Michelle Martin

We are tired

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

We are tired of death.

That’s what Father Esequiel Sánchez, rector of the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Des Plaines, said in his homily at the Feb. 10 funeral of a mother and four young daughters who died in a house fire Jan. 27.

After a year that has seen more than 470,000 people in the United States die from a disease that we were just learning the name of last February, after a year in which the rituals around even non-COVID-19 deaths are warped and strained by pandemic protocols, we are so, so tired of death.

Every day, it seems, brings word of another celebrity death. The obituary section of this newspaper has been larger than usual for months. And still, people die.

That hit home to me when one of my aunts, someone who was always there to support me, was always on my side, died the same week that the Espinosa family mourned its unimaginable loss.

I am so tired of death.

Death, we know, comes for us all in the end. It’s part of the cycle of life here on earth, that everything that is alive one day will die. It’s there in the reading from Ecclesiastes: “There is an appointed time for everything, and a time for every affair under the heavens. A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot the plant” (Eccl 3:1-2).

Of course, that’s not the end of our story, not our story as individuals or our story as a church. Jesus came to save, to triumph over death and to lead us all into eternal life.

Because Jesus lived, died and was resurrected, we can talk about the communion of the saints, about the relationship we have with those who have gone before. We can pray for them, and ask them to pray for us, and know that the love we shared with them when they were with us here has not died.

God has promised us that there is more than this world, where our lives inevitably end in death, Sánchez told the Espinosa family.

That can be hard to remember when death is so much with us, in the news, in our neighborhoods and in our families, just as it can be hard to remember than spring is coming when the garage door is frozen shut and the snowman we made has been buried under another six inches of snow and ice.

But the sun is rising earlier and setting later every day, and Ash Wednesday was this past week. That starts the season of Lent, a word whose origins go back to the Old English for “springtime.”

That means that under the snow and the ice, where we can’t see them, the bulbs are probably growing, sending roots deeper into the soil and leaves starting toward the surface, ready to poke through when there is a thaw, maybe even ready to bloom around the time we celebrate Easter, the feast of the Resurrection.

In the meantime, there are the two things Benjamin Franklin said were certain in this world: death and taxes.



  • lent
  • family life
  • covid-19