I had met Joanne twice through pro-life work. Sad to hear that she passed away. My friend Lea Singh has written a lovely tribute to her. But it’s also a call to honour people in our lives today, knowing that death is the only certainty we know on earth:
Why is it that we wait until after death to celebrate a person’s life? It’s really all upside down. We should get together before the funeral. We should speak up before the funeral. Before the person has passed away, they should have the solace and joy of knowing how much they have meant to us.
Joanne McGarry was the same age as my mother, and perhaps that is why I am thinking especially of my own mother, whom I want to appreciate and recognize ever more for all that she has done for us in her hard life. I want to make sure that my mother understands that I love her and that I am grateful for all her toil and all her sacrifices.
There have been times, even in my adult life, when I have given my mother a very hard time and brought her to the point of tears. I hope that she has forgiven me for those times. The truth is that my mother is an inspiring example of strength for me. She still works so hard, and my mission now is just to keep our relationship good and to bring her as much happiness as I can, especially though her grandchildren, whom she dearly loves.
Life is so short. I know that when I pass away, there will soon be hundreds of unread emails in my in-box. My to-do list will be nowhere near accomplished, and those great projects I’ve been planning will remain forever undone. But all of that will not matter at all, and even I wouldn’t miss all those unfinished tasks, which are really more of a burden than a pleasure in some ways.
Since we can’t possibly accomplish everything we want in life, we need to focus on what truly matters and put our energies there. As St. Alphonsus de Liguori makes clear in his Preparation for Death, the greatest treasure we have been given here on Earth is time, which so many people fritter away in silly ways.
It is hard to use our time well. There are innumerable distractions, a never-ending parade of things that seem important in the moment but are insignificant and forgotten soon afterwards.
Whenever we need help to evaluate what matters in the long term, nothing is better than thinking about our own death. We don’t need to get depressed over it and snorkel in a pool of self-pity. We can use it to snap ourselves into focus.
On a different note, I learned of this while frittering my time away on Facebook. Sigh.by