Love notes

Saturday, October 5, 2019, 9:33 a.m. – Peaceful, quiet, God-filled day.

Mom always said that the death of a child was the greatest sorrow to endure.  Certainly, the Blessed Mother knew this better than anyone.  But a brother’s passing is just as heart-wrenching!

My brother Arnold— Joe to friends, Noldi to relatives— died Friday, October fourth.  He’d been in poor health for the past two years and had undergone surgery on Tuesday to repair a broken hip.  Then, as his wife and the nurse helped him into the car to go home, he experienced tightness in his chest and couldn’t breathe.  Hospital staff immediately rushed to resuscitate him, but heaven claimed him instead.

Sixty-five years ago Dad died from illness at the age of forty-three.  I was just five, but I clearly remember standing at his bedside as he spoke to me before taking his last breath.  Arnold was just six months old, so he never had the chance to know Dad’s love the way I did— something I greatly lamented over the years.  But he was close to Mom until her death eight years ago.

Joe A. Longoria, son of Guillermo “Willie” Longoria and Irene “Lucy” D. Vera, celebrated thirty-eight years of marriage with his beloved college sweetheart, Linda Paige Porter, August 2019.  Devoted spouse, wonderful son, loving brother, loyal friend, Arnold was my hero and so much more.

Naturally, my heart is broken.  I miss the life Arnold had yet to live beyond his sixty-five years among us.  I miss his dimples, his stories, and his laughter, too.  But he’s at peace now— at home with Mom and Dad.

God be with us in our sorrow through the night and day.  May some blessing come tomorrow that will clear its cloud away.  God is generous in his giving.  Give him now the soul that’s fled.  May he bless with strength the living.  Rest eternally the dead.

As Christians we understand that death is part of God’s master plan: He longs for us to return to him!  “Our family chain is broken and nothing seems the same; but, as God calls us one by one, the chain will link again” (Tranmer, 2009).  Still, nothing lessens the grief, the wishing for more time together.

Thank you for your love and support in this, our time of emotional distress.

Somehow or another we always get past our tough times and find that we’ve been able to bear our crosses so much better with a little help from our friends and loved ones even when they’re with us only in spiritbecause they are, after all, God’s gift to us when we need him most (Lanoux, “Bearing one’s crosses,” 2011).

God bless you sweetly!  Love, joy, peace!

.

Friday, October 11, 2019, 8:34 p.m. – Windy out.  Autumn has arrived.

“At the heart of each of us, whatever our imperfections, there exists a silent pulse of perfect rhythm, which is absolutely individual and unique and yet which connects us to everything else” (George Leonard).

Friday evening a week ago— at 7:40 p.m. to be precise— we received a rude awakening: A phone call with the news of Arnold’s passing and, frankly, we were stunned beyond the beyond.

How could it be?  We hadn’t even known he’d been ill since 2017.  And, really, I’d always thought I’d be the first to go since I was older by almost five-and-a-half years.  And Arnold was always so courageous and resilient despite life’s ups and downs!

What a struggle to make sense of it all.  I was awake all night until 7:05 a.m. the next morning and then slept barely more than an hour before I immersed myself in something constructive to keep from going nutz.  I had to distract myself!  My head and my nose hurt so much that I couldn’t cry anymore.

Without thinking about it, I added dates to the back cover of Arnold’s birthday card from January.  And then the cover photo totally blew me away.  Mom had accompanied him on his final journey.  Dad and all our loved ones who’d preceded him in death had welcomed him home!  His best bud, Benny, who’d waited decades for him, had to have been ecstatic.  I couldn’t begrudge them that marvelous reunion!

Last Sunday a woman told me, after I “lost it” during Mass, that we grieve not for our dearly departed, but for ourselves.  I couldn’t imagine life without my brother!  Arnold was such a good guy— loving, lovable, authentic, caring, funny, outgoing— that I missed him a lot.  But, mostly, I felt incomplete.  I hadn’t told him lots of things: “I love you,” “I’m sorry for all the stupid things I said and did that hurt your feelings,” “I appreciate all you did for the kids and me” and more.  Worse, I’d never have another of his “man hugs.”

