A Time for Love

These last weeks I’ve been going through my Mom’s things. Mom passed away on April 12th. My sister and I have been sifting through, deciding on who will possess her things, donate, etc. And even though we went a solid week doing this, individually we are still going through Mom’s items. Being that Mom lived with my husband and I, I keep coming across treasures that are adding more to her memory.

There is something about life as a family when you lose your parents that my sister and I are now just appreciating or maybe it’s a whole new appreciation. Not that we didn’t appreciate our parents before, but I guess with maturity comes different perspectives. In the shuffle of time as a child, speaking for myself, I did much comparing my parents to others. Looking at how my friend’s parents spent time with them, gave attention, cared for, etc. That was my gauge. I grew up with that mentality and captured it against my parents, blocking me from seeing them individually and who they were.

It had much to do with feeling abandoned, which led to insecurity. Frustrations that turned me into being angry with my parents. There was never conversation or intimate talks on what had happened or where things were going. It was living through each day only to be disappointed.

To be clear, it’s not that my parents did not provide for me or celebrate me with birthday parties or Christmas gifts, but the relationship between parent and child and the respect needed was absent. I didn’t feel valued and neither did they. They were facing their own demons that only became stronger obstacles as life went by. Seeing them crutched my soul and paralyzed my lens towards them. Mom never explained to me her life situation, what she was facing, what she was battling when she made the decision to divorce my Dad. I only viewed it as her making the mistake. All my teen years was a lash out for that decision and a heart that at times was bitter towards her. I don’t know why she never shared. Instead she just let me be. Her life too became a result of broken love.

I recently found documentation from my Mom’s annulment process. This has forever changed my view on my Mom to which I regret not knowing about her struggles or her point of view at the time of her decision to divorce my Dad. Life was very different back then. No one butt into others business. Mom pushed through decision out of fear on both sides. Dad was spiraling in his life of addiction and had no grip on reality.

I can only speak for myself, but I feel if I would’ve taken the time to know my Mom as “Barbara” and not just Mom, my relationship with her could have been richer. I say this not to beat myself up, but with an appreciation and awareness to share that with my nephews and niece so they can find that fortune.

Mom was a very reserved person. She wasn’t one to share her frustrations or make her issues your issues. There was much to her life before she was married and while she was married that I did not know. While she lived with me, I did spend time asking her questions on her life. Those conversations were informative, but still didn’t reveal what I recently found.

The point I’m getting here is how much more profound it is to me the phrase “everyone is on a journey”. Dad and Mom battled their family circumstances/upbringing in their marriage. They were equipped with the knowledge they had. It was difficult and inconsistent. Any hurt my sister and I received was the side effect. It wasn’t that they didn’t love us, but they struggled to make it our strength.

Looking back at their lives, I am even more grateful to know what they overcame from all their trials, sufferings, disappointments, battles, by the redemption from Our Lord Jesus Christ. They found Him!

For whatever was absent in my childhood, I received a hundred fold when they both gave their lives to Christ. That is why their presence is greatly missed. Because the love that Christ wanted them to pour out onto our family broke through when they gave their lives to Him. My family and I all received that token of grace. Their lives were not their own. We experienced their love in endless ways that will live in our souls forever.

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Ache

Death can be cruel.

The mourning and grieving is the soft blade that strikes your soul out of nowhere in your day .

Given reality that reminds you of heartache and shame.

Heartache that doesn’t go away.

Heartache that everyday feels like a big empty void caught up in the air which is relieved by inhaling peace.

Peace that comes after the graces and then you do it again next day.

Shame often likes to appear.

From the many thoughts of things you wished you would’ve said while she was still here.

So much pent up appreciation with no air to go.

No other chance to say what you really wanted to say.

Death can be cruel.

Because all what you realize after never gets to be.

You at times feel incomplete.

But you know you can’t keep there but to run to the Father who will help.

That this cruel thing He can only transform into love for someone else.

 

Mama’s Day

Mom passed away on April 12th.  I feel like my whole being is frozen. Living, moving, but frozen. I feel a sense of me is no longer. 

It was not that we did not know she was not well.  It was not because there were lack of signs making it evident that her end was near.

But the speed in which it came is something I am still coping with.

I’ve often written about my childhood and my parents’ selfishness in my upbringing. How the effects of their decisions impacted my sinful choices.

I have also written about the dynamics of how taking care of my mom in her elderly years, reverse roles, was designed by God’s providence to teach us both area of our lives that needed healing.

