“I am sharing this testimony with my Dominican brothers and sisters, in union with them in this Chain of Preachers of Hope.” A contribution from Spain.
On the ninth of July this year my mother died. Three days earlier, on the sixth, my husband Santiago died; we had been separated for about twelve years. My son and I had said goodbye to them and our personal life had been disturbed because of our grief. But in the last goodbye we both experienced wonderful things.
Accompanying the slow death of my mother over many years was a gift, like everything that comes from the Lord. Caring for older people allows us to love them in a different way: you expect no response, no recompense, nor the positive result of recovery. Taking care of her allowed me to enter into communion of life: touching her body, washing and cleaning her wounds. Touching, we are touched, and the dialogue of touch raises us to unimagined depths of acceptance and gratitude without the need for words.
My husband Santiago’s life was devoured by a tumour which ended his life in a matter of months. I know that he received the light that brought peace to his spirit, he said goodbye to people and left in reconciliation, even with me. His sad farewell was a re-encounter for me: intense emotions, communion in the sincere grief that we all felt at his death. Deep sadness accompanied appropriately by the thick fog of the countryside in the vicinity of the city of Vigo. Santiago had the wisdom of children who live life as a gift and make the most in every minute of this wholly undeserved present as appreciated. He misunderstood my fear, that dismally pensive way of contemplating a troubled future which embittered him without weapons to confront it. May God forgive me, and now that he understands everything, may he forgive me too.
On our return to Galicia, early on Sunday morning, my son and I headed for my mother’s home. She was still breathing. Kissing her, I thanked her for waiting for me, as I had asked her to do before I left. I was terribly tired after so many hours of driving and somewhat afflicted with emotions and nostalgia. We had arrived at two in the morning and at about six, she died. I had felt that she would, and I had got out of bed to go to her side. Everyone was asleep and I stayed beside her, grieving and thankful. It was a moment of intimacy that prolonged all we had shared in the last few years.
I wrapped my mother in a shroud as she and I wanted, in a linen sheet and a lace handkerchief made by the skilful hands of Sister Trinidad, a Dominican of the convent of St Anne of Murcia, the town where she lived. The lace handkerchief covered her face without hiding it completely. In her hands, between her clasped fingers, was a very old cross of wood and mother of pearl, a little damaged but still precious. I told them to take the Christ from the crucifix that was on the cover. It was Sunday, the day we celebrate the resurrection of Christ and his victory over death: I wanted the empty cross on the coffin and a stem of white roses that symbolised our hope.
Br Carlos presided at the Mass. He has become a grumpy grandfather who moans about everything. Honestly, his manners didn’t trouble me, because in the mortuary chapel occurs the realisation of the mystery that gives us the strength to maintain our trust in the promises of Christ.
The burial was beautiful. They sealed the coffin in which my mother’s body lay and with sprays of white flowers we covered the niche without a tombstone and the part of the cemetery where she lies. We prayed an Our Father thanking God for her long life – she died at the age of ninety-two – and a Salve to the Virgin of Perpetual Succour, the icon venerated by the Redemptorists with such devotion. She was certainly her best companion in the last of the scenes of her life in this world. We left her, trustfully, in the Virgin’s maternal arms, singing the song that she babbled on her last birthday: “Amapola”.
My son Pablo and I returned to Galicia near Murcia comforted and accompanied by a full moon that lit our way back towards a new resurrection and a new life.
Micaela Bunes, OP
Lay Fraternity of St Dominic of Murcia (Spain)
Read this article in Spanish : Acompañar la vida.
Each Province/Vicariate is invited to share their stories and/or pictures with a neighbouring Province/Vicariate, if possible with a meeting. That Province/Vicariate invites the next Province/Vicariate, etc. For the Chain there is a route with a time table, which can be used. If every Province/Vicariate also sends their stories and pictures to the ECLDF website, we will, in this way, create a real chain of preachers of hope throughout Europe until the next Assembly in October 2017 in Fatima.
Here you will find the announcement of the Chain and also an overview of all the contributions.