I felt anxious.  Too many loose ends.  I was mostly quiet on our drive to Groesbeck on Monday.  But, listening to Paige on the phone that evening, I sensed Arnold’s total surrender and peace of mind as— unbeknownst to both of them— he was fast approaching his journey’s end.

Arnold knew that Paige was with him.  And she was fulfilling his heartfelt desire, his last requestShe was taking him home!

Never.  We never lose our loved ones.  They accompany us; they don’t disappear from our lives.  We are merely in different rooms (Paulo Coelho in Aleph).

To everyone (near and far) who extended condolences, prayers, and Mass intentions; sent flowers; spent time with us at the funeral home; attended the graveside service; and/or hosted the potluck meal at the First Methodist Church in Groesbeck— thank you for accompanying us when we needed you most!  Thank you for helping us celebrate Arnold’s beautiful life.  Thank you for sharing your memories.  Thank you for keeping the love going past the loss and the pain.  We are eternally grateful!

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Friday, December 20, 2019, 9:42 a.m. – Quiet, rainy, God-filled day!

Appreciation is a wonderful thing.  It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well (Voltaire).

My brother Arnold loved Christmas.  He lived it every single day through his love, respect, humor, conventional wisdom, and thoughtfulness.  But he also enjoyed sending out Christmas cards— something that Steven and I haven’t always done, even when we’ve had the cards on hand.

Still, we believe that Christmas is year ‘round because giving happens all the time.  Home-baked goods.  Crafted items.  Special cards (and letters) created with the photographs we take.  Christmas is what truly matters.  Sweet exchanges, heartfelt and readily available, that express our appreciation, gratitude, and sincerity.  And, what we absolutely love are the smiles, our shared times, and the stories because everyone has so much to tell, so much to learn, tearfully and/or joyfully.  So, my story this Christmas season makes my eyes water.

As a child, my younger brother would save up fifty cents to buy mom the best gift— the same gift— every single year.  Christmas morning, Arnold would be so over-the-top excited that he’d light up, smiling and grinning with eager anticipation.  “Open my gift first!  Open mine first!” he’d insist.  And sometimes he just couldn’t wait, so he’d unwrap the gift for her as if he had no idea what was within.

This is the first Christmas that Arnold wasn’t around to send Christmas cards or to celebrate the season that he lived every day of his life; but he lived life so richly, so generously, that his gifts of love, joy, peace— and his love of snow globes— live on.

This Christmas, Steven and I are grateful for all that God has bestowed on us—  our gifts and talents, the gift of my brother, and the very special Gift of You!

Arnold’s candle – All Souls – St. Joseph Church

Links of interest…  Arnold’s guestbook…  Confronting death in a culture of avoidance…  Contemplating the reality of death…  Death (friend or foe)…  Eternal rest (prayer)…  Family chain poem: broken chain (Ron Tranmer) / Consolatorio (blog) / memorial / prayer cards…  For the faithful departed…  Friends through it all: Life, death, & grief…  Grieving heart: books / quotes on healing / reflections…  Healing fountain of grief…  Holy sonnets: Death be not proud / souls, prayer, & healing…  Not alone…  Poems for the loss of a child…  Pursued by God…  Resources for grieving…   St. Joseph prayer for the dying…  St. Zélie Martin and overcoming grief in hope…   Turn mourning into joy…  What is death trying to tell us / not to say to someone who is grieving…  You might not see her, but she is right here

WP posts…  Bearing one’s crosses…  Lady of sorrows…  Lingering memory…  Mourning joy…  Picturing God…  Soulful…  Two letters…  Two takes

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© Deli Lanoux, Ed.D. and Shared thoughts…, 2008.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deli Lanoux, Ed.D. and Shared thoughts…, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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