Loss. It’s a strange word. It implies that you once had a thing and now, not only is it gone, but you can no longer find it. Last night I lost my mom. And yet, is she lost? Is she even gone? My mom was a powerhouse of a woman, and now, she’s gone. Truth be told, I haven’t even begun to process this. But I wonder about the use of the term loss. I lost my mom, I think to myself. “I’m sorry for your loss,” people say to me. But have I lost her? Do the dead leave us? I don’t think so.
For some, saying the dead never truly leave us means something sentimental. So long as I can remember my mom, she isn’t “really gone.” But memory can only do so much. Yes, when the Father thinks
— when he “remembers” — he does so in such a way that it generates the person of the Son. But I am not the Father. I still don’t think my mom is gone. Death is not the end. It simply isn’t. This is as much a metaphysical reality as it is a spiritual one. My mother’s journey is far from over.
We have disconnected ourselves from death in this modern age. We have hidden it away. I wish I could be home and give my mother a proper wake; force myself, and others, to spend time in the presence of her body and the absence of her soul. It is too easy to focus on her soul and forget the pains of her body. And the materialists would focus on her the end of suffering for her body but absent her soul entirely. But this is not what we believe as Catholics. The book of Hebrews tells us “we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,” and this is meant to be a means of hope. The dead surround us, and because of that the author of Hebrews calls us to abandon sin and run the race that God has set before us.
My mom, like all people, was a complicated woman. She was, biologically, my paternal grandmother, who decided to adopt me when my birth mother gave me up for adoption. Every good thing I am today is a product of the grace of God working in that decision. I will forever be grateful.
She used to tell me stories of her childhood. My favorite includes her grandmother, who wore dentures but hated the way they fit. She apparently spent most of her time not wearing them but clenching a corncob pipe in her jaw. My mom loved her grandmother. She loved her independence, her hardiness, her willingness to be silly and have fun as she chased my mother around, whipping her with a towel. Then there was the time my mom stole her parents’ car and drove it around, just for the fun of it. I wish I had known her then, or at least gotten more stories from her. And yet she doesn’t live in these memories. She lives in a reality I cannot even begin to comprehend now. But what I do know for sure is that she is not lost. I have not lost her. She has simply moved into a mode of being I cannot engage, but I can sense with something beyond my normal senses. This is the hope of Christianity: Our dead are not truly dead. Christ defeated death. And so I can say with the Apostle Paul, “Where, O Death, is thy victory? Where, O Death, is thy sting?” Of course it hurts that I cannot be with her as I once was. I do not deny the hurt I feel now. But I have hope, the hope that only Christ can bring as one who tasted death and conquered it by dying. Life will come from death. Vita ex morte.
“Perpetual Light” Tough as nails and yet as warm as summer, Soft and yet you never would back down. You brought me home and you became my mother, And so you served for all the kids in town. If you ever buy your tongue, you wouldn’t speak; You always knew yourself and spoke your mind, And yet your love was not a little leak, But a flood, a flood that changed the wind. Through good you showed us just how much you loved, Always ready to offer up a feast. But you’ll join the feast that’s up above, And learn to see yourself as first, not least. May He bathe you in perpetual light, And I will see you when Day overcomes the night. - David Russell Mosely
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Dr. David Russell Mosley is a poet and theologian living and teaching in the Inland Northwest. His debut book of poetry, “The Green Man,” is available from Resource Publications. In his spare time, Dr. Mosley likes wandering around in the woods, spending time in community and smoking a pipe.