Today my community and her family and friends celebrated the Mass of Resurrection for my friend and sister, Rita.  It was a lovely mass and nothing like the mass I would want for myself.  She was more traditional than I, and more formal.  Yet the celebration was so beautiful and the words that her good friends and family spoke about her and how they experienced the Gospel through her were so powerful and honest that I was drawn in and wrung out by it all.  I started weeping at the opening comments by our Prioress General who, in our custom, read Sister Rita’s handwritten vows before placing them in her hands to be buried with her.  And I wept throughout the entire celebration. 

I hadn’t brought tissue (though since I cry at commercials, you’d think I’d have learned by now!).  I’m growing, it seems, in my ability to weep without getting choked up or sobbing out loud.  But, by the end of the liturgy, I felt wrecked.  And it was good to feel wrecked.  I really loved Rita.  And I will deeply miss her.  She is the first sister in my community with whom I have lived who has died.  I am  also going through a hard time right now in caring for my ailing mother and preparing almost daily for her passing.  My Mom isn’t anywhere near Rita’s age; she’s not anywhere near Rita’s spiritual depth and growth; she’s not even very near to death; but she’s my mom and I love her even more deeply. 

Today and these daily reminders of death brought to mind a poem I heard Garrison Keillor read on the Writer’s Almanac Podcast.  Things, the poem says, shouldn’t be so hard.

 "Things Shouldn’t Be So Hard" by Kay Ryan from The Niagara River.
© Grove Press. (buy now)

Things Shouldn’t Be So Hard

A life should leave
deep tracks:
ruts where she
went out and back
to get the mail
or move the hose
around the yard;
where she used to
stand before the sink,
a worn-out place;
beneath her hand
the china knobs
rubbed down to
white pastilles;
the switch she
used to feel for
in the dark
almost erased.
Her things should
keep her marks.
The passage
of a life should show;
it should abrade.
And when life stops,
a certain space—
however small—
should be left scarred
by the grand and
damaging parade.
Things shouldn’t
be so hard.