But there was a lesson given right after Mom died that I had no idea would exist.  I’m pushing through and learning from it.

It is something I feel as though I need to make known to other daughters who care for their mom or don’t even know they too will be put into a situation to care for them.  Sometimes the pace of caregiving can make you lose sight of many things. If I knew those last months, days were my mom’s last, I would have changed how I did things. Some families are blessed where they know their loved one is at the end of their life. Much of my mom’s end felt quick and out of control. I know I can’t beat myself up, but wish I had paid less attention to the tasks and more of the sacred time with her.

My mom’s decline started to happen in December 2020. Out of nowhere she started to experience extreme pain in her upper arms. Thanks to God, mom never had debilitating pain ever in her life. This was new to her which caused her to stay in bed. And with Covid still lingering above our heads, a heavier cross was given to her overall mental health. Since she was already working at being patient in what her frail mind allowed her. Through January we were seeking answers to her pain. Then her blood pressure became an issue and even though her liver issue had seemed to be normal, at the start of March evident physical signs emerged.

I have always done good by mom when it came to her care. If I saw something, I would contact her doctor or research for a home remedy. When I noticed her repeating things, I had her see her neurologist. He said it was Alzheimer’s, but I felt there was something more to it. In the days after, her physical ability started to change. Sleeping more, eating less. I could not get her in with her hepatologist because he was booked, he instructed I take her to his hospital ER to evaluate her. That sequence of events turned out to be her final days.

During the last six months, I was so caught up in the tasks, I would lose the preciousness of the moments.  But there were times we discussed our faith and readiness for death. How on one afternoon I pushed myself to have the discussion with mom on what to pray for in those conversations with Our Lord. Her convicted response was she does pray for a “happy death” and how she prays “for God’s mercy on her sins”. Other times, we talked about memories of her childhood, her love for her grandchildren, and her two marriages.

But there is something more that I am reconciling with Our Lord about “time” at the end of my mom’s life despite all these conversations. Something I feel was missed. And this is what I feel I must make known in some cautionary way.

So often in our relationships with our mom’s we don’t take hold of the sacred time. We don’t ever think of life without her. I have known many women including my mom who lost their mother at a young age. I have seen their tears.  I have counseled and expressed my prayers to them. But there is something I missed or did not understand from them in their mourning. No fault of their own.  Not easy to express what it feels like to lose your mother.  Even now, me trying to put into words how much life drastically changes when your mom’s life is taken, isn’t fully explaining it.

This “feeling” of your mother’s soul not existing on earth is like a deep hole in your heart that extends to the clouds. It’s a hard, anxious exhale. A deep wound looking to be comforted from the one who no longer physically can. It is not like any other deceased loved one in your life. I can’t say I have experienced losing my husband or sister.  But I have lost my father, family, and friend.

Your mother brought you in the world. God’s great gifts are bestowed in a Mother. The fruits of the spirit are the definition of a mother – charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, kindness, self-control, goodness…

In God’s great design, all that I felt I didn’t have in my Mom in my adolescence, she took on His will to allow her to live these great fruits in her later life once she became a grandmother.  Her focus, time, and attention were elevated in what she always had possessed, but didn’t let shine until God helped her recognize.

There are moments I think, did mom know how much I appreciated her? Did she know how much I loved her as she loved me? Did I communicate to her these same fruits she showed me?  All these thoughts are normal in the grieving process.  To question but not stay asking.

When you’re living your life you don’t often think of the moment. We can get caught up in the family gatherings, holidays, etc., but not necessarily pay attention to the person.

I can say my family and I had many great memories.  Mom lived for 78 years.  Birthday celebrations, mother’s days, trips to California.  Shopping sprees at Walmart, her favorite place. Driving down to Tucson, visiting family. Learning her recipes – creole chicken, salsas, chile con carne. Her teaching the grandchildren how to play poker where she learned from Camp Pendleton marines in the early 1960s.  We also had many conversations on her life.  Her childhood. Father dying at age two.  Mother dying at age 38. Never having a father figure. No male ever to show her how she should be valued. Her marriage to my Dad. How much she loved him and the shatter of her dreams when he chose addiction over their marriage. Later, how strong a blessing it was to her that in dad’s recovery, he asked her for forgiveness. Her seeking to find value and love after but never finding it. I value every time we spoke and thank God for all those random discussions that helped me to see her.

