January 23, 2016

Ms. Liz has two daughters, I am friends with one of them, Isabella…we grew up together.

Ms. Liz is a single mother, a public school teacher in South America where education is underpay but overworked.

Isabella and I lived on the same block where nothing really happens, always the same neighbors and at least one or two funerals a year.  From the 365 days of our year 300 days were pretty much the same as every other day, but at least we got 5 days we knew might be different from anything else: New Years, Christmas, Easter Sunday, my birthday and Isabella’s birthday.

In Ecuador rain is serious, it rains with passion especially during the summer. I wish you knew how serious I am when I say “it rains with passion”, because you would feel sorry about the poor clouds working overtime. I really miss the never ending afternoons of never-ending water falling and falling without contemplation. 

Isabella, my brother and I used to come out and play all the time when it was raining, we enjoyed rainy days to the point we would play “car wash” and “wash” every possible car parked around our block. 

I have to admit that I can’t stand frogs because they look disgusting (and feel disgusting), and they would come out to play and enjoy the rain with us, it was just not in my control so I let it happen. This never took away from the joyful moments I experienced as a kid,  just like some things we can’t control in our life should never take away from the joyful moments we experience…no frog, no sorrow should take away our joy.

We could have stayed and play in the rain forever, but Ms. Liz would always announced through her windows that play time was over: “Isabella, Isabella…Isabella” She would scream out the window three times and we already knew fun was over.

This reflection is not about my childhood memories, is about death.

Ms. Liz passed away this week.

She had two daughters, she was a single mother, and she was a teacher. While I lived in Ecuador I witnessed her sacrifice and the passion which she raised her daughters with. She lived in small poor house on the last corner of our block that with her sacrifice over the years became a well-built home because she built it on love. My grandmother Ms. Liz and a few other ladies from the block used to get together and pray the rosary on Wednesday nights, which at the time I disliked as much as I dislike frogs, but thanks to this I am the man that I am today.

The irony of life is that Isabella graduated as a teacher last week, she finally got her degree, what her mother worked hard for. 

 Isabella expressed through her Facebook page the joy she was experience because of having completed one of her goals thanks to her mother’s sacrifice. I would say it was a joy just like the one we experienced when playing in the rain as kids, a joy not even frogs can take away…. But how about death?  Can death take away our joy?

As I reflect on this events, all I come up with is the obvious truth we sometimes fail to remember: we need to love more. We need to love as much as we can, we need to love so that when death comes we would be satisfied that our love would never die because it comes from God, thus it will be eternal.

Look around! And love those around you, appreciate the gift of family and friends because each one of them would have to leave this earth at some point, at the indicated time by our Lord…we don’t know when or where, it could be soon or years from now. I have to admit this idea fills my heart with fear, because the pain of losing a loved one is almost unbearable, but no pain can't  be overcome through the cross.

Brother and sisters, love every minute like you will never love again, with actions, with words, with smiles, with fraternal correction. Love with the same passion it rains in Ecuador during the summer. Love like you would never die, so that your love won’t depend on the limits imposed by our sins, and our sins won’t limit our love. Love the way you want to be remembered in eternity, because that’s our identity and destiny.

I know that the same way I remember the rain and the frogs today, if we love with the passion only given through Christ our savior, maybe one day in heaven we would have a joyful memory of this life and know that death came out to play in the rain sometimes, just like those disgusting frogs, and even though we had no control over it, it didn’t touch our spirits.

Please pray for my friend “Isabella” and her family,             

And for Mercy on the soul of “Ms. Liz”.

St. Dominic,

Pray for us. 

Frassati NY