small pieces of joy

pieces of joy in each day


divine mercysource

a reflection on our memorial service on the one year anniversary of Dad’s passing. 

Last week at this time I was in Chicago waiting to take a train back to South Bend from my quick trip to KC. It is hard to put into words how the weekend was, but I know it was exactly what needed to happen.

Friday evening we gathered at the cemetery with a few family members and friends to pray and remember the life of my dearly missed father. It was a beautiful night with a slight breeze and colorful sky. Around the gravesite we stood, some sitting in lawn chairs or on blankets, all with thoughts of Dad in our minds.

We began by praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet, which was the prayer we prayed only minutes before Dad took his last breath. This prayer brought us so much peace in that moment, and ever since. Knowing that Jesus greeted Dad as the Merciful Savior makes me so thankful that we were able to help give Dad a holy death, which I didn’t think existed.

We sang the Salve Regina, which is a prayer that is so close to my heart. It is often sung at the end of the day, right before going to sleep. How perfect that it was a prayer we prayed before Dad fell asleep in this life and awoke again in Heaven.

Following the prayers we sang the song “Hymn Song” by Utah Phillips. That song has become our family’s theme song throughout our journey with Dad and it will always remind me of him and his love for his family. I believe if I lived my life again I’d still be here with you.

During all of this I was feeling a wave of peace sweep over me. As I knelt next to Dad’s grave I didn’t really feel like crying. I just felt comfortable there, knowing that Dad was with us and proud of the memorial we were giving him.

To leave on a happier note, we sang and danced to one of Dad’s favorite camp songs, ‘Alice the Camel’. I’m pretty sure the people driving down the road next to the cemetery had to do a double take when they saw us dancing! It was a perfect end to our tribute to Dad. A nice balance of serious and fun!

It was so wonderful to get hugs from friends and family who have been supporting us throughout the journey. Talking with people and feeling their love for us and Dad was just the medicine I needed. I am hopeful that the memorial was a helpful tool for those who came, because it definitely was for me.

My hope is that this can be a ritual we do each year, whether we are all together or not. The great thing about prayer and song is that you can be united no matter where you are physically. I know there were many who were unable to be there with us last Friday, but were praying and singing along.

Especially Dad.


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A small thing from the weekend: unexpected comfort

My husband took me on a getaway this past weekend. He arranged for the place and babysitter, and that is all I knew.

We ended up in a cabin in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee with two friends for the long Easter holiday.

I would love to share the whole trip, but I really just want to highlight one thing.

Our first morning there I took my coffee and journal out to the patio to read and soak up all the mountainous glory.


I could picture Dad sitting next to me, taking it all in. He would love this place.

As I reflected I was reminded of my penance from confession a few weeks ago. The priest told me to allow myself to listen to what God wanted to tell me.

“Speak Lord, Your servant is listening.”

The whole day was spent visiting a section of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We came across many old cabins, churches, and graveyards. At first it was a little strange being a tourist in a graveyard, but as I read through some of the grave markers, I started to notice the quotes that were on them.

I took a picture of a few at the first graveyard and didn’t think much of it. Then as we stopped at more, the pictures kept coming. And after I read this one, I knew what was happening.


“As you hold me close in memory although we are apart, my spirit will live on there within your heart. I am with you always.”

I was finally listening.


“Mother is gone but not forgotten, she is resting in the arms of Jesus, waiting for her loved ones to come.”

Dad will always be with me. He will not be forgotten. God is taking care of him as he waits for his family to join him.

Words of comfort from God to me in the beauty of the Smoky Mountains.


What words of comfort did you hear recently? Please share. We all need a little comfort these days.

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