There is love in the suffering… right inside the ugliest and most painful parts of our lives there is beauty, there is love. How could we know love without suffering? Sometimes I think about the times in history that so many lived and died in, how common suffering was. How people chose to suffer to find real and beautiful and safe. How sometimes suffering was just a part of life… and people adapted and found beauty in the simple. There is beauty in suffering… you just have to really look.
God does not waste any of it, not suffering, living, smiling, joy, pain… tears. Every single piece of our journey, every thread woven into our lifes tapestry is meant to be there. What if our tapestry is smaller than others… what if there isn’t the time in our life to have the immense tapestry that some get… what if instead a life’s tapestry is smaller- but so beautiful? What if the suffering and joy woven into that little tapestry is bright and dark and intricate and full? What if not all tapestry’s are meant to be huge to be the most beautiful and loving and painful and full tapestry’s?
Lola was lovely, simple, real, joyful and beautiful. Lola embraced her suffering, she saw the beauty, grace and dignity of her pain… she lived. She made her own choices- difficult choices in the light of her diagnosis of DIPG. She chose to use her time here to help doctors understand and know DIPG better, to help aid the trials to do better attacking the tumor… ultimately, she chose to let doctors learn more about her tumor and terminality while experiencing more pain, more suffering because of it. I look at Lola and see a martyr. She is not only a Martyr for DIPG research and those children who are sick, but she was a Martyr for her faith. She never let anyone leave her presence not seeing the light that God put into her, the faith she had. She suffered, she endured, she shared her humor and faith until her soul left her body. There was love and beauty in her suffering. There is love and beauty in her medium size tapestry…
On Monday April 2, 2018 Lola Munoz left her suffering body, she left her tapestry finished tapestry, and she joined Jesus. I can only imagine that Jesus gave her a high 5 for the work she did here, that He was so proud of her. I know He doesn’t enjoy that suffering, but man does He appreciate the suffering and the beauty. He knows the beauty in Lola. He knows the simplicity and joy and honesty she exuded in her days here on Earth. I have no doubt that when Lola entered heaven Jesus told her she lived well, just right. She did.
She made such an impact on my heart, body and soul. Lola was, what I can imagine Madeline to be like 7 years older than when she headed to heaven. Compassionate, silly, kind, joyful, simple, lovely, faithful and beyond… that is Lola and Madeline.
I flew out to Chicago this past week to hug Lola’s mom and say goodbye to the lovely and missed Lola. Through the sky and the wind and the cold, I headed out on an adventure to Chicago. I felt so at home with Lola’s family, they made me feel welcome and connected. I felt a lot this week… more than I have in a long time. I sat with Melissa, Lola’s mom, we talked about the last moments, the sounds, the way the body looks different than we imagined when our children died. Lola was home with her family, a whole bunch of them when she left. I remember when Madeline died, she waited for her sisters. She went on her terms, hearing the girls, Matthew and I sitting with her. The girls and I sang songs Madeline loved, and we were just very present in those moments. Lola had her people right there, her family. She got her hugs, her love and her time… and she decided when she was ready to finish suffering. I know this. She was burrowed next to her momma, and she took her last breath. Melissa heard it and felt it… and she snuggled waiting… waiting for the next wet breath. I remember waiting for that breath, I remember snuggling with my daughter looking at Lucy on her feet, Amelia holding her hand and waiting for the last breath. I could hear the changes in her heartbeat… her heart started to sound wet and tired, like Madeline’s heartbeat was leaving. It did… just as Lola’s did. DIPG stole those parts, those girls made smaller tapestries in their short lives, full of love and pain and joy and suffering and light and simple and faithfulness. Forever important tapestries, made for their families to be able to carry them around.
