Today is the first anniversary of my sister’s death. That was the single most painful day of my life, and believe me, it had lots of competition. That phone call. My screaming “NO! NO! NO!” to my poor nephew. My weeping and sobbing in my office, which caused a couple of social workers in the building (I worked at a mental health center) to come and knock on my door to see if I was OK. God bless them. It was so hard to imagine that my sister could be gone. It is still so difficult. I am hoping that the passage of the complete year will help to take some of the sharp edges off the grief.
This morning I had mass said for her. It was very beautiful. I only cried one Kleenex worth, and felt relief that I didn’t totally lose it.
The Old Testament readings for this week are from the book of Tobit. Oh, how I love this book. (It is part of the Catholic and Orthodox biblical canon, and is not found in all bibles.) This morning we read the passage where Tobit prays to be stricken dead after his wife has insulted him.
Lord, command me to be delivered from such anguish; let me go to the everlasting abode; Lord, refuse me not. For it is better for me to die than to endure so much misery in life, and to hear these insults! — Tobit 3:6
Then we read on about Sarah, who has lost seven husbands, each on the wedding night, before any marriages were consummated. She is insulted by one of her father’s maids and also prays for death.
With hands outstretched toward the window, she prayed and said “Blessed are you, O Lord, merciful God, and blessed is your holy and honored name for ever. May all your works praise you for ever. And now, O Lord, I have turned my eyes toward you. Command that I be released from the earth and that I hear reproach no more.” — Tobit 3:11-13
Now, honestly, I would expect that God would hear this as whining and self-centeredness. That the Lord would not be impressed by these dramatics! Instead, we hear:
At that very moment the prayer of both was heard in the presence of the glory of the great God. And Raphael was sent to heal the two of them. — Tobit 3:16-17
God had mercy on them both and sent his Angel to do a whole lot of work to get everything straightened out. Read the rest of the book to find out how – it’s really a wonderful story.
I was struck today by this mercy. This love. This willingness of God to listen to us and answer us even when we are being a little bit nuts. He doesn’t say “Oh, calm down!” or “Stop overreacting!” He listens and cares.
I am so grateful for this. xoxo