I often say to family and friends that God had us come together under the same roof again for healing. Even though mom’s move in with my husband and I was due to her health.  For almost seven years, we learned things about each other.  I learned there was still pent-up anger towards her for not giving me the attention I needed as a child. There were often challenges with that in that moments would hit me where I’m splitting time of my married life to care for her. How I would often have to decline invites because I was caring for my mom. Canceling trips, events, etc. because I couldn’t leave my mom alone. Battling with these reminders on how easily I sacrificed, at times, crippled me because I would remember how mom would set herself first.

Then God did what He could only do.  He flourished in her soul so that I, my sister, family, those in her life, could feel her love in the way He always meant it to be.

For all those daughters who have similar experiences, for the daughters who maybe too busy to see the preciousness of time, to the daughters who are getting fatigued with the care of their mother, for the daughter who thinks there is all this time ahead, for the daughter who doesn’t take the time to forgive – please stop and turn your heart.  The moment Our Lord takes your Mom – nothing – will ever matter so much more than to just have another moment with her.

 I’m living with thankfulness that out does any other experience I may ever have.  I will miss hugging her and kissing her every night. I will miss her sitting at her desk.  I will miss seeing her in my passenger’s seat driving around. I will miss arguing with her about going to the casino. Her telling me my dinners were “so good”.  Overhearing her conversations to my aunts on what my day consisted of instead of her own.  I will miss her asking me “what do you think” when she’s trying to decide to buy something.

Last, I came to realization that in all my time of seeking the Lord, reading countless books, attending church events, mass attendance, confession, podcasts, bible study that there is something strongly missed that could not be gained until your Mother passes away. The mother was designed to give life. Children born is to glorify God and to fulfill His will. The mother in her fiat to do God’s will passes onto the child in continuing to glorify God. Not all mothers know what their role truly is in those initial moments or years. It is faith and belief in Jesus that turns the cycle of life in what it is meant to be. No matter what time in life that becomes known. The love that pours out of the Son to the mother is the greatest source of living. Everything comes to be in right order. The understanding of heaven is ever more real to me now. Because how great the void of your mother’s love to just cease makes no sense. It’s as if to say, that’s it. You had it, now it’ s gone. You’ll never find that again. You’ll never know it again. But that’s not the case. We know a greater love and that is Jesus. That ounce of love that is your Mother’s love is a drop in the ocean compared to Jesus’ love for us. Knowing His promise, communion of saints, the chance to see our loved ones again…sustains me. Ever more real. Ever more grateful.

This way of life now with my husband at my side has forever changed. It’s awkward, strange, doesn’t seem real. But everyday, I ask God to have mercy on my wretchedness. To help me move forward with His plans. And with what I have learned may be shared and be a heart opening in their relationship with their mother so that God’s peace may be full.

I’ll never get another moment with Mom, but I know she knows how much I love her and need her prayers to grow and be ready too when it’s my time to go Home.

Happy Mother’s Day Mama! I love you.

We dare to say

Yesterday after mass, I came out knowing that I would need to stay away from social media because I cannot control what people say. In a broader spectrum, I cannot control much.

For almost the past week now, I have seen Catholics who I have been following for some time on social media, show their appearances of rigidness, judgment, divisiveness, and self righteousness, that has left me to resort to confinement of some degree.

They want to voice how their Candidate who upheld the Christian view is in a fight to keep his presidential role and that anyone who claimed they are Catholic and did not vote for him, must not be.

Maybe it’s a small portion of who I have come across. Maybe it is a sample of a larger scale of what is truly out there. But I do know, that it isn’t what I’ve known my faith to preach.

I heard recently, I think from Fr. Mike Schmitz podcast, how deep the beginning line of the Our Father at Mass is, but how many miss it.

“At the Savior’s command
and formed by divine teaching,
we dare to say:

How many times have I said the Our Father and not taken those words “we dare to say” more to heart! How many of us recite it too and missed it.

Many times, we have had a President in place who is pro choice, but have lived with the elected and worked together. We have many times entered Church and sat in the pew with others who do not approach the faith in the same way, but we’ve been told it does not make us better. How many times have we sat with others who have opposing views, and don’t even know it? The faithful are instructed what to do when our focus becomes to much about something or someone and not Jesus Christ. To be in the world, but not of the world.

