There is one sure thing we are guaranteed in this life, that eventually our life will end. Yet we walk this earth ignoring the inevitable will happen, daily trying to outlast death through achievements, records, children, prayer, anything that will keep us alive once we are gone.
The other thing we are guaranteed in this life is that our hearts will eventually break into a million pieces if we have loved well.
My heart broke open this morning upon receipt of a single text telling me that our beloved priest, Father Bob Binta, died. We’ve known his death was coming. Memento mori. We’ve known since he was diagnosed almost two years ago with cancer. He fought well with the help of doctors, hope, and prayer, remaining strong despite treatments and disease, but we’ve known. Memento mori. We’ve known for the last week, when, once again, we found that his cancer had spread even further. Cancer settled into his stomach and would not leave. Memento mori.
I knew when I held his hand on his last full day of life, gifted with one final chance to tell him how much I loved him. He already knew, because we had been living memento mori for the last two years, but it was good to tell him one more time.
Today, after I heard the news, I finished my coffee and got ready for work. I told my kids, hugging them hard, and then sent them off to school. I thought I would be fine. I thought I was prepared. Memento mori, right?
On my drive to work, I listened to Ave Maria by Leslie Odom, Jr. on repeat, thinking about Fr. Bob and his love for the Rosary. As I parked, I found myself crying uncontrollably. I watched the students as they gathered before school, wondering if they knew yet, some of them from Fr. Bob’s parish and school. Breathe. Deep breaths. Breathe. The students would need me today.
My tears kept flowing and I couldn’t bring myself to open the car door.
God calls us to pray without ceasing.
I think, in initial grief, tears are the prayer we can offer.
I was surprised at how useless I had become. I thought I was ready. I thought I could help. Yet I couldn’t exit the car. Later, I’ll be present for the students at the school as we gather to say a Rosary together. Grieving with people who loved as you loved is a beautiful thing and so we gather to pray in our pain. We’ll pray, tears will fall. Prayer without ceasing.
I think there is one more thing we are guaranteed in this life.
If we love God and we love others with our whole hearts, we will live on.
We will be with our Father in heaven, and the love we’ve shared with others will remain within the hearts of those we’ve left behind. Life everlasting.
We’ll miss you, Father Bob.
Pray for us.