Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas in Heaven: Do You Believe?

My oldest brother will be celebrating Christmas in Heaven this year. He passed away this week. As I have previously written, he has suffered from ALS for over a year and a half. It progressively became worse and worse until he became totally disabled and was bed ridden, paralyzed, relying on machines to feed him, breathe and for bowel movements. The end was the worst for him, lying in pain. He wanted to turn off the machines but changed his mind too many times for him to actually be able to do it. In the end, his body just gave out and he passed away. Now, he has joined our mom and dad and two brothers who passed before him. Knowing that he is joining them is comforting. He is at peace now. Gone is the pain and the fear.

I wonder if I could stand the thought of death without knowing there is God, Heaven and an after-life.

My mother taught us to go to church every Sunday and to celebrate Mass on Holy Days, especially Christmas. She taught us to dress up on Sunday, go to church, honor God, honor the day and spend time with family. Later, she encouraged us to become active at church, join the choir, teach Catechism and to feel love for our fellow man. She taught us so many songs, both for church and for Holy Days. She taught us to sing from our heart and to show love for our fellow man! She taught us to say the Rosary. She taught us to say grace before meals. She said religion, our souls, is what makes us different than the animals. We believe in God. We believe in Heaven. We believe in Eternal Life after Death.

Holidays were always special times. She taught us, as her mother taught her, the Posadas. During the Christmas Holidays, everyone helped to festively decorate the church. Las Posadas were a special time in our church. We reenacted Joseph´s journey with Mary to Bethlehem. Las Posadas started on December 16 and continued through Christmas Eve. Our families went to church every evening during this time for the reenactment. We went from house to house and sang songs. It was a beautiful time of togetherness. It also helped all of us understand the true meaning of Christmas. Mary and Joseph arrived at the inn and we were all welcomed in for the birth of Christ. When I think of those times, I think of the birth of Christ, the singing and the feeling that we were all joined together in this Celebration of the True Meaning of Christmas!
I remember a Christmas song my mother taught us as children and it still resounds in my memories today:
"Ya rompió el alba del día, nació el niño manuelito, cantemos con alegría, a la lu, Niño chiquito. A la lu, Niño chiquito. Cantemos con alegria, Cantemos con grande fe, alaven los dulces nombres de Jesus, Maria y Jose. De Jesus, Maria y Jose."

As I sit and contemplate Christmas, life and death, illness and health, this life and the next, I wonder what I would be thinking right now if my mother did not instill these beliefs in me?


I Travel for JOOLS said...

I'm sorry about the passing of your brother and his trials at the end. I worry too about my mother as her lung cancer advances. She has suffered from a stroke, paralysis, kidney failure, and now cancer.

We could not endure these things without our faith. My mother was much like yours when I was young. We always went to Sunday School and church, said our prayers and were schooled in living a virtuous life.

On this Christmas, I wish you and your family a blessed Christmas. I am waiting for my grandchildren to wake up and see their happy faces when they see what Santa has brought them.

No matter our political differences, our mothers made sure we had God and Jesus Christ in common.

Vicente Duque said...

Greetings to Dee and Jools and sorry for the terminal sickness.

Have Family Holidays, be together. I hope things improve.

I have been making company to my mother some days. She is extremely old and is in her very last days of walking with strong help.

She doesn't want to use her wheelchair. She is in good brain condition and knowledge but her body is very deteriorated by heavy smoking, arthritis, heart condition "angina pectoris", diabetes and many other illness including a defeated colon cancer.

She has always been an angel to many people .... She is still an angel of kindness, compassion, charity, etc ...

I hope that you can be united with your families and have the Peace and Healing of Nativity.

Greetings to all friends of this beautiful Blog "Immigration Talk with a Mexican American"

Vicente Duque

Dee said...

Jools and Vicente,
You are right about our beautiful mothers instilling God, Christ and the knowledge of Heaven into each of us.

Death may be a merciful sleep for all of us, especially those with difficult life endings, as my brother had.

ultima said...

My condolences on the death of your oldest brother. I'm sure his last thoughts were of his family and of his relief to be able to move on. Perhaps he also thought like this as the end approach:

Some time at eve when the tide is low,
I shall slip my mooring and sail away,
With no response to the friendly hail
Of kindred craft in the busy bay.

In the silent hush of the twilight pale,
When the night stoops down to embrace the day
And the voices call in the waters’ flow -
Some time at eve, when the tide is low
I shall slip my mooring and sail away.

Through the purpling shadows that darkly trail
O’er the ebbing tide of the Unknown Sea,
I shall fare me away, with a dip of sail
And a ripple of waters to tell the tale
Of a lonely voyager, sailing away
To the Mystic Isles where at anchor lay
The rafts of those who have sailed before
O’er the Unknown Sea to the Unseen Shore.

It is there that I will wait for thee,
Through rising tides and gathering storms,
In the Mystic Isles is where I’ll be.

A few who have watched me sail away
Will miss my craft from the busy bay;
Some friendly barks that were anchored near,
Some loving soul that my heart held dear,
In silent sorrow will drop a tear.

But I shall have peacefully furled my sail
In moorings sheltered from storm or gale,
And greeted the friends who have sailed before
O’er the Unknown Sea to the Unseen Shore.

Denise lugo said...

Im so sorry to hear that he has passed away. Your article touched me because this is my family's first Christmas without my nephew Jesse who passed away in a tragic car accident in May. My sister couldnt celebrate the day without him. She pretended it to be just another day.

Your mother was a wonderful woman Dee. Thank you for the article that reminded me that all of our loved ones are celebrating Christmas in Heaven. Its hard not to feel guilty for moving on without them, but your article reminded me that we can.

Best wishes and God Bless.

Dee said...

Thank you and thank you for the beautiful poem. Very thoughtful.

Dee said...

Thank you. I've had 3 brothers pass since Dec 2006 and my mom died last year. If not for believing in God and Heaven, it would be just to horrible to contemplate.

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