I know it is late and although I’ve been battling headaches again and I should be sleeping, I just felt unsettled enough that I didn’t think I’d be able to sleep anyways so decided to update those of you who may still check out this site about a few inspiring things that have happened in the week since his memorial. And I wanted to also let you know that I want to continue a site for him to post ways in which God continues to keep Joshua’s passions and desires alive, I’m assuming through those of us whose lives he touched and to whom God gives similar passion to carry on different aspects of his work. I have talked with and heard from several of you of possible ideas, so I would like to keep those of you who are interested abreast of what’s happening. Naomi suggested we just keep his site: joshuacasteel.com for simplicity sake. So that is what we’ll do. I’m not sure just how we’ll set it up but that will come in time. So stay tuned.
I just wanted to pass on a couple of really encouraging things that happened this week. I got a letter from Dorothy Day’s granddaughter, Martha Hennessy, I hope I got that spelling correct. She works for the Catholic Worker House in New York City. For those of you who are not Catholic, Dorothy Day is a quite famous or well known woman in the Catholic world, as she started the whole Catholic Worker House movement in the US. She wrote me a very nice letter of condolences as well as praising Joshua for his work, especially in the peace movement. But one very interesting fact that was noted in her letter was exceptionally helpful to me. She stated that August 25th, the day that Joshua passed away, was Dorothy Day’s birthday. Since I have been struggling to some degree with the time and place of his passing, somehow that fact really eased my frustrations and gave meaning in a positive way to the exact day that he died. I can imagine her welcoming him along with his dad and somehow it just doesn’t seem to be random or unplanned by God. Whatever the reason, it has been very helpful to us to know that fact.
Also, I finished reading a book I picked up at the airport on the way home from NY, believe it or not, entitled ‘To Heaven and Back’ by Dr. Mary Neal. I’m so shocked that I have been able to read but it has been a source of real comfort and the Lord has spoken to me through it several times. She drowned in a kayaking accident and was under water for a minimum of 45 minutes and in that time she had an experience with angels and with Jesus who ultimately tells her it’s not her time yet and that she needs to come back to earth. Very interesting book and she has many other experiences that are quite miraculous and also very difficult. One of those is losing her oldest son at the age of 19. Of course I identified, but he was a person whom she described to be very much like Joshua and there was much to be gained and shared within the pages of her story. I actually e-mailed her and am hoping to hear back from her. It was one real highlight of my week.
But God has been faithful and has provided someone to spend some time each day this week with me and we even were able to clean the entire house (which hadn’t been touched since June). I was also able to reduce stacks and stacks of mail and business things down to one file folder…this equals a very good feeling of ‘some’ control and organization in my life. And just spending time with friends has been so helpful. Each day is hard and stands alone in how it goes, so having that support has been vital. Being alone in the house for long periods is very difficult. So I’m very thankful. I’ve also continued to receive cards, texts, and phone calls and had my lawn mowed, all of which has really helped to lift my spirits. Just more expressions of love to help heap balm on an aching heart.
What I have found to be the hardest is dealing with the reality and memories of all of Joshua’s suffering. But what God is showing me is that was and is a central part of His plan for him. I believe Joshua knew this, but as his mother, watching it and being with him right up to the end was the hardest thing I have ever had to do and probably will always be. Like Mary, only a mother can know the depth of anguish at seeing your son suffer, even if courageously. I am trying to allow God to use it all to give me the love and compassion that flowed from her heart.
But when I put together and reflect on his life as a whole, what he went through seems to make more sense and it is accepting this reality and looking and hoping for redemption of his suffering to take place somehow, sometime, somewhere in the future that gives me hope and keeps me sane. This grounds me and gives me hope and strength to go on…though missing him like crazy. He was just so enjoyable, fun, encouraging, interesting and spiritually and intellectually deep…there’s just so much to miss. As Bishop Gumbleton, a former recipient of the Bishop Dingman Award that Joshua received this year, stated in a very thoughtful letter to me, “when I was around him I just felt happier, peaceful, grounded.” He spoke the words I think many of us felt and as his mother, those qualities added to a deep love and soul connection makes for a terrible ache in my heart and soul. Only God can soothe such a loss. And I have to say that He is being very faithful so far. I’ve made it through a whole week and I know that’s a real accomplishment for now.
Also, for those of you who wanted to attend his memorial but couldn’t for one reason or another I thought I would post Father David O’Connor’s homily which we all felt beautifully portrayed and honored Joshua and all that he held dear. I hope you are blessed by it as we were. (It will come in a separate posting as I need help from Naomi to do it correctly).
My prayers are with you all as I know each of you are grieving in your own way and to the degree that you knew Joshua and was touched by his life…as he was by yours.
With Love and gratitude for the blessings we all shared together throughout this journey,