Melissa talked to me about Lola’s Eulogy, her fear of emotion and need for a backup. I thought about Madeline’s funeral, her goodbye. I thought about what hurt that day… right now in this part of my life. I remember Lucy started to cry, she was a baby back then. I stood there, torn. I was so sad that no one took her for me, that in a moment that I needed to be present no one walked up to that pew and carried her to the back so I could be present. Then someone did… one amazing woman walked bravely up to our pew, right next to Madeline, and that momma carried her to the back so I could be right in that moment. For that I am forever grateful… I remember the music, during the song ‘Now I see’ from Tangled, a light from one of the upper windows at Saint Madeleine’s a perfect light shined through the high windows on to her casket. I saw the dust in the air, and little rainbows form around. I just knew that this was where we should be… in this spot of suffering. That our suffering would not be wasted…
I told Melissa I could switch my tickets to not miss the funeral, and would be honored to be a backup. I also told her that there are few things I regret, Madeline’s Eulogy is something I regret. I wish I had the capacity to read what I needed to back then and not have someone else. I try not to focus on her eulogy, the part read by an old friend, it hurts too much to see where life brought both me and that friend. I am more regretful of how I didn’t get up there on that altar- and read the words I needed to for my daughter. I told Melissa to tell your brain and heart to do it, to read it. Don’t practice. Do some serious self talk and tell yourself you WILL read it, you WILL share Lola and her journey, and you WILL not fail. Melissa assured me that with her husband next to her she did just that. I don’t doubt how beautiful it must have been… that lovely can be nothing but beauty to me.
Melissa asked me to read some words a Hospice nurse had given her. I read those words with such a connection, it was like someone wrote all I know about Madeline’s presence and purpose… and Lola’s love and faith. I read them and knew I could not be a back up for Lola’s funeral, because if I read those words I would be telling Madeline’s journey. It was Melissa’s job to tell Lola’s…
So she did.
Life is so hard… brutiful to be exact. This story is full of bruty and honest and truth… it is exactly how Melissa knows life started for her lovely and exactly how Madeline started… this is Lola’s Eulogy and story for her- the beginning and end.
The Brave Little Soul
By John Alessi
Not too long ago in Heaven there was a little soul who took wonder in observing the world. He especially enjoyed the love he saw there and often expressed this joy with God. One day however the little soul was sad, for on this day he saw suffering in the world. He approached God and sadly asked, “Why do bad things happen; why is there suffering in the world?” God paused for a moment and replied, “Little soul, do not be sad, for the suffering you see, unlocks the love in people’s hearts.” The little soul was confused. “What do you mean,” he asked. God replied, “Have you not noticed the goodness and love that is the offspring of that suffering? Look at how people come together, drop their differences and show their love and compassion for those who suffer. All their other motivations disappear and they become motivated by love alone.” The little soul began to understand and listened attentively as God continued, “The suffering soul unlocks the love in people’s hearts much like the sun and the rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this – it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer – to unlock this love – to create this miracle for the good of all humanity.”
Just then the little soul got a wonderful idea and could hardly contain himself. With his wings fluttering, bouncing up and down, the little soul excitedly replied. “I am brave; let me go! I would like to go into the world and suffer so that I can unlock the goodness and love in people’s hearts! I want to create that miracle!” God smiled and said, “You are a brave soul I know, and thus I will grant your request. But even though you are very brave you will not be able to do this alone. I have known since the beginning of time that you would ask for this and so I have carefully selected many souls to care for you on your journey. Those souls will help you create your miracle; however they will also share in your suffering. Two of these souls are most special and will care for you, help you and suffer along with you, far beyond the others. They have already chosen a name for you”. God and the brave soul shared a smile, and then embraced.
In parting, God said, “Do not forget little soul that I will be with you always. Although you have agreed to bear the pain, you will do so through my strength. And if the time should come when you feel that you have suffered enough, just say the word, think the thought, and you will be healed.” Thus at that moment the brave little soul was born into the world, and through his suffering and God’s strength, he unlocked the goodness and love in people’s hearts. For so many people dropped their differences and came together to show their love. Priorities became properly aligned. People gave from their hearts. Those that were always too busy found time. Many began new spiritual journeys, some regained lost faith – many came back to God. Parents hugged their children tighter. Friends and family grew closer. Old friends got together and new friendships were made. Distant family reunited, and every family spent more time together. Everyone prayed. Peace and love reigned. Lives changed forever. It was good. The world was a better place. The miracle had happened. God was pleased.