As I sit here tonight holding my mom’s hand watching family and close friends come for a final goodbye, I am wondering is this really it? How do we ever replace unconditional love? Why was I adopted by the best mother ever?

Without divine intervention, my life’s journey could have never started.  I know it began with a 16 year old mother, who I still never met, with no place to turn, except to a Catholic ministry, deciding to take on societal shame and still have a big-headed baby boy on May 27, 1966.

Or maybe I would have been selected by a normal mother who would have provided a warm and nurturing home, but in the end I received the greatest blessing of all in a second miracle… a saintly mother, who never ever uttered a cuss word, said a single bad thing about anyone, and could make daily magic of simply nothing at all by just embracing the hardest Christian commandment, “love thy neighbor as yourself”.  That one has been my Achilles heel for as long as I can remember… how did she do it with such ease?

All day today, I’ve kept the book of Psalms close by, even during our Board Meeting, because it seems so lyrical and perfect to randomly read, so I could just hold it together and try to make it through this important meeting fearing this may be it. I knew she was in great hands because she was at Signature of East Louisville, with one of our most compassionate and skilled teams anywhere in the Revolution.  Late this afternoon, Fran Stahl called my cell to give me an update.  Intimately, he said we are near the end.

This evening, as the room filled with the Mary Louise Steier Fan Club, Sony brought the kids in to make one last visit, unless another miracle happens quickly.  After Ava, Luke, and Jackie entertained the other residents with a little coaching from Aunt Betty, they sat on our laps close to Grandma, realizing how sick she really is.

Then it happened… it was time to go, and each precious Grandchild walked up to her left ear with one hand clenching Sony’s and the other  wrapped beautifully around their Grandmother’s open hand. Each in their own voice told her lovely things. Two said beautiful prayers in her ear.  Several told her they loved her to the moon and back.  All of them told her they had the best Grandmother ever.  The two oldest told her that they would never ever forget her, and told her to send them a signal about how great heaven is.  Finally, one said, make sure you tell Grandpa hi.  It has been almost exactly three years to the day since I felt this familiar pain.  How do we ever say goodbye?  If our faith is so great, then why does it hurt so much?