When I was baptized I was entered into a mystery, something larger than myself that has existed through the ages and whose membership I could never renounce. When I put it that way, it sounds a lot like family.
Luckily for me I have a family that I am proud to be a part of, that enriches my life, which is why on that day I was baptized many years ago it was family that surrounded me, prayed for me, and made promises on my behalf.
Born the 12th of what would be 16 first cousins, I had many older members of my generation leading the way, and the oldest of that generation, my cousin Deborah, became my godmother.
The dark shadow of love is the knowledge that we will one day say goodbye, and in a large family this shadow is deepened by knowing that having so many people to love will someday give you so many people to grieve. You half-expect the darkness, but we all believe that loss will come sometime in the lingering, beautiful twilight of life.
When Deborah died last week, it was nowhere near twilight. We lost her with the thunderclap of an aneurism followed by the low rumble of what we thought was recovery. That recovery ended in a flash when a second blood clot took her away.
There is something unique about losing a person who was in your life as long as you can remember. When it’s someone who ruffled your hair when you were a baby and sent you birthday cards your whole life and who loved you before you did anything to warrant being loved, the fabric is torn most obviously.
How can we ever mend such a tear?
Of course in the end, the answer comes back to love: love that has been so apparent in my life that it makes me believe in the ineffable; love that none of us earn but that has been lavished upon us; Love, the One Who gave us to each other in the first place.