Easter Sunday 2017
April 16, 2017
The Year Mom Died
Bonnie A. Perry
Come Holy Spirit and Fill us with you Love.
In your blessed name we pray. Amen.
As many of you know, my mom Mary, Mary Jane Perry died suddenly 24 days ago. And three days, three days after she was buried, my dad and I went to see her grave. We went to visit that place where we had last seen her earthly remains. We went to her grave, to see, as you do, when someone is newly dead; An act of closure, maybe, or the dawning of a different reality. Whatever. It was a beautiful Spring day, much like yesterday. Although her plot was raw and fresh, her neighbors were all settled in and looked to be nice enough sorts. There’s Anne Brooks down and to the left, Staff Sergeant Carlos Lambiosa, United States Army, and Lt. Col Richard E. Brown, United States Marine Corps off to the right. It’s a real po porrui at the Quantico National Cemetary, all of those head stones lined up like a good brigade at parade rest. It’s a cross section of America, is that cemetery, as is the world of military families.
Three days after we buried her, Dad and I went to her grave, more to say, “Hello” than “Goodbye.” Mary Magdalene on the other hand, went, three days later, to Jesus’ tomb to say goodbye. She went, maybe to anoint him, to touch his cold hard dead body and most certainly she went to cry, to cry in close proximity of what she had known, and begin to let go of all she would not do.
When she arrives, as it is still dark, the stone, the incredibly large stone has been rolled. She can see that this too is not as it should be.
Then when she could not find his body, her question becomes, “What the hell—where did they take him?”
This pain of loss and absence is not one she can stand alone. She runs to Peter and John. John who had been at the cross, and Peter who had been long gone.
And they went with haste, Peter and John in a footrace, Mary behind. They arrive, John and Peter—make their way into the tomb—allow their eyes to adjust to the light and to the emptiness. The linen wrappings, dropped in heaps on the floor.
And first John and then Peter, they know something has gone on, but they leave. Because sometimes the intimacy of something new being born, is just to much. So they the rock and the beloved one, go home.
But Mary stays outside the tomb and weeps and mourns. For now it seems there is nothing. How long she stood there as the sun came over the horizon, who knows, those moments of despair go on and on and on.
Then she bends down, looks another time, in the tomb, at the end of her beginning. This time she sees two messengers of God, angels is the Greek word sitting where the Lord had been. They ask: “Woman, why are you weeping?” She replies, “They have taken my Lord and I do not know where they have laid him.” Then turning away, because her tolerance of questions, has dissolved.
She sees a man, whom she presumes to be the gardener, the one who cares for the tombs, spending his life a living man among the dead, he too asks her, “Woman why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?”
Enough enough this has to end. I’ve had it with your questions. Where have you taken him, tell me, and I will take him away. If only to have this done and have what’s left of him safe. Then then he who is the living one, among the dead, he says, “Mary.” Her name. Her name said. Her name held. Her name sprinkled on the blisters of her grief. Her name, “Mary.” She knows. She knows, she feels, she sees, the one who ages ago, invited her to go beyond what she had ever known. “Mary.” It begins now. The end is over. The tomb is empty.
As my dad sat in the hospital room, with my mom’s cooling hand in his, a catholic priest came by. My father asked him as he was leaving the room. “One last thing Father, please tell me if there is a heaven, because I have to know that I will someday see her again.”
I will tell him, what that catholic priest did not:
That doubt is fine, Emptiness is understandable, and grief is wrenching, But Death is not the answer, Pain does not remain And life, with our last breath, life is not over. And yes Ray, you will see her again. For the existence of something more lies not in our minds’ subjective ability to believe, but rather in the objective reality that on that day, the tomb was empty, his body was gone, the Gardener was Jesus, and he called Mary by her name. So it was for her, so it will be for us, “Mary.” “Mary.”
Resurrection means, there is always something more. So even at the grave we make our song, “Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia.” Christ is Risen, The Lord is Risen indeed. Alleluia.