But reflecting on the poem we found, it comforts me. It shows my mother was the opposite of suicidal, the opposite of despairing. But she did not approve of death. Neither does God.
She had the same attitude toward death that Christ did. Death isn’t merely the “passing over” we politely call it. It is a radical separation of soul and body. It was never intended. It came from sin.
“In the plan of God,” says the Compendium of the Catechism, man “would not have had to suffer or die.” As St. Ambrose put it, “Death was not part of nature; it became part of nature. God did not decree death from the beginning.”
It is only by the extraordinary grace of God becoming man and dying for our sins that death is anything but a horror to us. And even now, “the last enemy to be destroyed is death,” says St. Paul as he looks to the future to Christ’s complete victory.
I still don’t know why God allowed my mother to suffer what she did. But along with all the pain and heartache that came from it, I know much good came from it too.
I got to see her smile, and I got to read the poem she left. The two go together.
I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind:
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely. Crowned
With lilies and with laurel they go; but I am not resigned.
Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.