It was close to 4 o’clock in the afternoon when my cell phone began to ring. “Hi hun”, it was mom, “where are you right now, your dad has been passing an awful lot of blood. He is lying down now but I’d like you to drive us down to the VA emergency hospital.”.... He had been there the previous day for the same reason, but once things had gotten under control he had been released to go home.
“I’m about thirty minutes out mom, I will come straight over, try not to worry”, was the silly thing I said to her. I called my husband to meet me at their house; I took my rosary bracelet off my wrist and immediately began to pray. “Please Blessed Mother, ask your Son to be with them both right now and to let me be the peaceful presence they will need.”
Though both my parents try to hide their fears, the stress that they have been enduring is taking a huge toll; it is an invisible weight that can’t be seen with the eye, yet its enormity fills the room. Cancer is a horrible thing and it is something that has been a part of their lives for many years now.
The admitting nurse remembered dad from the day before and quickly got him into a hospital bed where he waited for the doctor for well over three hours. During that period of time, we were required to hangout in a small waiting room with the dozens of other people that had been there before us. It was clear to see that many of these people were wounded veterans that had answered their call to duty and it was equally clear to see that for these brave soldiers, the battles continue, their suffering goes on.
As each one of them waited for their turn to be seen by the emergency room doctor, I thought of the souls in purgatory. I thought of how they spent their time of purification, waiting for the prayers of loved ones here on earth to intercede for them as they waited to see the Lord. I realized that I needed to spend more time praying for these souls than I actually do.
“Human suffering evokes compassion; it also evokes respect, an in its own way it intimidates. For in suffering is contained the greatness of specific mystery….man in his suffering, remains an intangible mystery.” John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris
Our dear Pope John Paul II knew what it meant to suffer, he was a true Christian soldier, a friend of the cross that bravely answered his call to duty. He referred to human suffering as redemptive suffering, a term that the world wants no part of.
Yet, it was the suffering Christ that moved the heart of the criminal during the hours of the crucifixion "this man has done nothing wrong." Then, turning to Jesus, he asks, "Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom" (Luke 23:42). What wonderful faith this repentant sinner had in Jesus.
I remember dad telling me how he cried out to God and asked Him take this suffering, this cancer from him. And I remember him telling me that if God’s answer was no, that he would offer it up for the conversion of others. This is something he has done and continues to do everyday. He too is a soldier for Christ, he has bravely answered his call to duty.
I only hope to be as brave as those I follow after.....And I thank God for the suffering they endure for me and the whole world.