Just a thought… And he departed from our sight that we might return to our heart, and there find Him. For He departed, and behold, He is here. [St Augustine]
Here we are on the edge of the Easter weekend. It’s a holiday signifying a rebirth, a time of hope and renewal, a period when we’re reminded that life goes on and even begins again. I’d like to share with you a story that brought that home to me once again this week.
One month ago yesterday, Luisa lost her son; Anna lost her husband. Anthony succumbed to his mental illness after fighting many deep bouts of depression. Having grown up with a father who dealt with his own troubles, 41-year-old Anthony knew the toll this could take on his family and did everything he could think of to beat it.
Anthony, with whom we’d worked at Rogers and who was respected and well-liked, had been in therapy for many years and was working hard to get better, but it wasn’t enough. Here is the piece he wrote while trying to cope with his illness.
Pardon me, for I am human.
Forgive me, for I have erred.
Help me, so that I may regain my stance.
Teach me, so that I may learn.
Support me, so that I may grow.
Love me, so that I may feel special.
Let me do all these for you,
So that I may know that I am not alone.
Right now I’m betting you’re wondering what this story has to do with life renewing itself, with hope and faith. I’ll tell you.
Last week Luisa reached out and asked if we could talk. When we spoke, she told me of her son’s deep pain and of his sweet and loving nature. I was able to tell her that her son often entered the studio with a furrowed brow, as when an engineer was called, it meant there was a problem. And his job was to find and solve it.
His passion for his job was evident, but he could laugh with us while troubleshooting. He warmed quickly to you once he knew he was in a safe space and we always appreciated seeing him come through the door, even if it meant something had gone wrong!
His coworkers were gutted at the news of Anthony’s death. He was a doting father, a devoted son and a talented musician. In fact, he wrote this song when he was in his teens, but just added the desperate, painful lyrics lately. Anthony sings/shouts backup and plays drums in this piece. His mother would love for you to share it if there’s anyone you think it might help.
As we were wrapping up our phone call last week and sent each other hugs, I asked Luisa if she’d seen any signs. She talked about spotting doves but said, “Anthony, I don’t want birds – I want you!”
I asked if perhaps it meant the doves – a common sign for peace – were telling his beloved mother that her son’s soul was finally no longer in torment. That he’d been let out to play, as the lyrics of his song demand.
I told her about my heart-shaped dish of dimes (and a few quarters) that Rob and I have found when we’ve needed a message from Loo. Luisa said she hadn’t heard of that, and would keep an eye out.
Just a few days ago, Luisa (often called “Lou”) wrote again to tell me that her granddaughters – Anthony’s beautiful trio of children – found a stuffed animal, a sloth, near a children’s swing just after their father’s passing.
Their Nonna took this filthy, long abandoned toy from their home to hers and washed it several times, heavy on the fabric softener (“it smells like poo” they had complained when they handed it over) and this is what Lou wrote:
When I returned it to the girls, I explained that going forward to have an open mind and be aware of subtle things and connect the dots. The middle one said, dad would know that if they found a stuffed animal, the would surely bring it home! I told them this thing had a big belly like daddy and wide enough arms to hug them as if it was daddy and this ugly stuffed animal deserved a special place in the house where they can feel close to Dad.
Luisa thanked me for helping to make a connection they could relate to on their level, but honestly, all it takes is having open eyes and – most of all – an open heart. And just believing that love never, ever dies.
Happy Easter. I’ll be back with you on Tuesday. May your heart be at peace.
And here is Anthony’s obituary if you want to know a little more about this sweet man.