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Honouring our champions in heaven
A reflection on the ones who have gone before us
As we kick off this month of November, I want to share with you two very beautiful souls who I’ve been lucky to know in my life.
Lauryn Adelie Reyes Mendoza—affectionately known as Lilo—was called home by our Heavenly Father on June 19, 2023.
It was sudden, and as you might imagine, devastating news for everyone who knew and loved her and her family.
As it happened, I was on my home visit in the middle of June and found out in person. While this news was difficult and shocking, there was also an incredible moment of encounter here with God. Lilo, at the very young age of three, was able to touch so many lives with her smile, her cheerfulness, and childlike abandon. It was a gift to be able to attend Lilo’s funeral in person—to be there with so many others who were also touched by Lilo.
I only got to see Lilo a handful of times before I left Vancouver. I got to hold her hand, have conversations with her, and see the world through her eyes. What was just as meaningful was I got to see how loved she is by her parents, Camille and Mike, who I am privileged to be friends with. They were also so ready to share the joy that is Lilo with everyone they met—and our world was so much brighter because of that shared joy and love.
Grief and loss is a difficult thing, and something that I don’t think we ever fully get over.
In this month, especially since we honour the Holy Souls in Purgatory, I’ve been thinking a lot about family and friends who have gone before us.
I’ve shared before about my Poh-Poh (婆婆) and how Wordle reminded me of her. 2023 marks 10 years since her passing. And despite it being a whole decade, there are moments where I feel like her passing just happened yesterday. Emotions that once lay dormant suddenly are stirred up again, and the sadness that springs up feels almost overwhelming and impossible to work through.
There are moments through out my every day life when I am reminded of my Poh-Poh. Sometimes they are tiny, but other times they are really grand and deep. For example, my sisters and I recently learned how to play mah-jong properly (or rather, as properly as I can as a super amateur). The sound of the tiles being shuffled, the wildly specific game calls in Chinese… it transports me back to a time when she would play with her friends: my Poh-Poh enjoyed life, the company of her friends, and playing a game that continually sharpened her mind.
While mah-jong is just a game, it really has become a way for me to remember her. Sometimes I picture her sitting at the table with us, and many times I wonder how she might react at how poorly I am playing!
When we love someone, it bonds us for life. It’s why we want to do everything for our beloved while they are here, and also why it hurts so badly when our beloved is gone.
Now, whenever I see daisies, I think of Lilo. I think of her bright smile, her very full laugh, and the mischevious look in her eyes when someone is smiling back at her.
I love how even the smallest things can call our minds and hearts back to our beloved. And in a beautiful way, this is God reaching out to us: providing a line between heaven and earth to show us that we are still intimately connected, even if the physical connection is no longer possible.
This November, as the Holy Souls continue to pray for us, let us also remember to pray for them. Let’s also pray for those who have no one to pray for them—for we have the beautiful hope of being reunited with them, as well as the whole host of holy men and women, when God calls us back home.
Eternal rest, grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.
In Jesus Master,
PS: It must be because I’ve been thinking about grief and loss recently that I was re-introduced to the song “Glitter” by Patrick Droney. Despite what the title might denote, it is a song about grief that I first heard after I found out that a beloved professor of mine passed away last year.
It’s a sad song, so I won’t say it’s a jam—but it’s also profound and beautiful, and an apt metaphor for what grief is as well as the ‘party’ of life: “I think life's a party / Something you should celebrate // Some people leave early / And others get to stay.”