A day rarely passes that I don’t reflect on my dad’s last weeks in Marymount hospital intensive care unit. The rosary that I wrapped around his right hand the final three hours of his earthly life is always within reach. I frequently pass the beads through my fingers with the same prayers that silently stormed heaven from his bedside.
Ray drew his last breath on Sunday, March 14 at 8:24 PM as his soul plunged into the ocean of God’s unfathomable love and mercy. For my dad, it was the triumphant end of a seventy-six year militant journey back to our heavenly Father. For me, it was the end of a sustained vigil during which I fervently prayed for all the grace I could muster on his behalf for a peaceful and joyful crossing of the threshold between mortality and eternity.
My life path had taken me far from my birthplace more than twenty-five years earlier. Recently, I had traveled across country for the second time in two months for what I firmly believed would be the single, most defining moment of my forty-nine year son-ship. That was the moment of my dad’s death.
Prior to this time, I had rarely, if ever, prayed in my dad’s presence, let alone with him, my mom or my sisters outside the holy sacrifice of the Mass. I love my dad and he loved me though, as father and son, we did not enjoy the richness of faith, loving affection and emotional vulnerability that I am so blessed to share with my wife and daughter.
Despite a lifetime of relational timidity, I clearly understood the vital nature of this cherished moment. It was a mission with precise purpose. My purpose was not to merely be present at my dad’s death. My mission, as a loving son, was to be patiently, prayerfully, courageously and spiritually present with my dad in his dying.
Under the mantle of our heavenly Mother, with rosary in hand, I took my place as a quiet warrior beside my dad and dug my heels into the front line of the battle ground between this life and the next.
Drawing from the vast treasures of the Catholic Church, in the company of the communion of saints, I began our vigil of ardent prayer which included the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I meditated interiorly on the words and promise Jesus made to mankind through His secretary of mercy, St. Faustina Kowalska, regarding the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. These words are recorded in Divine Mercy in My Soul, the diary of St. Faustina.
Jesus said: “I desire to grant unimaginable graces to those souls who trust in My mercy” (Diary 687). Jesus told St. Faustina: “Write that when they say this chaplet in the presence of the dying, I will stand between My Father and the dying person, not as the just Judge but as the Merciful Savior” (Diary 1541).
After five days, the time for tearful reconciliation, pleasant conversation and awkward affection had passed. The battle was over, the climb complete. Clinging to this promise, now as then, what more was there or is there to do or say other than Jesus, I trust in You.
Happy father’s day, Dad. I love you.
Copyright 2010 Brian K. Kravec