It was an early Autumn afternoon several years ago. The air was warm and the sun was bright but I still felt cold and gloomy on the inside. I was visiting my Dad in the local nursing home. I found him asleep in his bed. It felt so strange. He never slept in the afternoon. His decline had been so fast. In the early Summer he had seemed so healthy and so strong. He had fought his way back from prostrate cancer and I had looked forward to sharing many more years with him. Then his behavior had started to change and become erratic. A trip to the VA Hospital had diagnosed Dementia. Spots were found on a brain scan. The cancer had spread.
In the months that followed Dad grew weaker and was depressed. He was so sad being so far away in a sterile hospital room. My brothers and I finally helped him to move closer to home by getting him a room in the local nursing home. I visited him as much as I could. As I watched him sleeping that day, though, I could sense him slipping away. He would die a few weeks later.
I decided to let Dad rest and walked down the hallways to the front door. My soul felt dark. My spirit felt like a two ton boulder was weighing down on it. As I walked outside I saw that the bright day had grown gray. Rain was starting to fall too. I saw one patient in a wheel chair outside slowly trying to wheel herself in. I quickly walked over and pushed her out of the rain. She smiled tenderly and thanked me for my help. I smiled back and walked to my car. I noticed something too: for the first time that day my spirit felt lighter and my soul brighter.
I think now that maybe it was because in that brief moment I had acted in the spirit of love. In the end love is all that matters. It is love that gives life meaning. It is love that brings us closer to God. May you always act in the spirit of love then. May you do so in the good times. And may you do so even when your soul feels crushed under the weight of the world.
Joseph J. Mazzella