A month before writing to say a final goodbye, my friend Carrie called to ask me for a friend’s address. She had a baby gift to send the new mother.
It was vintage Carrie. In the midst of everything, she was still thinking of ways to share in and bring joy to others. And when I say “everything,” I mean in the midst of cancer treatments, doctor appointments, pain management, and taking care of her family.
No matter how dark things got or how much pain she was in, Carrie’s messages always included praise and thanksgiving for the God who gave her two amazing children—after medical experts told her in no uncertain terms that she would never have any. She called them her “miracle babies.”
When I hear people talk about fighting cancer, it is always Carrie who comes to mind. She fought that battle with all her might, all the way until the end. If that meant painful procedures that may or may not offer cure, but instead offered a way to extend her time on earth being present to her family, Carrie always said yes.
Carrie believed in and relied on the power of prayer. Not in the sense of telling God what to do, but always with a powerful balance: her complete trust in God’s Divine Providence—and a healthy dose of petitions straight from her humble mother heart.
Her prayers of petition were always grounded on her family. Carrie had no problem reminding God that she had to stick around longer because her son and daughter were simply too young to be without a mother.
I will never forget Carrie describing the gift of her scars… the marks on her body, she explained, was her road map, “a map I hope leads me to eternal life!”
In reality, Carrie and her scars were, and continue to be, a light post leading all of us to heaven. And I have no doubt that her suffering prayers on behalf of others carried many a painful journey, always reminding us of the ways God has already begun answering our prayers.
A week before her death Carrie wrote, once again, asking for prayers—always first for her family, and this time, for a holy death.
They are the most beautiful, loving, joyful children in the world, and
their own mother had to pierce their hearts. Above all else, I ask that
you pray for my Matteo and Francesca. Stefano is also devastated, of
course. My prayer is that the end will be peaceful and not panicked… If possible, I'd like to die at St. Francis of Assisi Hospital in Evanston. My children were born there, half the staff knows me, and I have felt that Francis was always with me in a special way--I was baptized by the Franciscans, wrote a book for a Franciscan, my spiritual director was a Franciscan, I was married at San Damiano in Assisi, and had my children at St. Francis. I just think it would help to present a sense of peace for my children. I don't know if they would ever be able to handle mommy dying at home.
As the bilirubin on the liver function rises, I'm told my brain will
begin to get fuzzy. As funny as it might be to get emails from me in
that state, I think this is the time to say goodbye.
I thank you all for you the support we've shared, for allowing the occasional vent, for the encouragement, for the beautiful published works that have come out of sifting ideas, and for your friendship.
Thank you, and I love you,
|Carrie and Francesca rough housing with my first grandchild, Elenita|