Today is March 8th. Previously I have posted about International Women’s Day (click here to read last year’s International Women’s Day: A Photo Journey), but March 8th is also the day my precious Papa died. As faithful readers know, my bedfast quadriplegic papa inspired many from his hospital bed in Williamsburg to love God and do things for God (like me doing years of globetrotting, care-giving, and starting this Roses in the Rubble blog with his enthusiastic encouragement 7+ years ago.)
Yesterday I forwarded this blog post written shortly after Papa’s passing to a friend who recently lost her mother. On this Friday of Lent and memorial of Papa’s passing, it still resonates.
Crying is a gift? To many of us that might seem contraindicated considering runny mascara and red rimmed eyes, but the Gift of Tears is actually considered a charism of the Holy Spirit. Many saints (especially those known for deep spirituality) had this gift.
Remember Jesus wept over the death of his friend, Lazarus.
This gift, described as the “washing of the soul,” often goes part and parcel with the healing process. If the sheer volume of tears counts, my soul should be really clean and my heart should be really healed.
It’s been six weeks exactly since March 8th, the day my Papa died. We cried buckets of tears in the hospital that day, reciting Psalm 23 amidst our tears as his suffering subsided. My Mama wheeled in while his heart was still beating to tearfully grab his hand and say, “Dick, it’s me, I love you…” Hers, the last voice he heard. My stoic brother, who helped take care of him for 13 years, crying on my sister’s shoulder.
He’s gone. Our Papa is gone … and our tears flow on.
We are glad that his suffering is over and that he is resting in the Everlasting Arms of God, but we miss him, LOTS (& LOTS) … and our tears flow on.
Even when it seems no tears could possibly be left and we reach the dry heaves of weeping, something will happen … and our tears flow on.
Returning from the hospital that Saturday my tear reservoir was spent, but as family and friends gathered a few sputtered out. Later that evening while putting things away, I found a bag of Papa’s clothes hastily packed before jumping in the ambulance the day before. The last time my brother picked out an outfit that didn’t match, so as the Fashion Consultant who selected Papa’s clothing every morning I had grabbed something nice for him to wear when he came home from the hospital.
Huge sobs wracked my poor worn out heart … and my tears flowed on.
Later that week while on a mission in downtown Williamsburg to acquire black Birkenstocks for Papa’s funeral (& the misbehaving ankle that wouldn’t fit in my black pumps) I encountered a darling 4-year old girl.
“Hi, my name is Maya.” As her mother went upstairs to find my shoe size, this little girl proclaimed, “I will ALWAYS love my Daddy.” With her big blue eyes looking right in mine, she continued, “I will, I really will!”
Papa always said I was the only one who called him “Daddy.” Like Maya, I will also always, always, love my Daddy … and my tears flowed on.
Even yesterday while picking out Easter Basket treats I reached for Papa’s favorite Russell Stover Sugar-Free Chocolate Covered marshmallow eggs … and my tears flowed on.
The gift of tears is not something I asked God for, but it seems at times He lets our cries draw us closer to His Heart that beats with love for us, and for all. Not just as we mourn our loved ones, but as our hearts are broken by the suffering around us and within us:
God’s agape, everlasting love is, it is, always here for us.
My response: “Everything is so GREEN!” When my daily view of the desert around Bethlehem was brown, brown, brown. (Okay, so maybe there was also a little stress stored up in those tear ducts.)
Stress can make us cry, too – copiously loud tears of frustration.
But, maybe as we cry them (once past the ranting phase) genuine tears will help cleanse our souls and wash us free from angst-inducing doldrums and grief.
And, draw us closer to Christ.
“The mystery of the Cross can only be understood, a little bit, by kneeling, in prayer, but also through tears… All of us have felt joy, sadness and sorrow in our lives; have we wept during the darkest moment? Have we had that gift of tears that prepare the eyes to look, to see the Lord? We are a society that has forgotten the experience of weeping, of ‘suffering with’; the globalization of indifference has taken from us the ability to weep. We can ask the Lord for the gift of tears … it prepares us to see Jesus.” Pope Francis
p.s. This blog is from 5 years ago, but I still miss my Papa! And Mama!