A Reflection on Death and Dying
I’m just going to cut to the chase here: I finally finished The Brothers Karamazov! In record time, only four short months!
Okay, I’ll stop gloating now.
My husband asked me how it went. “Did you enjoy it or did you basically just slog your way through it?”
“Both,” was my answer. “I loved it and I slogged my way through it.”
Here are a couple of fun facts about Dostoevsky. One, he had very strong political views and was once arrested and led before a firing squad. At the very last moment, he and the other prisoners were reprieved by a “show of mercy” from the Tsar—a show of mercy that was staged in order to maximize their fear and repentance.
Okay, so that’s not exactly a “fun” fact—not fun for Dostoevsky, in any case.
The other piece of trivia is that The Brothers Karamazov was the last novel he wrote. It was the sum of his life’s work and thought, and is one of the best—and the hardest—books that I’ve read.
Thank you, thank you, Well Read Mom.
Thank you, thank you, Dostoevsky.
Three short weeks ago, I called my sister Yvonne to check in on my mom. Neither my sister nor my mom were doing very well—my sister, the oldest sibling in my family, had taken on the lion’s share of my mom and dad’s care-giving and the stress was beginning to wear her down.
Living four hours away is stressful for me, but it is in NO way comparable to what my sister has gone through.
As a side note: This was the day before Mother Teresa was to be canonized on Sunday, September 4th. I had had thoughts of watching the canonization with my kids and of celebrating this amazing new saint with fun food and crafts.
In short, I was torn.
My parents and my sister…or my kids?
I asked a friend and fellow homeschooling mom after Mass that morning. When I told her briefly the situation, she didn’t hesitate. She said, “Go home.”
This was to be a grace-filled decision. Here are some photos from my trip.
These pictures tell more of the story than my words ever could. My mom and dad’s 70-year love story is ending. We don’t know when and neither do they, but it’s hard meanwhile—almost unbearably so.
The key word in that last sentence is “almost.” Without the grace of the day…the hour…the minute…
I don’t think my dad, my sisters or I could make it.
The Brothers Karamazov were with me on this trip. I listened to this Audible version all the way there and back—its words and its themes, both a comfort and a call to action.
I’d like to end this post with three of my favorite quotes from the book. Meanwhile, if you could spare a prayer for my mom & my dad and my family…
I would be truly grateful.
“What is hell? I maintain that it is the suffering of being unable to love.”
“It’s the great mystery of human life that old grief passes gradually into quiet tender joy.”
“You must know that there is nothing higher, or stronger, or sounder, or more useful afterwards in life, than some good memory, especially a memory from childhood, from the parental home. You hear a lot said about your education, yet some such beautiful, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man stores up many such memories to take into life, then he is saved for his whole life.”