Sunday, March 2, 2014

Look For the Helpers

source:  Razoo Blog

On Wednesday,  January 22nd this world lost a good and wonderful man, Edward Slattery, to head and neck cancer, after a hard-fought battle lasting about three years.  I had written about Ed last year when there was a fund-raiser held at St. Florian Parish in West Milwaukee to help raise money to pay for the medical bills from his long-lasting cancer treatment.  Ed's story was also featured in the Milwaukee Catholic Herald, and this year, just a short time before he died, the Milwaukee Catholic Herald included Ed's story in their list of the most inspiring stories of the year.

Over the course of the last year, from the time we first learned about Ed's cancer, our family held him deep in our daily prayers. My daughter, Mary, prayed especially intensely for a miraculous healing, and she believed that God would surely help Ed to become a cancer survivor.  We had gone to visit Ed several times, and for my 12-year-old daughter, it was extremely difficult for her to see how rapidly the cancer spread and deeply he suffered.

After we received the unbelievably tragic news that Ed had died, I found my daughter hugging the family cat and overheard her talking to him, saying, "Roo, do you get God?  I think He's mean."  For Mary, the thought that God would not will for Ed's complete healing was unfathomable. I struggled to find the right way to help her to accept that God does not always answer our prayers in the way we would want or expect Him to.  I wanted her to understand that even though sad and tragic things happen in life, God is only good and only Love, and He suffers right along with us when we weep and mourn.

I thought of Mr. Rogers and his kind and gentle way of explaining everything in life.  I remembered his often quoted statement about "looking for helpers" during tragedies and I was able to comfort Mary with the fact that in the suffering that Ed endured, she was a helper. Her prayers, her visits, and her loving concern, all helped Ed to cope with his cancer, to know that he was loved, and to move toward his inevitable death with peace. God used Mary to help Ed, and Mary willingly complied with God's use of her in giving her compassion and love so generously.

It was easy to see that Ed had many such helpers along his journey with cancer.  In his life filled with selfless giving, so many others came to know and love Ed, and wanted to give back to him. He never seemed to have a shortage of helpers, most notably in his beautiful wife, Lisa.  If I were to choose an example of a perfect marriage, I would look to Lisa and Ed.  Lisa never left Ed's side for one minute during his illness. She loved him and cared for him and believed in him.  She did everything she possibly could to give him comfort and support and to promote his healing.  She relied heavily upon prayer, and despite the fact that physical healing didn't come, the prayer that she and Ed shared surely fostered a spiritual healing that carried Ed into the arms of God upon his departure from this earthly home.

When we attended Ed's funeral, we found a packed funeral home for the wake, and an even more packed church for the Mass.  There was not a dry eye to be found as Ed had touched so many lives in this corner of the world.  Some of his siblings, and all four of his young sons, all spoke about what a wonderful man Ed was, and, before the Mass ended, over 100 young men that Ed had coached in basketball, including two of my sons, stood at the foot of the altar in tribute to the man who had taught them not just how to play a game, but also how to make their way through life with perseverance, passion and hard work.

In his life, Ed had been a helper to many, and in his sickness, so many people were able to return that help to him.  Now, in his death, those helpers continue to pray for his soul and for his surviving family.

My daughter and I are learning to look for the helpers in every situation and to be willing to be a helper to all. And in our helping, we are bringing the love of God to the world around us. What an honor it is to help God, to bring his healing to those who suffer through our words and actions, to pray for those we care about and even for those we don't know so well.

Look for the helpers.  They are each of us and they are everywhere.

Eternal rest grant unto Ed Slattery, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him.  May Ed's soul, and all of the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace.  Amen.

The Slattery Family

1 comment:

  1. Anne, this is a tough one. What a beautiful young family! I am so sorry. What an inspiration you had when you shared with Mary about "look for the helpers." I'm going to remember that advice. Thanks, Anne!