As I shuffle through the verses that have been coming to my mind these days, I remembered this parable.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. 9He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.c 10“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 11The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’d 13But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’e 14I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Our job as Catholics is not to add to chaos, but to refer to the Fruits of the Spirit. Why? God is spirit! God dwells in us. God has given us what to cling onto, to rally in when times get tough or trials hit. If the voices you are listening to do not grow your soul, provoke it to rattle , give off dissension and anger, then you have fallen for someone’s agenda.

God’s aim is not about us and them. They are this and we are that. Politics change. Jesus doesn’t.

Yesterday’s Gospel reading told us what each of us should be concerned about:

MT 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 
Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. 
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. 
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Fr. Shea said the oil represents wisdom. The foolish virgins that did not have enough oil were not ready for the Bridegroom. They along the way, stopped being prepared. As in the self-righteous, that think they own the Cross and that a political party owns the Cross too. Jesus is not contained. Didn’t we hear that before? What happened?

God help us to live as servants of God. Help us to foster love and reverence for God.

.

Corona

We’re in this together,
Some in the beginning did say.
We took each day with news,
It got worse along the way.
The mask, sanitizer, stocked in hand,
shoo’d the sick away from somebody’s land
Days, months in,
And here we are,
Some us yelling
Lives matter, are you listening?
Where brother, sister, neighbor, friend,
defending the color of their skin.
Days, months in,
People Covid, comes with questioning
Will this nightmare ever end?
Looks taken within ourselves
Are we gonna make it count?
For there’s no time for sorrow,
Because only with Him +.
Is there even a tomorrow.

Check your oil!

For about a week, it feels as though there is a turn happening.  I don’t know if it is actually happening all parts of the world or just what it seems like for me.  The feeling  feels like a coming on the verge of something.

Part of it, I believe, stems from fatigue now caused by the continued quarantine and restrictions. I hear it in my relatives voices and see it in the eyes of strangers.  At the grocery store, where usually small talk happens, the aim is now the quicker the customer moves out of the way, the better.

Protests under the name of “Black Lives Matter” continue to happen to a degree in cities across the United States, but it appears now some are disguising under it and are rebels causing havoc on the police and city structures.

Racial history and education still much on the forefront, as it should be.  Self reflection from individuals to enterprises, changing their company names and associations to themes associated with racial slurs or connotations.

There are those  a part of this rebel agenda, who are trying to hijack the race discussion by turning their attention to  the  Catholic faith in vandalizing statues or churches.  They believe these Saint statues were a part of racial injustices.  On top of, there have been fires in different parts of the world that have ruined  aged cathedrals.  One, I know to be arson.  The others are still under investigation.

Because there are more issues populating the news feed outside of the Corona virus, it only adds to the hysteria and paranoia to more and more people.  People’s patience turning into anxiety, fear, and deeper worry.  I have caught myself into it. I feel it physically.   Today, I find out my very special aunt who has Parkinson’s is battling it to a high degree.  There’s constant news thrown in your face on all the many things happening in our world instead of calming people in the changes that may need to be.  Namely, that corona may be here for a while, but on the horizon, a vaccine to help combat it.

Unfortunately, I had to confront a sister of mine on a video she was sharing.  This wasn’t the first time a video like this had been sent to me by family.  But I had to.  Videos like this surfacing all over social media. People giving attention to false prophets telling them that the George Floyd death was planned.  Corona virus being provoked by the Democrats.  Political talk that shimmers light on a figure that shows them walking a righteous path of God ignoring  facts that not all steps have been the best for some individuals or people.

I told her to stop buying into this propaganda. To save them self away from this undue fear. How much the enemy wants us to play into these games and be trampled on in our souls and family lives. Invoking despair and passing it onto others as to lose focus on what we should be focusing on.

As I finished writing this, the thought of the virgins with the lampstands came to mind.

The Parable of the Ten Virgins.“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones, when taking their lamps, brought no oil with them,but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.Since the bridegroom was long delayed, they all became drowsy and fell asleep.At midnight, there was a cry, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps.The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’But the wise ones replied, ‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you. Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’While they went off to buy it, the bridegroom came and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. Then the door was locked.Afterwards the other virgins came and said, ‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’But he said in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Therefore, stay awake,* for you know neither the day nor the hour.

My armor and might the Lord has reminded me is to fight with prayer, repentance, and love.  To continue to point others to Whom we place our trust and to give Him all control.  The day is not to be used in fear, but to pray and love one another.  Those are things we can be definite about to our day.  Nothing else is in our control.  Let’s give Him our days.

