pm


You, Michael, and your entire family remain in my prayers.



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Martha

posted February 13, 2009 at 8:15 pm


Thank you, Amy, for your post. I especially thank you for your comments on the gospel of Mark. I will continue to keep you, Michael and your family in my prayers. I was suddenly widowed two years ago and continue to find that in the midst of sadness there is joy. Our Lord has been gracious beyond compare to me.



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David in AZ

posted February 13, 2009 at 8:27 pm


Thank you Amy.
pax et bonum – David



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Tienne

posted February 14, 2009 at 11:13 am


Amy,
Without your gift of words, I can only say Thank You, and God Bless You, for the gift you are. Thank you for sharing at this time; it helps us immeasurably. My heart goes out to you, but I know your faith will sustain you, and that whatever God may place in your path, He will be with you throughout.
In love,
Tienne



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Mary

posted February 15, 2009 at 7:56 am


Amazing Grace! It takes my breath away to see His goodness to us all. And can’t we see Him the clearest when we are hurting?
We have begged Him for mercy, to never leave us, for He has shown us how helpless we are without Him. Then in our times of need, the saddest moments in our lives, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit descend upon us, allowing us to see They will not leave us for a moment.
These eyes of faith, how mysterious they are. Our Lord shows Himself everywhere. When doubts of His existence cross our mind, it is His presence that assures us nothing makes sense without Him. Our Lord shows us we truly are part His body, He was in those loved ones who came running to you, desiring to help you carry this cross. He was in them when they cried tears with you and consoled you with their embraces.
With these eyes of faith we can see it was the Holy Spirit who fell upon you when you were in the car with your children listening to His word. It is our Good God that in your times alone in your grief will protect you from despair, who will prompt you to offer it all up, asking our mother to purify it all and set it before our Lords throne. And in your deep sadness He will give you knowledge that there is a divine plan. With each sorrow the words ‘eye has not seen, ear has not heard…’ will root itself deeper within us.
All Glory to Him! For He will guide all of us thruout our lives, never abandoning us in our brokeness, showering us with His grace and unfathomable Mercy.



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Michelle

posted February 16, 2009 at 10:19 am


Beautiful Amy – My heart goes out to you and yours in your loss. Time and faith will heal. I experieced something similar when my husband died about 12 years ago, after being married for less than two years. I saw him at the funeral home, as everyone paid their respects, and I came up to where he was laying, well, his body was laying, and I remember thinking clearly: he is not here. And being comforted by the fact that his soul was now eternally in heaven. Was the road easy? No. BUt that moment of grace has carried me on. I ofter wonder how hard is must be to get through these situations w/out faith. God bless you!!!



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