“This is the message you have heard from the beginning: We should love one another.” (1 John 3:11 NLT)
It was a late Winter’s day. I was 25 years old and at the one place I never wanted to be. I was sitting in a hospital by my dying Mom’s bedside. For 4 long years she had bravely battled the cancer that slowly weakened and destroyed her body. She never gave up hope. She never stopped trying. And she never stopped loving. Through that time I felt myself grow closer to her than at anytime in my childhood. I prayed for more time but it was clear now that I wasn’t going to get any. I leaned over, took her hand in mine, and talked to her while we waited for the rest of the family to arrive. I could feel her life slipping away and part of my heart was dying with her. Even though she was in horrible pain she held on until the rest of the family arrived so we could all say our goodbyes. As she took her last breaths my eyes filled with tears, my heart filled with pain, and I didn’t know how I could go on without her.
After her death my own health broke. I developed double pneumonia after her funeral. It took a long time for my body to recover and even longer for my heart to start to heal. I think a part of me is still grieving and healing even today. One thing that kept me going was my children and knowing a new child was on his way.
It was nine months later and I was in the hospital again. My wife had just had a C-section and I was looking down at our new baby boy. The nurses had said it was a shame he hadn’t been born a girl because his eyelashes were so long and his face so beautiful. While my wife rested I held him in my arms and gently rocked him. I stroked his little hand with my finger and felt a wave of joy wash over me when he grabbed it and held on tight. Part of me was sorry that he would never get to know his grandma, but I vowed that he would feel her love through me. I vowed to shower him with kind words, countless hugs, and all the love that my Mom had given me.
Lacordaire wrote: “Love is the beginning, the middle, and the end of every-thing.” We should seize every second then to give it, receive it, and share it with everyone we can. We should shower our families, friends, and communities with our love. We should use it to help God build a better world for us all. We should carry it in our souls as we walk through this life and into the next. That is what my Mom did and that is what I am striving to do as well.
Joseph J. Mazzella