Honor, Angels, and Memorials

Research tells us that there are far more people in our country who believe in Angels than people who believe in God. I believe in both. While I see only the evidence of my Higher Power’s work, I have lived long enough and well enough to have met a lot of Angels. My life has been forever altered because I got to know a few of them.

They are usually women and their presence is extraordinary. You feel better just being near them. Even when no words are exchanged you know that they are thinking of you. They know how you feel and they give empathy and love. All of this happens without words. When conversation occurs, their words are beautifully tattooed on your soul.

Effortlessly they understand us. With patience and tolerance that can come only through a Higher Power, they listen – really listen. It is not they who come to understand us through these talks. It is we. Miraculously we see ourselves through their eyes and the reflection is beautiful. We rail against this because it cannot be. We assume that they do not grasp the wretch we truly are and so we tell them again and again and again how terrible we are and they just see through us and smile. They love us as their own children and claim us as their own. In this way, we take great strides towards knowing who we truly are.

The Recovery Community of Greater Bangor lost an Angel recently. I regret that I did not know her well. I enjoyed meeting her and being in her presence a few times. I feel as though I know her (I cannot write “knew” because her legacy lives on). I have listened to at least a hundred stories from the lives of the dozens I have served who were far more greatly served by her.

This Angel…what she did most…was she loved those who saw themselves as unlovable. Can there be any greater calling?

She surrounded herself with amazing women. She referred to them as “Princesses” and she treated them as though they truly were. She made herself constantly available to those with insatiable needs. She held them every time they needed to just hurt and cry. She believed in those who were emotionally and spiritually bankrupt. She taught us to have faith in ourselves and she stood as a testament that there is a Higher Power and It loves us unconditionally.

She was the mother every one of us wanted. Her sons and her daughters are legion. How shall we honor those we love when they go before us? Quite simply. We must live our lives as they would want us to: Happy, Joyous, and Free. We must continue to seek Serenity, Courage, and Wisdom. Above all we must love each other as they taught us to love. We must seek out the wounded and facilitate their healing and we must know that only with opening ourselves to the Grace of a Higher Power that this is possible.

In the short term we grieve what we have lost. There is a profound emptiness and a gut wrenching sadness that is left. We offer our condolences and great sympathy to her family – biological and otherwise. We reflect on the good times and the lessons taught to us. Eventually we even laugh. I smile as I write this, recalling an image I hold in my heart of her.

This angel, despite being of immense fortitude was small of physical stature. I watched her once become lost in the embrace of an enormous man. At the time I marveled that she would do this for I thought poorly of him. Never have I been so wrong in my estimation of a man. I missed it by a mile. Everything about his demeanor suggested that I should stay the hell away from him and so I did. Today I know him to be an immensely sensitive and beautiful man. She saw so readily what I could have seen but lacked patience and tolerance to perceive. She saw who he was before anyone – especially himself. This is how she was.

This Memorial Day we gather to honor and celebrate the lives of loved ones who have gone before us. If we hold pain we must grieve and share our pain with others. To endure this pain alone is to suffer and this is not what our loved ones would have for us. To those who live with guilt, I say – it’s time to forgive yourself. It is time for healing, and learning and growing.

I have taken liberty in writing of this Angel. It is my hope that my tribute to her conveys the enormous respect and admiration I hold not only for her but for the amazing legacy she has left. I pray for all of you who love her.

The bud
stands for all things,
even for those things that don’t flower,
for everything flowers, from within, of self-blessing;
though sometimes it is necessary
to reteach a thing its loveliness
to put a hand on the brow
of the flower,
and retell it in words and in touch,
it is lovely
until it flowers again from within, of self blessing…

from Galway Kinnell’s “Saint Francis and the Sow”

Jim LaPierre

About Jim LaPierre

Jim LaPierre LCSW CCS is the Executive Director of Higher Ground Services in Brewer, Maine. He is a Recovery Ally, mental health therapist and addictions counselor. He specializes in facilitating recovery (whether from addiction, trauma, depression, anxiety, or past abuse) overcome obstacles, and improve their quality of life. Jim offers a limited amount of online therapy to those with very flexible schedules.