In honor of Mary's passing, I am posting an email I sent in May of 2010. I learned this week that Mary has indeed passed. For the past several months she had been bedridden, and I would visit her in her room. Last month I was told she was in the hospital, so I really did not expect to see her again. However, when I entered the convalescent hospital a few days ago and asked about her, the very shy activities assistant replied, "I think she is in another hospital," and looked away. I was puzzled. How many hospitals does a 99 year old body need? After worship I gently pressed for more information. He replied, "Well, we are really not supposed to talk about it except to a family member, but I know you were a friend of hers. She passed away." I felt very sad. Not for Mary, for I could feel her dancing in the heavens. I feel sorry for a society that so fears the full cycle of life that includes questions, grief, passings, and sorrows. Recognizing that the assistant was trying his best to do the job as presented to him, I touched his arm and said, "Thank you for telling me. We grow close to those we serve, don't we?" He nodded his head and we hugged.
Your presence was, and always will be, a gift to me. You once said you would put in a good word for me with Jesus. Would you kindly ask him to continue to walk with me as I discern how to best to serve this home? Thank you. And, oh, yes, please keep singing. Sometimes I need the company.
Mary tells me that she is close to 100 years old. She now lives in a convalescent hospital where she sits with her large print Bible. She does not sing out loud much anymore, but she expresses much gratitude that we gather for worship. She is still able to take communion. I think Mary has been coming to the table for a very long time.
Every month, she takes my hand and tells me that if she is not at the hospital the next month, I should not be sad because I will know that she has gone home to her Lord. She is one who seems to have achieved a wonderful balance between accepting her life today, and having confidence in the life of tomorrow. In her I sense no fear.
This week she told me that she will always sing with me. I am grateful. There are probably many Mary's with us. We may not consciously hear their songs and prayers, but that may be because we have not yet learned to listen. There is indeed music in the air. Let us lean our ear and rejoice that we do not sing alone.
Their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear that music ringing.
It finds an echo in my soul,
How can I keep from singing?