The worst part of my morning is the parting.
Indulge me, please, a moment. I know I come off as overly sentimental, but I cannot get enough time with my wife. This past Monday was taken up by hours of doctors visits, wandering from one office to another. But even all of that expanse of time was preferable to the next morning when we both had to head to our respective jobs.
Throughout the day we will talk or text about various things. Usually while whichever one of us is last to come home, we pray the rosary over the phone. And while I can't say that I am inconsolable when I'm not with her, there is a part of me that feels missing. Speaking through a phone or hitting a small screen with my thumbs helps, but it is not enough.
The best part of my day is usually the moment I hear the door open and she walks through. I feel like kid who has woken on Christmas morning. Because she's here.
But one day, there will be another parting. It is one that neither of us can avoid and it looms over us inevitably. One day, unless we both leave together, one of us will cross over the threshold to the undiscovered country leaving the other here alone. It is, to say the least, a most unpleasant thought.
I try not to think about it. But the older I get and the more trips I take to the doctor I awaken more and more to the reality that this coil really is mortal and will be shuffled off. The thought of living in a world without her is unbearable. And I think that way of all of my dear family and friends. I wrote back in January that a childhood friend with whom I had lost contact died. Even though I had not spoken to him in years, the concrete reality that I would not hear his voice again or shake his hand hit me profoundly. It is easy to take for granted those whom you can easily contact. It is difficult to shake the heavy shadow of the dead.
I believe that if, God forbid, I lose my wife then the Lord would see me through. I know that I will be tempted to despair. I know that I could surround myself with pictures of her or home movies so I could hear her voice. And there may come a day when I can feel her spirit with me. But it would be nothing compared to each night when I would put my arms around her.
And that is why today is important.
Today is August 15th, the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.
Mary lived one of the most authentically human lives, second only to her Son. She never fell into the spiritual cesspool of sin, so that its stench never touched her. And yet she suffered. After Jesus' birth, the prophet Simeon said to her, "And a sword shall pierce your heart." At the foot of the cross, she had to watch the love her life, her baby boy, be murdered by the people He was trying to save. And then he died. He rose. He flew off to Heaven.
He promised He would always be with us. Where two or more are gathered in His name, so too He is there. And He gave us the Eucharist, His substantial presence in our lives. And when we die, our souls will touch His divinity directly.
But it is not enough.
And we see that with Mary today. It is not enough that her soul, beautiful and pure as it is, be taken to the presence of the Lord. But the hands which held Him as a babe, the hands that lifted him when he fell, the hands that fed him, changed him, held him tight when he was scared... that these hands should be taken up to heaven to touch His hands again.
Mary, this day, reminds us that we are human. We are bodies as well as souls. Mary is the first one us creatures (as opposed to Christ the Creator) to experience the fulness of the Resurrection. She is not dead, but like her Son, she is alive, physically alive. She is not simply the spiritual remains of the Woman that once was. The Assumption is about the necessity of being fully human, body and soul, in the end. It is high-minded and pious to speak of our souls living in eternal light. But it is indelibly stamped into our bones that we want to embrace our loved ones again, not figuratively, but literally.
And today promises that literally we will be able to do so. Mary had to endure a parting from her Beloved Son, but only for a little while. He was with her in spirit and in the Eucharist, but what mother does not long to embrace her child? How many of us have had those we love go before us to the Lord and feared that we should never feel the warmth of their embrace? Because of today, we need not fear it.
Mary is the first creature of God's creation to go before us to show us what we shall be. The simplest of bodily affections are not scuttled, but sanctified. God does not want us to get beyond the body. We are our bodies. We were always meant to feel and express and receive love not just with our minds but with all of ourselves. And we will continue to do so at the Resurrection, the day when we awaken from these Shadowlands and into real life.
I am able to endure the long expanses without my wife because I know that at the end of the day I will once again hold her in my arms. And when the parting that we call death comes to us, I will be able to endure.
Because just like Mary on this day, I will be one day able to hold the one I love in my arms forever.