"In life we do many things, say many things, but the voice of suffering offered out of love - which is perhaps unheard by and unknown to others - is the loudest cry that can penetrate Heaven"
In my previous post I asked the question "Where are you God?" I've since learned that when we ask a question of God we had better be prepared to hear an answer, for God did answer my question, not just in the quiet of my silent home at night, but also in a very profound way, through the witness of a faithful couple who are undergoing the effects of cancer and the changes that this diagnosis has brought to their lives.
My family is made up of early risers and we usually attend the 7:30 AM Mass on Sundays at our parish, but my son John was asked to cantor at the 9 AM Mass this past weekend, so we all slept in a bit to attend the later Mass together. The church was full of familiar faces that we hadn't see in many years since we started routinely attending the earlier Mass.
After Mass many of the worshipers headed down to the church hall for "Hospitality Sunday" which is an opportunity to socialize with others while enjoying coffee and donuts. On this particular Sunday, the Home and School Association was also sponsoring a hot ham and roll/bake sale to raise funds.
My family and I sat with some old friends that we hadn't seen in a while and we were enjoying catching up with each other. Soon we were joined by our pastor, Fr. Dave, who had purchased some of the ham and rolls and was generously and lovingly serving it to my family. It felt so good to be in the presence of family and friends, just relaxing and enjoying each other's company. Then as the hall started to clear out a bit I saw them in the corner of my eye: Ed and Lisa Slattery, that is.
"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." ~Philipians 4:13
My family and I have known Ed and Lisa for the past ten years. Ed has been the basketball coach for my sons, John and Jack, and they both learned so much under Ed's guidance. We have spent many enjoyable hours sitting in the gym watching Ed pace back and forth and calling out "Bender! Bounce pass!" or "Bender! Shoot!" or "Bender! Dribble!" Ed has devoted countless hours to teaching not only his own four sons, but many other boys as well, the skills necessary to play a good game of basketball, and there are many families, including my own, that are deeply grateful to him for selflessly sharing his passion for the sport with their sons.
But now Ed is in need of much prayer as he was diagnosed with cancer of the throat. After initial treatments, he was recently diagnosed for a second time. It's a heartbreak not only for Ed and Lisa and their fine four sons, but also for everyone who knows Ed.
Paul and I had a blessed opportunity to sit and speak with them before heading out for the day. Ed sat with a half-eaten donut that was too dry for him to manage to swallow since his face is now half-paralyzed. His voice, barely audible, was a small echo of the robust shouts we remember hearing on the basketball court.
Lisa, a beautiful woman of great strength and deep love, spoke about the countless hours that they spend in doctor's offices these days. She talked about how they scramble to get his medical care appointments arranged around both of their work schedules, the work that is more necessary than ever to pay for their medical bills. But they didn't only speak about Ed's health. Both Ed's and Lisa's eyes just shone with pride as they spoke about their boys, particularly their two oldest who both attend UW-Madison. Lisa, in particular, spoke of what a blessing it is to see that their Catholic faith still plays an important role in the lives of her adult sons as the campus offers an abundance of opportunities available to them.
But her eyes quickly filled with tears as Ed showed us the gift that Lisa gave him for their most recent anniversary. It was a ring that said "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." He mentioned that wearing it to work has allowed him to witness to the faith with his co-workers. But Ed didn't dwell on his health for long before the conversation quickly turned to his passion, teaching boys to play basketball, and both Ed's and Lisa's faces lit up with joy.
As we sat and visited with Ed and Lisa, I was overcome with, not sadness, but joy. It was so easy to see that this couple has accepted the cross which has been laid upon their shoulders and they see each day as an opportunity to care for each other and their children with love and grace. So here was God, not just passing by but sitting directly across from me. Here was God in this beautiful and strong and faith-filled couple. Here He was, showing me what it means to trust, to hope and to love. Here was God living in Ed and Lisa Slattery and here were Ed and Lisa witnessing to God's loving presence through their every word and action. It was a moment of unmeasurable blessing.
There will be a benefit fish fry and silent auction to financially aid the Slattery family this Friday, January 25th at St. Florian's Parish in West Milwaukee from 5-10 PM. Details are below. If you are in the Milwaukee area, please consider attending to help this wonderful family. And please, no matter where you are, will you offer a prayer for Ed's healing and for all of the family's needs during this difficult time?
Hundreds of young athletes from Milwaukee, West Allis, Whitnall, and Greenfield have benefited from the thousands of hours Coach Slattery has dedicated to them over the last 15 years. Unfortunately Ed, Coach Slattery, has been diagnosed with cancer for a second time. As he fights through this challenge Ed and his family can use our help.
If you know Ed, you know him as a committed coach, great co-worker, dedicated husband and proud father of four.
A benefit dinner and silent auction with DJ is planned to financially aid the Slattery family.
ED SLATTERY BENEFIT FISH-FRY
AND SILENT AUCTION
St. Florian Parish
1233 South 45th Street Milwaukee, WI 53214
(1 block North of Greenfield Ave. on 45th St.)
Friday January 25th, 2013
Benefit: 5:00 PM until 10:00 PM (FISH FRY 4 - 7)
Voted Best Fish Fry by the readership of the Catholic Herald
Donation: Adults $20.00 and Children $10.00 (12 & under)
Tickets available at the door
All proceeds will benefit the Slattery family during Ed’s treatment and recovery.
SORRY, DONATIONS ARE NOT TAX DEDUCTABLE.