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False Witness

In order to write this post, I have to reveal an area of sacrifice I’m working on this Lent.  A part of self control, for me, is the sin of gossip.

Throughout my life, I have wrestled with this sin. Before I began practicing my faith, I never knew gossiping was a bad thing.  It was all around me.  Family and friends always used gossip in conversations. It was and still is a way to either vent or share things because we feel we can in either making fun of someone or puffing up our chests to make ourselves look better.

Over time, for me, I realized my confessions continued to cough up this sin and yet, no real self reflection struck me on why this was repeated.

At this stage in my life, I do find myself gossiping, but it’s like I told myself in a certain way…well, I’ll only go this far in sharing, or I won’t say too much as to not fall into the trap. But regardless, I would find myself reflecting on discussions I’ve had with others after that fact and see that no matter how  I wanted to classify it, it was still gossip.

There is a fine line I want to say when it comes to being concerned  over an individual when sharing things for the sake of helping them without their knowledge.  Speaking about their decision making or ways that could hurt them spiritually, those incidents may cause for others to discuss and plan out what could be done to get them back on track.  But to just have a  field day about someone’s lifestyle or continued same actions that cause pain to others, does nothing to keep talking about how awful this person is to everyone.

Coming back to my sin of gossip during this Lent.  I’ve come to take on an action that I first saw as my own penance. And that is to correct myself with those who I gossiped with as a way to reconcile my behavior and sin. Explaining to the individual, that I did wrong and that I shouldn’t have said what I said.   Doesn’t matter if it was one word blurted out or ten.  Doesn’t matter if I didn’t mean harm in sharing, because it is harmful no matter what.  It places me in accountability.  Makes me humble myself that I sinned and want to correct myself because Jesus placed it in my heart and eyes to see what I have done.   Oh how much Our Lord wrestles my heart to show me my sin. I’m thankful.

What catches me to about gossip, is that I wish those individuals who do know it’s wrong, don’t pin it on me or correct me right on the spot. Gosh, how I wish they would. I’m not saying it’s easy to do but I’m going to start trying. Sometimes we don’t do that enough or at least in my circle I don’t see it.  I also don’t see much in asking forgiveness for daily actions that can hinder unity or cause disruption. Most of the time, we don’t want to take notice we’ve done some thing wrong or pride ourselves that we are doing all things right. Really?  There are some things to dig deep about and frankly, I would appreciate if my fellow Catholic/Christian would call me out when I sin so it’s corrected right then and there.  But I know it’s not easy.  Honestly, I know.  And I know I will slip up again, but my hope is the day it completely stops for me. That I am so rooted, it doesn’t make me budge.  And most of all, throughout this self examination, how the path through it gets me to God’s mercy.  It’s there every time.  Like the Light at the end of the tunnel. Once I’ve reflected, accounted for, asked forgiveness, His mercy is there…and I move on.

If the dialogue isn’t fruitful brothers and sisters, there is no end that points to a helpful solution, then do yourself and me a favor….don’t go there!

 8th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 

Added note: The Catholic Church has always taught there is a communal reconciliation

Instrument of Your Hands

Lord, make me an instrument of your hands to care for my mother in her now final season of life.

When she’s impatient, help me to be patient.

When she’s anxious, help me to be peace.

When she worries, help me to show faithfulness.

When she is angry, help me with self-control and gentleness.

Lord, help me to not be overcome by the weight of this journey you have us on.

For through it, it is not only to tend to her needs, but lessons in selflessness and trusting your will where I am to learn.

Thank you for the graces you give us each day and the tender love you allow us to have knowing one day, it will always be with me to carry on.

Parts Truly Unknown

On Friday morning, I get a text at 6 a.m. from my friend Angela informing me that Anthony Bourdain committed suicide.  She knew how much I liked him and knew this would be hard for me to hear. My husband was on his way out for work as I read out the text to him.  He said, “I know. I didn’t want to wake you up with that news.” But he knew, it wouldn’t matter how it came, the news was not good.

The rest of the day and now, I still feel a sense of sadness as I know I am not the only one. The media has continually been interviewing his friends, showing past Parts Unknown (his show on CNN), and my social media is covered with his face.  Mainly, because I follow many chefs. I have a big interest in the culinary scene due to Bourdain.

