Sunday, March 21, 2010

Rest in Peace

I went to parochial school; class sizes are usually smaller than in public schools, but my class was exceptionally tiny. I graduated 8th grade with 13 other students! Last year we celebrated our 20th grade school reunion at the school's alumni luncheon. We had a respectable turn out and it made for a wonderful way to reconnect with each other. Many of us had lost touch after college. I will credit Facebook with being instrumental in finding as many people as we did.
The bizarre thing about our little group was that of those who attended the reunion, 8 of us had lost a parent or sibling. My best friend since 3rd grade, Mrs. H had lost both her sister and her father. Three deaths had occurred in the months leading up to the reunion. We were only 33-34 years old last year, how could we have suffered so much loss already? Aren't our 20s supposed to be about weddings and our 30s about breeding? Last week we lost one of the 5 boys from our graduating class.
I feel like I am living under a cloud of death. In the year that my father died I attended, or should have attended, 8 funerals. And the crazy thing was that this wasn't just older people dying. Nearly each decade of life was represented, from a teenager to an octogenarian. The next calendar year wasn't much easier, there were more funerals for me to attend, including that of my parish priest. Only two of my closest freinds can relate to this. Most people my age don't go to as many funerals as I do. I realize that I'm in the Altar Society and that predisposes me to a higher likelihood of funerals, but it is much more than that. In the 9 years that I have known my husband he has only had 3 deaths that I can think of. Isn't that wonderful? I could only wish for 1 year to be that light! It is only March 21st and yet already this year I have been to two funerals, both of whom were Central Catholic boys. What is going on?
My classmate struggled with addiction for over a decade. It began with an injury to his back that allowed for doctors to prescribe pain medication to him. The funeral, at the same church where we received ourearly sacraments, performed Christmas programs, graduated, and for many of us later received the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, was heartbreaking. Seeing the pain of his sisters, who acted as his pall bearers, was difficult. Seeing his father in tears reminded me of my own father and I could feel his loss of his only son. Seeing his mother being supported down the aisle was more heartbreaking than one could imagine. We aren't supposed to bury our children. As a mother you instantly place yourself in another mother's shoes; I cannot begin to imagine how devastated she is. When you think of all you go through to get pregnant, carry the baby, nurse him, comfort and teach him and then to lose him at 35? It's not right. No matter how much pain he has been in all these years it is hard for me to get to the place where I would think at least he is at peace now.
Which is dumb, because that is exactly what I was thinking in January when my Uncle died, having lost his battle with cancer. Of course he is gone too soon, but now he IS at peace. He can stop fighting his demons. I regret that he was unable to be in a place where he wanted to join us at our reunion last year. I don't have any false hopes that somehow, we could have saved him. It is obvious that his family was working their asses off to save him. There is a plan for the life of Mr. S. I hope that his family finds comfort in that. Sometimes it isn't readily obvious, but for me I know that his passing has opened up my eyes to how serious our problem with prescription drug addiction is and how susceptible we all are to it.
Rest in Peace, Mr. S.

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