My entire life my mother has been an unfailing support to me. These past few months have been no exception. In fact, my mom has shone even brighter. She carried the extra weight of worrying about Philomena and me. As I was writing her Mother’s Day card, I couldn’t help but reflect on our time caring for Philomena in the hospital. Constant updates, text messages and phone calls about what was going on. If I wasn’t there, I was always checking in with Mom on how she was doing. When she wasn’t there, she was checking in with me. We may not have always been at the hospital in person, but we never really left.
What is a mother’s love? What can it accomplish? It is a thing of glory, full of laughter and joy. It gives strength when you don’t feel you have anything more to give. It is selfless and all consuming. It puts your feet on the ground in the middle of the night. It forgives, encourages and embraces. It can also at times be painful and seem impossible to bear. A mother’s love is a reflection of Christ’s love for us.
This love for Philomena gave us the endurance to spend the greater part of each day for 10 weeks in the hospital with her. This love gave us the courage to suffer helplessly next to her on so many occasions. This love gave us the strength to to stand hours without end by her bed and hold her little hand and stroke her head when she was not well enough to be held. This love allowed us to rock her until we could no longer feel our back side when we could hold her. This love gave us the energy for many, many sleepless nights. This incredible love is what made the time spent in the hospital with her possible. This love is what makes losing her bearable.
God is continually calling us to greater holiness. The path to holiness is through imitation of his perfect, selfless love. God began these lessons through the gift of my mother who first taught me what love is. God continued these throughout my life. The lessons with Philomena broke my heart wide open. These lessons were and are painful but efficacious. They have taught me the power of love to carry you through the valley of death. This love reminds me that death is not the end of my love for Philomena, but merely another chapter.
This is where the world gets love all wrong. Love is not always about warm fuzzy feelings, Valentine’s, roses and carefree evenings. Love is about laying yourself down for others until it hurts and you think you cannot go on. Somehow, in those moments, Christ’s love carries you through.
Christ loves each of us with this love. A love I can only begin to comprehend through my experiences. Jesus commanded that we love one another. A love whose foundation is self-sacrifice and seeks what is best for the other. I pray for the grace to be an example of this love for my children as my mother has been for me.
Thank you God for the gift of my little Saint Philomena. Thank you for the gift of my mother who first taught me what it is to love. Thank you for continuing to teach me to love more as You love.