His sobs came up from his toes. He was a tall man, roughly my age or a couple years older, two pews behind me. He was able to control himself enough to continue attendance at Mass, and then stayed for Stations, but his tears flowed freely. Everyone around him knew he was crying, and every heart was breaking for him. At the kiss of peace, I pressed a tissue into his hand, for I'd heard him sniffing, and it was the only thing I could think to do for him. I didn't know him, but I put every ounce of love and compassion for a suffering man into that hand-off. I asked Our Lady to hold him close.
I complain about my children, expressing frustration at things that irritate me, which I should recognize as "kid-like". Teenagers bring that out the best. So I want to "kill them". (not really, but it falls too easily from our lips, sometimes, doesn't it). Nine of them. Healthy. Beautiful. Bright. Funny. Interesting. Capable. Accomplished. Faithful. Amazing. Healthy. Shame on me for ever uttering that phrase.
There is a young man in our parish, whom I don't know. His name is Colin, and he's 17. Friends went to see him last week, only to find him with his eyes closed. Colin awoke, but didn't open his eyes. He greeted his visitors jokingly with, "DUDE! go away,,,I'm trying to get my beauty sleep." He wasn't catching up on his beauty sleep. He was sleeping because he's end-stage. He maintains his teen sense of humor, and comforts everyone with his jovial nature, but he's going to suffocate to death. The cancer has now spread to his lungs. Thursday, he had difficulty taking a breath. As parents, when our kids are sick, we take them to the hospital to alleviate the symptoms and help them get well. Colin's folks took him to the hospital. The hospital could do nothing to help him. This is how it goes, you see,,there comes a point when there's nothing to do. He will suffer until he dies. What a shocking reality, to be that child's mother,,,what impotence,,what fright,,and no relief for her, either.
I don't want to "kill" my frustrating children. I am refocusing (which is evidently an ongoing process), and firming my resolve to pray for them more, to encourage their prayer life, to ask their guardian angels to help them, to focus more on the Virtues, to point out the many tools available to us in our Faith to help us be better. To be a better example to them, myself.
Colin is not going to be with us much longer. His beautiful soul is ready to meet his Maker, though, I can tell you that. He wants to go to Mass in the worst way. I think Father is planning on meeting that desire, soon, in Colin's home. He thought maybe they might let him go to Mass and Stations last Friday night. With his dad. Who went for him. Who is living out Mary's Via Cruces. And sobbed openly through it all.