Many times, I have left things unsaid, but this time, I haven’t. My Tia Rosie is dying of lung cancer, and we’re not sure how much time she has left. I was initially going to write it out and send it, but I wasn’t sure it would get there in time. I want her to hear everything that I wanted to say. Here’s what I wrote:
Dear Tia Rosie,
There’s so much that I want to tell you, and so little time for me to do it. I know that the last thing you would want is for me to cry, but I can’t help it. I’m crying because you are leaving so many of us behind. Saint Therese wrote “If it is hard to give to whoever asks, it is still harder to let what belongs to us to be taken, without asking it back, or rather, I ought to say it seems hard; for the yoke of the Lord is sweet and light (Cf. Matthew 11:30): when we accept it we feel its sweetness immediately” (Story of A Soul, Chapter IX).
Even before I met you, you were a huge part of my life. My daddy would talk about you a lot. Not only have you been my Tia, you have been a little bit of the grandma I never had, and a bit of a mother to me. The very fact that you told me you were worried about me after my daddy died, and how you were excited that I was actually coming out to the Bay Area shows me that you really care for and about me. And I thank you for that. Especially since that was during a time of my life when I was trying to figure things out, as well as get to know my daddy’s family a little better. Thank you for helping me do that.
I think the day that I first met you (and Uncle Jim, too!) will be one that I always remember. I took BART out to Oakland and went to Christ the Light Cathedral, which is where we met. At the time, I didn’t know many of my relatives on my dad’s side of the family. But as soon as I met you, I felt like I’d known you my entire life. That day is a gift and a blessing that I will hold in my heart. The next day, I believe, when I came out to San Leandro, and came to your house was also a blessing. I remember seeing Crabby Abby, and the first words that came out of my mouth were,“That’s Satan” and you laughed. I also remember going out to dinner with you in San Leandro (I think), and talking about college and religious orders. You introduced me to a few people that you knew. You also told me that you were thinking about retiring, which made me laugh, because you were already retired, but working in parish ministry. Which is so admirable. I hope to give back like that one day. That was a wonderful evening. Afterwards, I just happened to be near St. Leander’s, and I attended Mass there. It was a great way to end my week in the Bay Area, and it was made even better by the fact that I was able to spend time with you.
Tia Rosie, you are my Catholic nerd buddy. You understand why I think Theology is so amazing. There also aren’t very many people out there who care about how Harry Potter and theology coincide. When I chose my major, long before I decided where to go, you kept pushing me to go to Santa Clara. The number of times I heard that I could major in Theology and minor in Philosophy right there in Berkley is more than I can count. Upon hearing that I didn’t apply because I thought I wouldn’t get into SCU, you said that I would have gotten in if you could help it…you were the Dean of the Jesuit School of Theology there. Which makes me smile every time I think about that. You believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself, which is a beautiful thing.
The fact that your cancer is no longer treatable just breaks my heart. Many people might be asking God “Why her, why now?” but I know why. God gave you a purpose; a vocation, and you have lived it out. You’ve touched countless lives. Now, He’s saying that it’s your time to go to Heaven because you have done what He has asked of you. We all have a calling to sainthood, and you are now going to become a saint. Danielle told me that you are comfortable and are not afraid of what awaits you. Theology answers the questions about what lies ahead, even if it’s in the most vague ways. It can be infuriating to some, but to people like us, it is a comforting thing, although we might not understand it. When I was praying last night, I asked God what I could do for you. The answer lies in Theology. Just as it always does. So from now on, everything I do in Theology class will be for you, and I will ensure that it is done well. If I write something and have it published, it will be for you.
I will pray the rosary for you tonight, and I will be focusing on the Luminous Mysteries, because we could always use a little bit of light, and I will be praying that God lights your path on this journey. I wish I could do more, and I wish I could be there. But God has me where I am for a reason. God wants me to learn how to love deeply and to let my big heart grow more and more. So, as I start preparing to go back to school, know that from 2000 miles away, there is love coming your way.
I love you, always.