"It was good for me to be afflicted, so that I might learn your decrees." - Psalm 119:71
I would like to say that my father's death has been a lesson in grief. To say that would make it easy. It has been so much more than grief.
It has been pain, the merciless ripping open of old wounds that had barely begun to heal.
It has been betrayal, the desecration of trust after sacred trust, to the point where nothing that is sacred has been left inviolate.
It has been bewilderment, with questions that will never be answered this side of death.
It has been an aching longing for the hope of absolution and reconciliation that were abandoned, extinguished with his life.
I have felt abandoned, unloved, forsaken, deceived. Yes, this has been much more than grief.
But, I am not without fault. For with every stab of pain or betrayal, every disillusioned thought, every unfulfilled hope, I have had a choice: to love and feel pity, or to retaliate in anger and resentment. I confess that I have quite frequently chosen the latter.
Oh, I can pity him the pain he obviously suffered. I can miss the man who held me in his arms when I was a little girl and scared, until I fell asleep to the sound of his breathing. I can love.
And, I can resent the man who chose not to see my children grow. Who abandoned me. Who first had abandoned my mother and our family in the most cruel and callous way possible. Who left me not so much as a farewell letter, though he had written several that morning, to others. Not to me. Yes, I can resent this man.
I say that "it was good for me to be afflicted." There is so much I need to learn.
To pray for those who hurt me.
To judge not, lest I be judged.
To be filled to overflowing with gratitude for the love of God and for His salvation.
To stare my anger in the face and stare it down, and choose, instead, to love.
Is this not the root of it all? The Decree of Decrees?
And, if all of this has taught me how to love just a little more--to really love, when it hurts--can I call this affliction anything but good?
O Blessed Mother, who prays for me, though I caused your Son to be crucified, pray for me now; teach me to love. And, on this day when we celebrate your Assumption into Heaven, pray for the soul of my father. Bring him home to be with you and your Son, Our Lord, Jesus. Amen.