So, you would think that it wouldn't have surprised me to suddenly read a bunch of beautiful John Paul the Great tributes today on many of my favorite blogs, as they all commemorate the second anniversary of his death.
You would think.
But no, this is me. I can't seem to keep track of things that normal people keep track of. Like dates. And anniversaries of things that are important to me (though I always remember ours, Atticus.) I'm not very good at commemorating things that happened in the past.
You see it on a small level ... such as on this blog. I have no idea what the exact date was that I began this blog (oh, yeah, I could go back and look, but the thing is ... I don't know. It was fall-ish, 2005.) And I don't know how many posts I've put up, how many comments I've received, or exactly how long I've been doing this.
The blog just is. This writing exists now, as a part of my present, part of who I am, a part of what I do every day. I don't look back (except to dig for decent material on a day when it's all I can do to wake up, shower, drink coffee and tell you about You Tube. )
I do it in other ways, too. I can't remember what life was like before Ramona, or before Betsy and Anne. Sometimes I recall something from early in our marriage, and I think extraordinarily stupid things, like, "Gosh, how did all five of us fit into that tiny one bedroom apartment?" and then I remember that there weren't five of us because Atticus and I didn't have any children yet.
I can't remember things I should commemorate. I live in the present because most of the time, my fuzzy, caffeine-addled, mothering, homeschooling brain can't handle anything more than that. So, instead of specifics, and anniversaries and commemorations, I live in a more, ummm ... conceptual world. Yeah, that's it.
So, I get up one day, and even though I love my Papa, John Paul the Greatest Ever, I forget that it is the anniversary of his death. Because I'm living in a concept, instead of a normal life. But, here's the concept, and when I put it this way, it doesn't seem half bad:
In the days after my dearly beloved Holy Daddy (as Ramona called him, and as I felt down to the core of my being) died, I felt his presence and his prayers for me so closely, so sharply, that I stopped thinking of his death. I felt his life, and I continue to feel it.
As I wrote that year:
... although I knew his prayers for “all the faithful” included me, I also knew that on a practical level, JPII didn’t know me. He didn’t know for whom or for what I prayed, he didn’t know my private struggles and many weaknesses. He didn’t know how much I personally needed him. Now he does.He is present to me as never before.
As I prayed at Mass, on Divine Mercy Sunday, I felt an overwhelming need to cry out to my papa. I asked him to pray for me. I felt drenched in his love and paternal concern as I imagined his beaming face. I felt convinced, down to my bones, that he now knows. He knows every private struggle that I reveal to him in prayer and he will lay them before my Heavenly Father’s throne, in urgent and loving intercession. He is now present to me as never before.
And, mercifully, he knows how much I loved him and love him still. He knows that my forgetting the anniversary of his death is not because I don't care, but because I care so much about the present, and his presence in it.
He didn't go away two years ago. He's still here. Closer than ever.
We love you, Holy Daddy.