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Tending Your Soul
Sacred Encounters

Valentine Love ...

We were all busily occupied in biology lab 101 when a knock at the door interrupted our class procedures. Although I can’t recall specifics, I recall gathering my things and ending up in a car headed for a small hospital in downtown Cincinnati. I know I was silent and numb during the ride, trying to anticipate and prepare myself for what awaited me. The next memory I have is standing at the hospital’s information desk asking for a room number only to be told that my mother had just passed away. It seems a cruel way to receive such life-altering news, standing in the lobby of a hospital surrounded by strangers.

The doctors diagnosed mom early in the fall as having hepatitis and only changed it to liver cancer right before Christmas, giving her six months to live. Evidently her call to make that momentous transition came sooner than we expected, and, at the age of 55, she left us on Feb. 14 to become God’s valentine.

The funeral home visitation seemed endless and surreal. Trying to cope with a terribly painful reality, I circulate from the side of the casket to the very edge of the crowd where elementary and high school classmates and old boyfriends congregated in amazing numbers. I was truly shocked at the number of my peers who made it a point to come to the visitation, offering their support and sympathy. Those expressions of care and concern wove their way into my consciousness for weeks afterward, comforting and soothing my heart and soul.

Compassionate God, you truly softened my heart through the care expressed by so many people following Mom’s death. My amazement at the outpouring of love helped to reveal and heal years of unconscious “I can hand this myself” attitude. Waves of gratitude still surround and gently penetrate the painful memory of Feb. 14, 1963.

Reflection/Discussion:
What image, feeling, question or memory of yours surfaces as you read this story?

Have you ever stubbornly insisted on handling a situation alone, or resisted others’ attempts to offer help? What happened? Can those attitudes keep God at a distance too?