Caring for someone at home in their dying moments is crazy. Making an elderly family member a part of your household is crazy. Refusing to institutionalize a disabled child is crazy. Giving birth to a child that you know in utero will not be "perfect" is crazy.
Have you ever heard someone say any of the above? Have you? Have you ever thought it in the secret recesses of your heart but never voiced it?
What any of those people may call “crazy”, I call “love”
Love is denying your self. When every fiber of your being is crying out for selfish fulfillment, you tell it to shut up and you deny your self to serve another’s needs over your own.
Love is not just carrying the cross but embracing it. It’s rushing head on to be with someone in their most difficult moment. You know it’s going to be bad but you have to be there-only for them.
My Aunt, who is my Grandma's primary character in Grandma's final days, has been Grandma's companion for 19 years. The death of my brother, and the desire to attend his funeral, gave my Aunt the excuse she needed to get away from her alcoholic and abusive husband. She never went back to him.
But, my Aunt needed my Grandma as much as Grandma needed her. Grandpa died a few years back. Grandma was alone. My Aunt has a partial disability and cannot work. They both needed each other. They could have each walked away. They could have gone off and lived their own lives. There were times they wanted to tell the other to get lost but they knew the other needed them. They denied themselves. They denied the life they could have had and freely chose to give to the other.
My Aunt could put Grandma in a hospital. She will not do that. She's told everyone she will not and she's caring for her at home. My Aunt left the Catholic Church 40 years ago because a priest refused to baptize her child. In the priest's defense, he had no assurance my Aunt would raise her child in the faith. He was right. At the first sign of opposition to her will she raised the child Lutheran. She raised all her kids Lutheran. Indifferent Lutheran really.
But, my Aunt in her distance, knows more about true love and carrying the cross than some of us will ever know. She spent 25 years with an abusive man because she did not want to leave her children.
Lately, my Aunt has been asking questions about the Church again. She made a comment about how when Grandma dies she, my Aunt, wants the Mass for Grandma for herself. I found that an odd comment. She wonders why I leave to go to Mass 10 miles away. She wonder what it is that draws one (me) who was indifferent for so long.
If I found something, maybe she can too? Can we, as we practice our imperfect expressions of love, reach out and find the perfect love that is Jesus Christ?