Celebrating Death

This isn’t going to be an easy day — shoot, it’s not going to be an easy month!

November typically is the time when we Catholics honor/celebrate/remember our deceased loved ones, starting with All Saints Day on the first and then All Souls Day on the second. The idea is that, by recalling and praying for our faithful dead on Nov. 2, we acknowledge them as still being members of our Church, alive in Christ, and never far from our hearts.

In some countries (Mexico, for instance), Day of the Dead celebrations are joyful ones, with special foods and colorful altars. Other countries hold to the folk belief that souls are released from Purgatory for one day and allowed to return to earth; consequently, some families leave a window open or set a place at table for their dead family members. Still others visit graves, sometimes with picnics. You can read more here: www.fisheaters.com/customstimeafterpenticost12ac.html

Last year at this time, I sailed blissfully through this holiday. Death hadn’t touched my family — other than elderly grandparents and some distant relatives — and, while we attended the required Church services and recited the prayers, it was all more of a ritual than anything else. Not so today.

This past Dec. 31, we lost my dad after a courageous three-year battle with esophageal cancer. Yes, he smoked cigarettes; yes, he drank liquor; and yes, according to his doctor, those bad habits were what killed him.

So tonight, we’ll go to Church carrying a picture of Daddy that will be left on a memorial table for the entire month. We’ll participate in a candle-lighting ceremony, recite the prayers, shed some tears, and probably hug each other a bit longer and tighter. We’ll also try to be kinder and more patient with others.

It’s what Daddy would have wanted.