Alone and Suffering

Yesterday, I experienced a new version of what it means to be alone. It was horrible. I particpated in the funeral of one of my best friend’s from high school.

With my friend’s sister standing shaking next to me, we stood alone looking at Tony’s open casket. The Ukrainian Orthodox Priest chanted mystical prayers and waved incense. Tony was only a young 62. The room was so big and we were so alone.

Thankfully, eight members of Tony’s church choir stood there at the mass joining the chants and songs of the priest. Today, the Church was his family and friends combined. I was deeply sad that there were so few attending.. Stark aloneness. Pitiful.

Later,we stood alone at the grave as his coffin was lowered into the earth.

I offered prayers of thanksgiving for the church, and the priest and the choir members that were there being family for the homecoming celebration and Christian Mass of the Resurrection.

My friend Tony and I had experienced a great  four years in high school. That was way back in 1962-1966. We grew up in Chicago. Over the years a annual phone call bridged the distance and communication gap and brought us back together for a few moments of happy reminiscing. Lately now, acute diabetes ravaged his poor suffering body with no mercy.  Tony was alone to suffer. Tony was alone to die.

Looking back 25 years or more, I recall carrying his mom and dad’s casket to the cemetery as a pall bearer. What an honor. Now, I did the same. Friends do that service, tearfully on a mission.

I write this blog as a way of praying for Tony and his sister. I want them to never have to be so alone. Where were the friends and neighbors? What happened along the way that Tony became so isolated? Tony was a good and kind person, gregarious, and fun loving. How did he become so alone? His sister assured me, “Tony was just shy.”

I conclude this tribute to Tony praying a re-dedication to the mission of Stauros USA–

1) No one should ever suffer alone,–

2) No one should suffer without access to resources that might help in bring hope and meaning to difficult circumstances.

May God continue to guide and inspire Stauros. May we serve all with compassion and be Seeds of Light for all.

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