Sunday, June 12, 2016

Being Still

This past week has been somewhat of a blur. Since my last post, we've held Vern's wake, funeral, and committal ceremony. They fell across three separate days; a trilogy giving honor to such a great man. Tuesday evening we held our regularly-scheduled Council meeting and we went out to McCarthy's after wards, as was our tradition. The only difference is that Vern wasn't there. The group was larger than our usual 6-7 people, because more from the Council wanted to pay tribute to Vern. We ordered our usual wings and we all shared a beer ordered in Vern's honor. There were tears, but there was also much camaraderie and laughter which Vern would have wanted.

The days following was returning to work and to "normal". I went through the motions and while at work I tried to live through Vern's example and be kind and patient and understanding with others. I still awake each day with an emptiness and I still find the loss so unbelievable. I am trying to be productive. In the mornings when I awake and dread facing another day, I recall how Ed, while battling cancer and knowing it will eventually take his life, got up and lived each day, never complaining. And Vern, feeling discomfort which ended up being a heart attack which was the start of the end of his life, kept up with his many responsibilities and bounding through the day with his usual positive attitude where no one but him could tell the discomfort he was feeling.  So when I think of this, it reminds me that I need to do the same. To get up each day and live my life to the fullest especially since the ailment I have is a broken heart.

This weekend is full of chores, things that need to get done in the yard and around the house. I've always been one to keep moving because when I don't, grief and sadness catch up to me. That is still happening. I am trying to sit quietly each morning, to enjoy the sunshine, listen to the birds, and just be still while I sip my daily cup of coffee. I'm hoping that if I sit quietly for a few minutes, I will hear Ed or Vern or God (or whatever you like to believe) speak to me. But what I find right now is that when I sit quietly, the loneliness and sadness envelope me. I know tears cleanse the soul and maybe this is just what I need to work through. I'll keep working at it though.

This morning I stopped and sat and watched a bunny outside the window. I haven't seen a bunny in years and so I just sat quietly and watched it for a bit while it ate the clover in the yard. I noticed the goldfinches outside the kitchen window and the robins nesting in two different bushes. I try not to notice instead the things that need to be done and need to get onto my "to do" list. They will get there, but I'm working to slow down, just for a few minutes, and just enjoy the peace and quiet that surrounds me and appreciate it rather than be unnerved by it. And maybe, just maybe, if I can learn to do this, I will also learn to hear the voice of Ed, Vern, or God and recognize them in signs around me. If I can just learn to be still for a moment. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Loss of Another Dear Friend

Fr. Vern passed away Wednesday evening, June 1st. I sit here mourning his passing, with hundreds of others. I've known Vern (as I personally called him in private settings) for 21 years. Yes, I know many in the diocese of Springfield knew him this long or longer and many people have stories about their life with Vern. But this is my story...

I came to know Vern when he was first assigned to our parish. Our friendship grew over drinks and appetizers after monthly parish council meetings and stopping by the rectory after Mass each week and visiting with him and his mother. Of course those weekly visits after Mass included dragging Dan along with me. Sometimes Dan just sat and read his Harry Potter books, which him and Vern talk about. How Vern loved those books and recently told me all about his visit to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando. I remember when Vern gave Dan a box of these Harry Potter jelly beans with such gross flavors. Vern thought those were quite a hoot!

And speaking of a hoot, Vern's mother was a hoot as well. Our weekly visits to the rectory included stopping to see her as well. Vern always recalled the story of how touched she was when Dan brought a rose for Mother's Day. She was not there to receive it personally and Vern told Dan to write her a note to leave with it, which Dan begrudgingly did. Through this, though, he learned a life lesson of how that simple rose and personal note made Ida's day and she kept both until she passed.

Vern and Ed had a unique relationship as well. Although Ed was raised Catholic, he was not practicing when we met and he never returned to actively going to church. But Ed just clicked with Fr. Vern. He enjoyed our private get togethers with Vern and Vern had his clever way of getting Ed involved in our parish in small ways--whether it was the Germanfest or installing mirrors and glass at the new rectory. Ed and I stayed at Vern's condo in Maine one weekend, proof of how comfortable Ed was with Vern....and how Vern, through his unique way, brought Ed back to "church" in a different way.

My memories of Vern could go on and on so instead I'll sum it up in this way.  Yes, Vern was my pastor and priest and today I realize how I took for granted that I had the privilege of seeing him, talking with him, and giving him a hug pretty much every week for the past 21 years. I also had the privilege to know him personally and enjoyed many small get togethers with close friends where we laughed late into the night. Oh there were times we were so silly...private moments to hold dear in my heart.  I also had the privilege of sharing "behind the scenes" details and moments with Vern whether it was documenting the building of our new church and rectory or working with him to record his CDs.

My heart aches today and tears easily come to my eyes for I will miss having Vern in my life. I still cannot fathom going to Mass each week and not hearing his voice or seeing his smiling blue eyes. No more looks across the room during Council meetings knowing what each was thinking as some topic dragged on and on. No more camaraderie after Council meetings. Yes, the memories will live on in my heart forever.  But today I'm having difficulty with the fact that another great man in my life is gone.  First my father, then my brother, then Ed, then my brother-in-law Larry, and now Father Vern.

Sometimes life just sucks....  But Vern would not want me to feel this way. He showed me how friends can fill your life with laughter and love and he was an example of thoroughly enjoying and living life.  And so today, and in the days that follow, I will try to remember that and do my best to live my life by the example he set.

Vern, you lived your life serving God and through the faith you taught us and exemplified, we know you are in a glorious place right now. Why you were taken from us at this time is not for us to understand in this human life of ours for it is not our will, but God's.  Until we meet again, my friend. Until we meet again...

From one of our many trips to the Griswold Inn on a Friday night.

I love these two guys...