SAUCIER — The apple and the tree


I wish I knew her better.

She was a peripheral friend — a fellow parishioner, someone I’d always say hello to, but never really got beyond the surface.

Perhaps if I had known she would die at 40, maybe I would have taken the time. But she did, and I didn’t.

My wife and some of the kids knew her better than I, and so there we were at another funeral for a woman who faithfully departed far too young.

There was a visitation before the Mass. Her mother was next to her daughter’s casket.

Incredibly close in life, death had failed to separate the two.

The line was long, and as we inched forward, I watched as this grieving mother hugged and smiled, nodded and whispered to everyone who awkwardly tried to express condolence.

She may well have given more comfort than she received.

I marveled at this woman. She had already buried her husband and their other child. I would have been an emotional ruin of blather and tears, but here she stood strong and courageous in her life-giving faith and undying love.

Reaching the casket, I was shocked to see what remained after her daughter’s final days. She looked small and waxen.

But why shouldn’t she? She had given her all, not just after she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, but her daily way.

Giving all defined her. And now, the spirit that fired that life was gone.

Maybe that’s the way you should look if you live from the soul and then that soul leaves your body.

When it was our turn, I said to her mother, pointing to the already packed church, “I know it doesn’t relieve the pain, but this is an amazing testament to the sheer number of lives she touched.”

Looking beyond me, she responded, “Yes.”

Yes, it was amazing and, yes, it doesn’t relieve the pain.

Later, looking around the church, I was struck by the spectrum of those who came to mourn a loss and celebrate a life.

There were little kids and people far older than I. There were family, co-workers, high school classmates and a whole menagerie of friends gathered from many sources.

The homily gave hope and the eulogy tribute, but it was the crowd that spoke the loudest.

She wasn’t a prominent person, held no elevated position, wielded no power. But she filled a church.

It’s consoling in these tribal times, that so many people recognize simple goodness.