Thursday, March 3, 2011

Who Will Pray?

Tomorrow I am going to the funeral of a co-worker's father.  And I used to work with her mother as well.  So, I have been acquainted with the deceased for almost 17 years.  It is terribly sad, he suffered a stroke and 2 weeks later was dead.  The funeral is at a funeral home.  The reception is at the Elks Club.

I know these folks used to be Catholic.  I am sad to see that there is no church funeral.  I don't know why there isn't.  And I have no right to judge.  So, I won't.  But I will pray.  I worry about people who have no one to pray for them once they have left this world.

Last summer my daughter and I took a car trip to San Antonio and North Padre Island, Texas.  We had a wonderful time.  We were gone for over a week.  On the way home, we had an experience neither of us will ever forget.

We left Amarillo early in the morning so that we could get through the I-25 corridor in Colorado before evening rush hour.  We ate fast food for lunch so that we would not lose any time.  We were laser focused on getting home in the least amount of time possible, and we were successful - by 2 p.m., we were only an hour from home.

And then traffic came to a complete and total stop.  We crept along at 2 or 5 mph occasionally.  We saw a sign that said that I-25 was shut down a few miles ahead.  It was a hot July afternoon, over 90º.  We turned off the AC and rolled down the windows.   I checked my iPhone for news about what was going on.  The local news called it a "traffic incident" which I thought was odd.

After about an hour being stuck in traffic, we were diverted off the highway.  I needed gas, and my daughter needed some things from the grocery store, so we stopped.  At the grocery store, my daughter and I both used the rest room. While there, we were chatting - I told her "we should be praying for the people who were in that accident instead of bitching about the traffic." My daughter agreed and said that she had been praying. 

When I exited the stall, there was a beautiful young girl standing there. She said to me: "That was my mom who died."

Oh no! I cried, she cried, I wrapped my arms around her and asked her if she was OK. I asked if she was in the car with her mom. Then she told me her mother wasn't in a car.... she jumped off the overpass onto the interstate highway. Oh dear Lord. My daughter then asked her how old she is - she is 13. I asked if she was alone. Her dad was out in the car waiting for her. He stopped there so that she could use the restroom. My daughter was hugging her and crying with her. We asked her name. I asked her mother's name. I told her I would pray for them both. It was one of the most intense experiences I have ever had.

After she left and we got into the car, there was a part of me that hoped that maybe she was some little girl who made up a big story. In my heart I knew she wasn't, but I wanted to believe that she is not a little girl whose mother just threw herself 25 feet off an overpass into 75 mile per hour traffic. Not a little girl who no longer has a mom. Not a little girl devastated. The rest of our trip was virtually silent - and very somber.

When I got home I checked the news - and sure enough, a woman parked her truck along the side of the road that afternoon. She left a suicide note in it and jumped into traffic. A tour bus hit her. The interstate highway was closed for an hour and a half. And a beautiful little girl will have to pick up the pieces for the rest of her life.

The next morning, I had coffee with some friends and told this story.  One of my friends was silent and I thought perhaps I had offended him.  Later that afternoon, he called me and asked me if I wanted to know "the rest of the story."  He was a friend of that family.  The woman who jumped was someone he knew from college.  He knew the daughter and her father.  He verified all that I already knew and told me more I didn't.

They were atheists.  The woman was an alcoholic who just could not get sober.  My friend felt that God had put us there for little Sara that day, just so she could see some kind people who were freely talking about God and prayer.  

I know that my daughter and I both felt touched by the Holy Spirit on this day.  I hope we did what we were supposed to do.  

My friend tells me that Sara still talks about my daughter.  I hope she remembers that we told her we would pray for her and her mother.  And I hope I never forget to pray for both of them, but particularly her mother.  

Who prays for all of these people?  


  1. You could always have a Mass said for someone you were concerned about?

    How wonderful, the story about the little girl and the comfort you and your daughter were able to give. That's a 'Godcidence' of which I have been blessed with many, over the years. God certainly wants to impact with people's pain, whenever he is able to, through the words and hands of his children. As a priest said to me once, your face may be the only bible some people ever read! I didn't understand but he just smiled at me, I think he meant a loving glance or smile to a suffering soul can restore a flicker of hope for some souls.
    I tend to say 'God bless' if someone sneezes in a supermarket for example, just to let them know they're there and God cares, so to speak!

  2. After I complete the rosary I have a list of people to pray for that can get quite long, people I really know/knew. Then there are the intentions for non specific people along the lines of 1) the living section of prayers "priests, missionaries, friends, family, co-workers, all those suffering from war,disease, disaster or despair. .. those that have no one to pray for them" and the 2)dead section "died from war . . ." I include the generic Facebook/Bloggers for those I don't have specifics on. Then if an emergency vehicle passes say a quick Hail Mary for the people involved. Good thing the morning commute is long!

  3. Thank you for taking the time to share that story! My goodness, I am shook up just reading it, I can only imagine how it has affected your life. I will most certainly keep that family in my prayers. That poor girl and how blessed of a moment that you were able to hold her and pray for her! How many people would do that? Thank you for your tender heart and obedience to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

  4. God has us exactly where He wants us, and that day, His place for you was the ladies room to be overheard by that poor child. Rest assured that you and your daughter planted a seed in her grieving heart that day because God wanted it to be so, for you and your daughter as well as the daughter who lost her mother in an unspeakable way. Possibly, you and your dear daughter are the only people who prayed for the deceased. What a gift, for such good to come out of such horror. Thank you for sharing.

  5. That is so sad. If I feel stunned by the story, I can imagine how you and your daughter must have felt then and there. Prayers for Sara, and may she be touched by the Holy Spirit to share in God's love.

  6. Thanks everyone.

    And an update on the service I attended yesterday. There was a Catholic deacon officiating, so there were prayers and readings from the Bible. I was so glad to see that.

    But it makes it clear to me that I need to write up my wishes for my kids. PLEASE, a funeral mass - and no "In the Arms of the Angels."