After a pilgrimage to Italy in 2006 which came with much anxiety because of fear of travel, my craving for food and travel grew.  At that time, to my knowledge, there were not many travel shows other than Rick Steves and Samantha Brown.  Much to my delight, the Travel Channel gave us No Reservations where I first became acquainted with Bourdain’s witty culinary ways.  It right away captured for me an escape from my life in concrete Phoenix suburbia, track house living.

The trip to Italy placed a sense of adventure in me that I knew had to be somewhat contained. Let me preface here, my life is greatly blessed.  To date, my husband and I have traveled abroad two more times after our first Italy trip (London, Paris, Italy again). We travel within the States quite often.  However, I long for travel in the sense that I would like to discover it like Bourdain captured it.  Places not necessarily on the tourist map.

On Sunday’s, I would look forward to his latest episode.  Where was he now? Thailand. Croatia. Turkey. Sicily.  His demeanor was also a familiar connection to me.  He had a bad boy, rebellious nature. Reminded me of my youthful past and the group of friends I hung around with. His taste in music too was much like mine. A like of rock n roll and classics.  His wit also had me laughing as I was amused by how no matter whom he had in his show, he never changed himself to interact with them.  He had them laughing. Giving me a sense that no matter what part of the world you are in, we are all the same.

Once his show went from the Travel Network to CNN, I stayed with it.  I adapted a viewer relationship via his program.  This means about 12 years of fan watching.  And with social media, there became another connection.  It gave the fan a closer connection to his person who we all believed had the best job in the world. Travel and eat the best food. What could be better? He was the one who introduced me to taking pictures of food and share my experience of it.

He was also very vocal on Twitter about social issues.  One in particular had to with the Mexican immigrant and how interwoven their culinary skills are wrapped in America’s fabric.  Always pointing out that if we were to walk into any kitchen across the U.S., you would for sure find Mexicans working the kitchen, citizen or not.

Bourdain was not a believer.  Often on his show, he would give a tidbit on how he couldn’t rationalize believing in a higher power.  I don’t recall him ever pointing out one god over another or Jesus in particular, but he was clear he didn’t believe in any of it. Even when his close friend Eric Rippert was on his show speaking about Buddhism, you could see Bourdain wasn’t fully embracing.  Despite him not having faith, I never heard him bash anyone for believing.  But I know, it would strike him if he felt a religion was, in his view, destroying a people or nation.

So why do I dedicate a blog to him?

Bourdain’s suicide not only shook me, but it had my mind going.  I thought of my cousin Gil who committed suicide in 2010.  Thought of my Godmother who was married to him, his two sons, his family. All of us who went through that day with them. The feeling of life spiraling out of control. The big black hard depth of despair.  The confusion. The pain.

Here we all saw this man Bourdain on TV just about every week or on social media, seeming to live the life we all wanted. Celebration. Laughter. Good food and beautiful environments. But it wasn’t all true. I mean, did he have that?  Yes, I do believe he did. But he also had demons that wouldn’t let him go.

In his early life, he became addicted to heroin.  He spoke about the struggles of it and also shared how he was ‘recovered’, yet always conveying, recovery is day to day. Each day, he worked at it as many recovered addicts do.  I understand this well.  My Dad was a recovered addict. Difference was, my Dad found Jesus and lived his life with freedom from it.

However, from current family who is an addict, heroin is the worst of all drugs you could ever become addicted to.  This is one that has effects for the rest of your life. Now, that’s what I have heard scientifically, but I place all in God and know that if Jesus was in their life, it would be different. And you know, I’m no expert and I don’t want to go into heroin effects, mental illness, when is it not mental illness and we call it a demon, or lack of faith issues.  I don’t have expertise to discuss.

But what I do want to write about is the soul and how our faith responds to someone who has taken their life.

Because Bourdain was a self confessed non believer, my thought process on his passing made me think about the soul like I haven’t encountered before.  Some of his fans were leaving comments on Twitter or Instagram, saying things like “hope you have peace now in heaven or hell wherever you are’, or ‘give them hell’, etc.  I thought what darkness!

In my prayer time and reflection about Gil came forth. Thinking about his time of death and what we as a family learned. Although, Gil did believe in Jesus and was Catholic, family was confused on whether his soul went to heaven. And what I found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church forever changed my outlook.

Suicide

2280 Everyone is responsible for his life before God who has given it to him. It is God who remains the sovereign Master of life. We are obliged to accept life gratefully and preserve it for his honor and the salvation of our souls. We are stewards, not owners, of the life God has entrusted to us. It is not ours to dispose of.

