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a forever love

a forever love, Gerard A. DeBiasi: 1941-1914

by Andrea
December 16, 2014

In my last post, giving and receiving, I shared an experience I had while visiting my brother-in-law in the hospital—an experience where giving and receiving were perceived as one inseparable whole, not two separate parts. There was no longer a distinction between the giver and the receiver. It was a moment of pure love, and in that pure love, time disappeared. It was like a window into a forever love—an eternal love that is always there, even if not always seen or felt or perceived in any given moment. 

Since that time, this world lost a most beautiful, kind man. My brother-in-law, Gerry, passed away while surrounded by his wife (my sister) and their children (and their spouses), who were holding vigil by his side for the previous 24+ hours. I was there when he passed away as well, and will remain forever grateful that he allowed all of us be with him when he took his last breath. Those final days in the hospital were heartbreakingly raw. The process of letting go of a loved one can break us and bring us to our knees like nothing else. Everyone who has been through this knows exactly what I mean. Nothing in this world comes close to it.

The next day, my sister reached out to many of us, wanting us to be a part of Gerry's funeral. She didn’t want to leave anyone out. In the midst of her own deep sadness and loss, she had the bigness of heart and presence mind to be thinking of everyone else, just as Gerry would have done. She asked me to do a reading at the service, and so as a tribute to my brother-in-law and his beautiful family, I want to share with you what I read that day:

"In the last few weeks I was able to spend time in the hospital with Pat and Gerry, Gerry, Lisa, Lori and their partners. What I experienced in that hospital room was a love indescribably immense and tender—an outpouring of pure, raw love that Gerry received from his family. This was hand in hand with the profound human sadness of losing a life partner, father and friend—the order of which is almost beyond our human capacity to endure. I want to share a reading that arrived in my inbox the morning after Gerry died. It came from the daily newsletter of Franciscan Priest, Father Richard Rohr. 

'The lifelong process of ripening brings about a corresponding ripening of our ability to understand the fundamentals in a wiser, peace-giving manner. For example, when people who believe in God go through painful experiences they are naturally troubled. They often feel, ‘If God watches over me, how could God let this happen to me?’ This is such an understandable response to suffering in the life of those who trust and believe in God’s providential care.

“However, as a person ripens in unsayable intimacies in God, they ripen in a paradoxical wisdom. They come to understand God as a presence that protects us from nothing, even as God unexplainably sustains us in all things. This is the Mystery of the Cross that reveals whatever it means that God watches over us; it does not mean that God prevents the tragic thing, the cruel thing, the unfair thing, from happening. Rather, it means that God is intimately hidden as a kind of profound, tender sweetness that flows and carries us along in the intimate depths of the tragic thing itself—and will continue to do so in every moment of our lives up to and through death, and beyond.' "

I wanted to read this that day, and also share it in this post today, to honor the love in this man's life, and also for my sister, her son and two daughters. Death can be so sad and difficult and confusing, it needs time and kindness to heal. But also because there is something eternal in that tender sweetness that remains in the midst of all our broken hearts. It is that forever love—a love that reaches out and takes our hand in silence, when nobody is there to see. But you.

Gerard Anthony DeBiasi
Nov 13, 1941 - Dec 6, 2014

 

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