When All the world has a blue filter . . . .
The international news . . . . the European news . . . . is wiped out with the image of a beautiful little clothed drenched innocent baby boy ~ drowned washed up face down in the sand on a beach ~ lifeless ~ (the place where families spend quality happy time together in the summer.) When you are a mother your core shrinks into a violent clenched knot at the shocking image ~ retching in breath for relief. Your breast yearns erect in a drawing motion ~ tugging to save a child belonging to another mother. Your heart violently tears and re-seals itself, and tears again and again and again. We mothers are all sisters and our pain is shared the world over ~ I Am a mother to your child ~ You are a mother to mine. Our teardrops are like the ocean ~ salted ~ and spilt ~ and shared between us all. We are nothing without each other. We are Mother.
I recently applied for a perfect job with the Medaille Trust ~ they meet face to face the devastation that Human Trafficking creates ~ the biggest growing tragedy and threat to society today ~ and they help directly those who are victims. There are not many jobs that I would be perfect for. Speaking in parishes at the weekend ~ raising awareness and funds whilst helping those in need ~ it is about All I Am employable for. My application was a success. The email conversations I had were even more successful ~ I was to meet up with the organizations representative ~ she appeared to like me. Success at last. The job fitted in perfectly around the timetable here. It would give me a small regular income for a little independence this end ~ and allow me finally to work for my diocese. I would finally be judged and known based upon my own merits . . . . .
And then everything was taken away from me again . . . . . . because . . . . . !
And I want to scream at the injustice. And I want to run away. And leave the whole of the Catholic Church behind ~ Because this diocese has killed my future within it ~ without ever being a part of it or ever truly belonging to it ~ I may as well have never given my heart ~ my soul ~ and my life to her in the first instance.
And I die quietly again and again and again ~ alongside my beautiful best friend.
For the last 48 hours (all but sleep) I have sat vigil next to my best friend who is dying. Today after softly speaking and sharing my thoughts on her condition, her brave husband called the priest ~ and the priest came and administered the Last Rights. It was the first time I had ever been present when the Last Rights were given. Her husband and I received the body of Christ and we shared some beautiful prayer time. Having shared such a sacred space with my dearest, I was surprised at how ordinary The Last Rights felt. Maria despite coming from a very strict Dutch Catholic family ~ doesn’t believe in the Sacrament of Confession with a priest ~ in fact just the week before when she received Holy Communion she told the priest she doesn’t have anything to confess ~ he said ‘there must be something she could think of’ and so she came up with some things ~ we giggled together about it when she told me ~ She seriously confesses direct to God. She is the most Mother Mary like woman I know. Not much to confess with such a pure heart. Today my darling friend is passed the point of receiving the Eucharist bodily ~ she is even passed the point of receiving life-giving water ~ I gently swab her lips with a damp cloth and thoughts of Jesus having a cloth soaked in vinegar comes to me. The end I know ~ however far away ~ is close.
The previous 24 hours had been a disturbing 24 hours ~ often I was the only adult in the house with her ~ it was difficult even when there were 2 adults present ~ witnessing my beautiful friend confused and unsettled ~ Continously distressed and calling out for her Mummy ~ who is in her 80’s and lives in Nevers in France ~ close to St Bernadette. All I could do was stroke her arm, and soothe her forehead and her hair, kiss her hand like a baby and tell her ~ ‘I Love you’ ~ ‘its ok sweetie, we are all here with you’ ~ ‘you are doing really well my darling.’ Yesterday in her distress, she caught sight of the tears in my eyes and she raised her hand to my cheek and stroked my hair ~ and her daughter and I just shared the moment in silence ~ recognising the most beautiful maternal Love of the most beautiful gentle-woman I have ever known.
Today however was beautiful ~ if one can call their best friend on their death-bed beautiful. Her pain control was adjusted ~ distress was absent ~ peace reigned supreme ~ and there was nothing but Love and Spirit present all day long. The waiting and the stilling was filled with a contemplative tranquility ~ in fact ~ I sat in stillness most moments at her side, quietly reading ‘the Ignatian Adventure’ book ~ whilst looking up the relevant scripture references and psalms in my Brown leather Ignatian Bible, whilst her boys could be heard playing in laughter downstairs.
Twice in the day nurses came and went ~ One Irish nurse and I really clicked. In 2 days (in 2 half hour visits) we have shared such a sacred space ~ so deep ~ that time lost all sense of time, and something of the Eternal blessed us both. We talked about Maria ~ and about all our families ~ the nurse came from Dublin ~ We shared the fact that we all have a very strong faith ~ But mostly we shared a maternal instinct that only a mother can know. The palliative care nurse said she loves her job, but seeing young women die with young children breaks her heart every time. She has to gather herself together before she returns home. She had a maths assessment yesterday after her visit to us ~ and was really worried about it, she is an older woman (maybe in her 60’s) who has done a degree in palliative Care, and passed ~ but she had a maths assessment of some kind ~ and was dreading it. So I told her to ‘imagine Mother Mary taking her blue robe off ~ and wrapping it around her shoulders in protection’ ~ I swear it works every time.
Today on her departure after leaving Maria’s bedside she looked at me and shook her head in sadness ~ and then she came and hugged me as if she was never going to see me ever again ~ and as she held me she said ‘Thank You’ ~ and instead I turned it back upon her and I said ‘Thank you to you, for everything that you do’ ~ She held on to me tightly as Gerald stood in the hallway ~ and that was all that was needed ~ for him to see the solidarity of woman ~ for him to change his emotional posture ~ and instead of still trying to be solving everything that is unsolvable, he himself dissolved into Grace. Later as he lay upon the bed in Love next to Maria, I sat silently praying by their side. He didn’t want me to leave.
At one point after his shower William Maria’s youngest child, came into the room and sensitively stood by my side, he came and cuddled up beside me and said ‘Hows Mummy doing’ ~ I said ‘go and give her kiss if you like William’ ~ and with that he bounded onto the bed in true William style ~ laid right upon her chest in a beautiful embrace ~ where she stirred from her unconsciousness ~ smiled and said ‘hello ~ night night’ It was the biggest response anyone has had for 24 hours. I sat with her for an age after Gerald returned to work to collect Geraldine ~ just observing her laboured breathing ~ Its a miracle how someone dying goes on, and on, and on. I think of the assisted suicide bill ~ and I thank God for the gentle goodbyes and the Love we have all shared between us and Maria and each other. The process of healing has already begun.
At the end of today when her husband and daughter had returned from work, they all climbed upon the biggest Giant bed I have ever seen, and sat as a family holding each other ~ just being in Love ~ with Maria. William said ‘she looks like a baby’ and I said ‘yes she is really peaceful ~ and happy William ~ just like a sleeping baby’ and he said ‘yes she is isn’t she ~ peaceful ~ just like a baby’.
And then I left them just to be ~ a beautiful family ~ restored in all their brokenness ~ in Love.