2281 Suicide contradicts the natural inclination of the human being to preserve and perpetuate his life. It is gravely contrary to the just love of self. It likewise offends love of neighbor because it unjustly breaks the ties of solidarity with family, nation, and other human societies to which we continue to have obligations. Suicide is contrary to love for the living God.

2282 If suicide is committed with the intention of setting an example, especially to the young, it also takes on the gravity of scandal. Voluntary co-operation in suicide is contrary to the moral law.

Grave psychological disturbances, anguish, or grave fear of hardship, suffering, or torture can diminish the responsibility of the one committing suicide.

2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

Bourdain stood up for the marginalized. He brought to light topics of the poor, no one else was touching in this form of media. He used his celebrity to bring witness, life that the world sees as dejected because they don’t live like we live.  But in reality showed more riches in their cooking or family members.   In a sense, we saw the Beatitude come to life “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”.  And he used that compassion, which I believe was placed in him by God. Even though, he never claim that. And it wasn’t always about the poor, but sharing stories of those living with wars around them.

In God’s mercy, we leave his soul and others who have taken their lives in such despair.  For we really do not know. I for one need to be aware to check on another.  From the one who we think has it all together to the one who looks like they are crumbling.

My food pics and travel will forever have root in Anthony Bourdain. For these I leave…

*******

Help us Lord to be more aware. Help us with courage to speak to those who do not show their belief in you Jesus, so that we may direct them to your love and mercy.  For we know as St. Peter says “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” Heaven is not out there only in the sky, but can by the grace of God, can be attained in the heart with true joy.  In how Your peace can allow them to breathe again. +++

Time

Lately, I’ve been in some kind of mode of embracing the present.  It’s not that I have never had these moments before like when at a family gathering, or a trip, or an outing.  I have had many that I’m thankful Our Lord push that button in me to recognize so that I can grab onto it.  But lately, it seems to be more prevalent.

As I mentioned before, my Mom lives with us.  It’s now going on 3 years.  However, these last months, she’s been staying with my sister in Tucson. My sister and I both knew this is how it would probably work out with my sister now living in Tucson. It gives Mom the flexibility of having both of our homes to live. Tucson is her hometown and we both want her where she’ll have most peace.

So in this time, Mom not being home with me, I have the time to work on things or be a part of things that I have held off. That’s mainly my issue since I tend to give my attention fully to her when she’s with me.  I have not mastered to balance my life and responsibility of her very well.

These days, in whatever it is I’m doing, I find myself stopping to a moment or fixate on what I’m doing more often. It can be anything from a physical ability or the wind hitting my skin. A memory from childhood or a book I’m reading that will make me stop and center on it.

When I recently saw my Mom who I hadn’t seen for three weeks, I just held onto her. Recognizing how I really have missed her. Thanking God to have the time shared.

I’m not sure I fully understand why it’s happening.  Part of it, I admit, could be the world news.  Random shootings, natural disasters, family suffering…I also think about where my husband and I are in our lives.  I’m 46 yrs and he’s 51. The clarity is there that we are letting go of that youthful time and entering the next season.  We have lived in our first home for 19 years. And with some recent home projects we have done, I have remembered the memories we have had or our marriage has had living here.  Also being aware of some blessed wisdom we have received and awareness of faith in our lives has added to that present moment thought process.  In no way am I saying that we are a well oiled machine and got it all right, we are learning each day. But to know and use that basic toolbox of faith and apply it to our lives, means so much at this stage in our lives.

I take this current situation in my life as a gift. I’m sure many of us have it.  I’m going to try record about it more.  With time passing by fast it seems, I at times get a little anxious because I physically can’t see all I would like. I truly love each one who I know on the most part understand. I can’t get to everyone in the sit down way I would like. Most of the time, I have to compromise how I use my energy. But I can for sure say, I have remembered a life event or given a prayer for each one in present moments each day as I think of them.

I just found this article.  I’m sure I’ve learned about this before, but lost its significance.  I’m linking it to share so that it may guide you too.

It’s from Catholic News Agency titled ‘Are you missing the gift of the present?’

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/cw/post.php?id=67

Thank you Lord for giving me this gift I didn’t first recognize as one. Now I will be sure to embrace it even more.

Leticia Ochoa Adams

Just trying to figure out this thing called life

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