Since I last posted anything here the PTSD has flared almost every day, and night.
For me, and many PTSD sufferers, one pernicious aspect is constant anxiety/panic/fear.
To help understand what this feels like remember some point in life when, because of an unexpected very loud bang you literally jumped and recall the rush of adrenaline, the scary feeling it triggered.
Now, imagine feeling like that twenty-four seven!
The doctors have made two things very clear: 1] it is probable I will suffer from PTSD the rest of my life, sometimes intensely, sometimes much less so and 2] even a little thing can trigger a major attack.
Well an example of a little thing happened the other day when coming to a stop sign I skidded on black ice halfway into the intersection before the car stopped!
However I was on my way to serve in the soup kitchen so even though I was experiencing a huge spike in the panic state, by the grace of God and the intercession of a new heavenly companion I was able to continue on my way and spend the day serving.
My new heavenly companion is named Dominic and he was only with us on earth for a few months and those spent in the womb and heart of his mother, and the heart of his father and siblings.
Because I am the closest family member I was called to help, the night Dominic unexpectedly went to heaven; spent time caring for his siblings while his parents were at the hospital; several days thereafter helping as best I could to console and pray with the family.
I was honoured to be present when their parish priest [obviously being forbidden to exercise public ministry was there ‘in the pew’] celebrated not so much a funeral Mass as one celebrating the gift of life and love and, through the kindness of the Knights of Columbus, burial was in a special and most sacred section of the Catholic cemetery beneath a large granite wall listing the names and earthly and heavenly birthdays of many little ones.
Truly holy ground, but also to be in the presence of grieving parents is to be on holy ground, to recognize, honour, the extraordinary courage of faithful spouses and parents who choose life, and to build up the civilization of love, in the midst of this culture of death.
With the relentless assault on faith, on the sacredness of life, on the reality of sacramental marriage, to be in the presence of Dominic’s parents is to be bathed in light and indeed in hope, hope and trust that little by little the darkness of the culture of death is being pushed back, or at least fractured, by faithful families.
During that night when Dominic died, while his little sister and two little brothers slept and his parents where at the hospital, I lit a votive light before the family’s statue of Our Blessed Mother and spent time in prayer, profoundly aware of a new heavenly companion even while the PTSD flared.
By the grace of God when the little ones awoke, and accepted my simple word Mama was not feeling well and so Papa took her to the doctor, my attention was focused on caring for the children and so it was not until late that evening, back here in the poustinia, now knowing my new Heavenly Companion’s name, I asked him to obtain a word for me that would help me be present to his parents in their grief, to his siblings, help with my own grief and also to help with the extreme weariness of weeks of the PTSD flaring.
Suddenly I saw in my heart the Holy Child Jesus Himself reaching down and taking Dominic by the hand and heard in my heart: “Friend, come higher!”, and watched as a radiant Little Boy with a great smile went with Jesus.
More, as it were both seen and heard, now Jesus as Divine Mercy was speaking to my own heart directly with the same tender invitation: “Friend, come higher onto the Cross with Me, come deeper into oneness with Me in My anxiety in the Garden, come closer to My aloneness on the Cross and be with Me!”
Ever since then the presence of Dominic is palpable, real, constant.
Just yesterday his mother told me how frequently she has asked his intercession with powerful results.
Our God who is love is never outdone in generosity.
The raw pain of loss will take months to heal, as is a normal part of the grace and mystery of life and death.
Jesus is risen, so death is not an end, but a glorious change of life in time to the timelessness of eternal joy.
Jesus is risen and so we dwell in the reality of the Communion of Saints.
Let us have confidence in all our Heavenly Companions as they call us to come higher into deeper friendship with, intimate confidence in, Jesus.