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The Fragility of Life

I attended the All Soul’s mass on November 2nd to remember a very close friend and one of our own SPs that recently died, Sister Jane Marie Osterholt. It was during that service that this blog post started to evolve.

I, along with many others, stood in the back of church holding candles, which represented the persons we loved and lost. At that moment, the month of November became a mixed bag of emotions for me and I wondered if it were the same for all those people.

This month represents so much … Saints, Soul’s, and Thanksgiving, which we’re about to celebrate in just a week. For those of us at that mass, as well as for others elsewhere, this will be the first Thanksgiving without our loved ones physically present.

Photos of loved ones displayed by Sisters of Providence at the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods, Ind. years ago during an All Saints Day Liturgy.

As I watched the people during this memorial service and saw the myriad of emotions they expressed, myself included, I wondered … are they, am I thankful? How could we, how could I, be thankful when the fierce blow of grief has taken the wind right out of us?

I don’t know the stories of the family and friends that were present or the relationship they shared with their loved ones but I imagine those relationships were at times “a mixed bag,” just as mine was with Jane.

However, as I stood for that brief time with the others in the back of church there was the unspoken word of love. In that brief moment, I felt and knew thanksgiving. The tears and the heavy hearts represented thanksgiving in its own unique way.

Yes, there may have also been the feelings of; “I wish I visited more” or “I wish I said I love you more …” but if those feelings arose for anyone there, I believe they represented the love and care that, in one way or the other, was present in the relationships they shared with their loved ones.

Life is fragile and life can be sucked away from us at any time. That reality is never more present than in the newly grieved. That was evident that night in the parents who recently buried their still born babies, in the young widow whose husband died suddenly, in the little girls who, together, carried a candle for their “papa,” and for the many others.

The reality and reminder of the fragility of life, especially during the month of November, can allow me/us to reexamine the relationships we share with one another. It can allow us to take some time to make a phone call, send a card, or write an email to those persons in our lives that we love and care about. One never knows the impact that a phone call, card, or email may have on someone at any given time.

Relationships can easily be taken for granted until the day comes when we physically don’t have them anymore. Why wait?

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Sister Regina Gallo

Sister Regina Gallo has been a Sister of Providence since 2001. Sister Regina has ministered as a Bereavement counselor in the Elmwood Park, Illinois, area. She is currently studying for an advanced degree.

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