Patti. Oh Patti.

At the beginning of September my friend Patti facebook messaged me...

Hi Rachel, so the reality is, the cancer is out of control. It has spread aggressively, and they are concerned it might be in my bone marrow. I was hospitalized last Tuesday to Thursday. . .Lots of medical talk... I could be looking at several weeks to a couple of months.
my husband, my sister, and my bff and I started talking about memorial services. We will do a mass at my dad's parish, It is very important to my dad.

But I'd want it to be a "small, private service" (knowing any one can come), because then I want a bigger party-like atmosphere in a larger, more memorial- type gathering. People could come to both, but the memorial would be the bigger focus. Does that make sense?
I think we talked about this a long time ago, but would you be able, and/or willing to be the "celebrant", or whatever the correct word is? Of course, the tricky thing is date... duh, we don't know when.

So that's where things stand right now. Pretty much sucks. . .. (lots of catching up about family and stuff details)

Thanks for listening, Rachel. I miss you, our picnics together, and all our long chats. I love you!!!
. . .

Of course I said that I would be the celebrant (presider) at her memorial service. And so we met, talked about all the details. After she died, 3 weeks later, I met with her sister, her husband and we planned out all the details.

I have been honored to be a minister to/with this family.
I have been honored by Patti that she trusted me enough to do this.
Profound honor.

Last week her Husband asked me to speak at the mass.
This is what I offered.

In the times I sat with Patti after her diagnoses she faced her own mortality with tremendous dignity.  She let people be with her, and though she was hopeful she was honest about not expecting a miracle.

God is rarely a God of miracles.  And more certainly God is a God of accompaniment.
In preparing these words I have spent a lot of time thinking about accompaniment and also, of course thinking about Patti.  
And the more and more I asked myself the question, “how is God with us in our grief and suffering…”
I found the answer was in Patti.

In my friendship with Patti I encountered a well of kindness, deep enough I never saw the bottom.
I met a person who sometimes pushed me in places I needed grow and learn but assured me I was also that I was okay as I was.
I knew a person who was generous with her time, her things, her baked goods.
I met a person who was willing to know me and in deep and meaningful ways.

Thinking about how Patti befriended me, has in a powerful way shown me how it is that God befriends me(and us)  in my(and our) own life and pain(s).  

I hope, that those who are closest to Patti will, in the days, months and years ahead  find a God who will accompany them in their grief- I Hope they find a God who shows up, who is generous, who they feel known by, who pushes them to grow
I am not talking about God just in church or just in the bible or just on that cross.

I am talking about the ways that God accompanies us in friendship, in a meal you needed, in a good therapist, or a startling view of the mountains.  

I am talking about god accompanying you in the way that memories may someday bring about more joy than pain...and that over time (perhaps a long long time) the pain of our grief becomes the wisdom by which we are able to be with others.  These are the ways Patti accompanied many of us- a cupcake, a good conversation, a note we didn’t expect, or actually remembering a birthday.  In the ordinary moments of life she reminded us that we mattered.

In the gospel today, one that Patti chose for her own funeral mass, Jesus preaches to the people, “Blessed are those who weep and mourn for they shall be comforted.”
There may be days ahead when we will cry out “When God, when will we be comforted?! That’s what I want to know because this sucks!  And Blessed- - - -blessed are those who weep and mourn- take me off the blessed list and give me my friend, or sister, partner, mother, daughter back.”

I think God can handle that.  

I also think that this statement is a profound reminder that this grief, this weeping this mourning matters. It matters that our sadness is reflection of the love we have for Patti.  It matters to God. It matters.  Blessedness doesn’t feel like a blessing.  ….

Maybe believing in our own blessedness is the first way that God (and Patti) says to us, “I am here. I will accompany you in this.”


  1. Aaaah. Thank you for sharing this.



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