Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Healing the Wound

Lorraine Lee
For untold billions around the globe, the death of Osama bin Laden last week conjured up images of 9/11. Probably very few, if any, relived that day more vividly than New Yorker Patricia Reilly, whose 37-year-old sister, Lorraine Lee, died in Tower 2 of the World Trade Center, where she had worked.

Since May 2, Patricia has been interviewed by networks, blogs, and print media probing her reactions, memories, and feelings, as if to put a frame around her emotional profile. A mixture of grief and relief characterize her remarks; she struggles to find words to reassure her daughter, Lori, who was named for her aunt. How do you explain such a turn of events to an eight-year-old?

In talking with Patricia this week though, I heard a deeper story flow like an underground stream that has coursed through these past ten years and given life to her and others in unpredictable ways. Osama’s death “didn’t bring Lorraine back. There is no such thing as closure,” she says. But in the years following 9/11 “the blessing is that you do have happiness.” Her star gifts: Lori’s birth in 2003 and the family foundation named for Lorraine.

“Lori is named after her. So she feels so connected with her aunt, even though she didn’t know her. Lorraine sent her to us. Lori was new life in our family." (Patricia and her husband, Brian, also have two sons: Thomas, 22 and Michael, 24.) "Every person in our family has a deep connection with her. She gave new joy to my mother; she made her laugh and want to get up the morning.

Lori and Patricia
“She always wants me to tell her the story of her Aunt Lorraine. Sometimes I don’t want  to tell the story. I just love her and hug her and help her see that the world is a good place and that Lorraine is with God. And we’re going to see her again some day. Like her grandfather and uncle: They want to be with us, but they want to be with God more than they want to be with us. We will too.”

Kimberly Schuler, author of I Will Remember You, published in March by Pauline Books & Media, would applaud how Patricia is walking with Lori in this experience. The book assists children, ages 7-12, through the grieving process while helping them to honor the memory of their loved one.  It reassures them in their feelings of loss and provides a safe space where their hopes can be expressed and their memories can be treasured. Patricia adds, “Literature is important for families when everyone suffers.”

That family suffering is being transformed through the Lorraine Greene Lee Memorial Foundation, that her brother, Tommy, established also in 2003. Each year the family holds a golf outing and raises approximately $25,000. They then use the monies to fund projects that support life and faith, especially in young people. The St. Francis de Sales School for the Deaf, Trailblazers Camps, summer initiatives for inner city kids, and the Cross Road Foundation of Staten Island, that helps women in crisis bring their pregnancies to term, all flourish because Lorraine Lee, who never could have children of her own, gives them life.

Patricia learned about the film that the Daughters of St. Paul are producing on their founder, Blessed James Alberione. “We believe his story should be told,” she declared. “Media have progressed” in the ten years since the death of her sister, who “didn’t even have a cell phone.” In addition, Lorraine’s “faith and family were so important to her and guided her life, so [the film] would be something to support, so that other people can learn about him and grow in their faith, especially young people who may be struggling and looking for that connection.” This month the foundation intends to donate $1,000 toward the documentary in Lorraine’s memory. In turn, the film will list her name in the credits, along with others willing and able to contribute a similar amount on their own behalf or someone else’s. (Click here to donate.)

“Through her faith, I had a lot of faith after 9/11,” Patricia reflects. “[Lorraine] was devout. Every Tuesday she had adoration at 9:30 P.M. It would have been her turn that night. It gave me a lot of comfort knowing she was in the state of grace.” With a great sense of humor, Lorraine plunged into what she dubbed the “parades, parties, and picnics” of the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Knights of Columbus—she had been a Columbiette. Her husband hadn’t professed any faith for years, but “he said it was through her example of love and faith that he became a Catholic before her death. Now he’s a Eucharistic minister at Holy Child in Staten Island and teaches CCD.”

Last week President Obama met Patricia and other surviving family members at the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, NYC. “He hugged me. He was very genuine.” The next time she prays for Lorraine, he—and we—will be right there with her.

“...Nothing can fill the gap when we are away from those we love, and it would be wrong to try and find anything.  We must simply hold out and win through...leaving the gap unfilled preserves the bond between us.  It is nonsense to say that God fills the gap: God does not fill it, but keeps it empty so that our communion with one another may be kept alive, even at the cost of pain...the dearer and richer our memories, the more difficult the separation.  But gratitude converts the pangs of memory into a tranquil joy.”
                          --Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers From Prison, The Macmillan Company, 1967

“How merciful the Lord is with those who repent but there will always be the chance that we may not always be happy with the Lord forgiving and sparing our own enemies. Something we need to ask the Lord to help us with, sometimes every day.”
                                                                                                           --Kerry McMasters

“When the President noted that the military operation to take down Bin Laden had commenced at 3:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, that irony was not lost on me either: In many Catholic Churches, people were, at that exact hour, commemorating the Feast of Divine Mercy with the communal praying of the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Voices raised in chant-song, “For the sake of His sorrowful passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world!” Repeated ten times, these faithful implore the relentless Mercy of the Divine.”
                                                                                                             --Lisa Burke*
                                     * Originally published by Catholic Online here and reprinted with permission.

“Even though the event of 911 was horrific, we should not forget the outpouring of charity, altruism and love for neighbor that overshadowed the evil in the days and months after 911. Its hard to stay angry, unless you really want to - and love (NOT time) heals all wounds, if we let it.”
                                                                                                       --Kurtis D. Welton


We’re happy to report that, thanks to the generosity of you, our friends and donors, $4,280 was sent to our sisters in Japan to rebuild the Sendai community’s house and Pauline book and media center. The Sendai community already sent their thanks and promised prayers for all of you.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a convergence of real life events -- the death of Bin Laden and Lorraine's story and their commitment to the Alberione film. Only God could orchestrate the timing! When we think we make plans, we really are reminded that God writes our lives, giving us the opportunity to cooperate in the telling of our stories.


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