Thursday, October 26, 2017

I Love You, Mémère

Written by  Celeste Woloschuk

I remember when my Mémère died, I was pulled out of school in the middle of the day, went home, packed and went with my family straight to the small town where she lived with my Pépère and my Aunt and Uncle. It was the middle of the week, but it didn’t feel like the middle of the week, or even that I had anywhere to be other than there. On our way to the funeral home our first morning there, we walked past the elementary school in town. There were kids laughing and playing and running around. And I thought ‘What are they doing? Why are they at school? Shouldn’t they be at home?’ It took me a few minutes before I realised that, though my world had stopped turning, their world kept on going and that they had no idea what my family and I were going through. It was like I was in a bubble, insulated from the realities of everyday life.

When there is a funeral in the Cathedral, I find, more often than not, that same bubble effect that I had experienced comes to dwell for a time in the Cathedral. The work day starts as it usually does, with phone calls and mail and the like. But, the moment the funeral home car pulls up and the family and friends of the deceased begin to arrive, there is a change in the atmosphere – the bubble begins to descend. It hovers over the Cathedral through the funeral, carries on into the lunch and only lifts when all those who stayed behind, who needed to be together for just a little while longer after the lunch, have said their goodbyes, parted and left for home.

The bubble creates an interesting effect. It almost feels like I’m looking or walking through glass – I know I’m in the same space as they and yet there is something that separates us. While time keeps moving for me, while my world keeps on turning, I know that in the bubble, time has stopped. And when I need to go through the bubble for one reason or another, it’s a little disorienting, like I’m moving ‘in and out’ of time.

When my Mémère died, I was a teenager; I didn’t know what the bubble was or how to deal with it. But as I grow up and as I come into contact with it more and more, I don’t believe this bubble is a pocket of sadness or grief. It feels more protective to me than anything. And really, that makes sense. In the Gospel of Matthew, we hear “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). And who better to comfort and protect those who come to mourn here at the Cathedral than our God who knows grief, who died and conquered death in the resurrection, our God who is “our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Ps 46:1), who has prepared a place for us in heaven (John 14:3).

Whether the bubble is God’s protective wing or simply the Spirit hovering over us as it hovered over all of creation in Genesis, I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to ask when I eventually make it up to meet God.

With the Commemoration of all the Faithful Departed (All Souls’ Day) coming up next week, let us pray for our departed family and friends, for our brothers and sisters in Christ and all who have gone to live eternally with God. And let us pray and give thanks to God for the protection and comforting presence of the Spirit when we are most in need.


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