Sunday, May 12, 2013

"Clouds" Homily for the Ascension inspired by Zach Sobiech

"As he blessed them he parted from them
and was taken up to heaven."

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Zach Sobiech with Parents

When faced with months to live, how do you say goodbye?

Zach turned to music.

Zach can't stop writing lyrics, there are so many songs he wants to leave behind. With only months to live his song called "Clouds" was born.

"My name is Zach Sobiech, I'm 17 years old and I have osteosarcoma... I've been told I have only a few months to live, but I still have a lot of work to do. I want everyone to know, you don't have to find out your dying to start living. Most people live kind of in the middle like... "Oh, dream come true and you're dying."

For Zach both of them are true but he's living in hope. "It makes you happy in seeing someone else smile because you put it there."

Zach's mother describes the day they found out he had cancer. "When we found the cancer in his pelvis, I said, You know, maybe you should start writing some letters." She was encouraging him to say goodbye to people and to say the things he needs to say for closure. Zach found it difficult to do that but he began to di it in a way that was one of his greatest gifts. "Music is a way I can express myself without having to burden everyone else."

His mom recalls the discovery: "I was cleaning up downstairs and there was a lot of paper laying around with different scribbling on it and I picked one up and it was CLOUDS."

Sammy and Zach have been dear friends for many many years, their are songwriters.

Zach, who is so genuine and sincere, wants to be there for the ones he loves. "My closure is being able to get my feelings into theses songs so they can have something to remember me by or lean on when I was gone." His mother knows she will be leaning on these songs. "For me its Zachs way of saying I'm OK and saying Goodbye and I'm just so grateful that its there because I'm gonna to need it later."

Zach has written songs for his family, friends and loved ones. Zach's older brother tearing up says: "His music is kind of like a record of how much he cares for us." And his baby sister Grace shares "There's a song that he wrote me "For My Grace" so I'll keep that always with me, constantly. "I love you."

Zach was supposed to go on a date with his girlfriend Amy on the day he went for testing. When he found out it how serious it was the doctors wouldn't let him go. He was so disappointed not to be able to go on this picnic with Amy.

When Amy found out she asked her mother for advice and her mother said: "Would you date him if he didn't have cancer" and she said "Yeah."

Amy decided to suprise him with a picnic of her own later on. She had a picnic for him on the Minnesota Vikings field and as he walked in they saw a red checkered cloth in the middle of the field, a picnic basket, and on the billboard: "I love you Zach, I'll never let go. Amy" Zach remembers "I almost burst into tears just because it was so perfect."

Amy "We know what we both would want in our future, we know we would love each other just the same amount." We talked about getting married and having kids and our jobs and we do that a lot when we have bad days... so like when I start to cry... we'll sit down and plan it all out...

Zach, I kind of want four because you can have two boys and two girls because that's what we had in our family and it worked out pretty well.

It's kind of like one of those things that is your ultimate dream and most people ignore it... and mine obviously probably wont.

Amy "I think the moment I'm most scared about is leaving the hospital after he's gone and knowing that he's not coming with and having to walk out of there.

"I will actually love her to death, to my death, that's the thing it's like why not get married 'cause you know it's like till death to us part and I'm dying so you better get on this. I do love her to death and I will forever."

Zach begins to say his goodbyes...

"Mom and Dad... best parents that anyone could ever ask for, I could only wish that I could have kids and raise them like you raised me, because [big smile] you did one hell of a job, you're the best parents that anyone could ever ask for... [He wipes his eyes with Kleenex struggles to get it out] and I love both of you so much. And thank you for being my parents."

His Mother shares her new found perspective: "I think that's actually one of the blessings of cancer is that you actually come out of denial, and so in doing that things are better, you know that life is richer, everything means more, beauty is more beautiful, he's a beautiful person and I'm so happy to have been Zach Sobiech mom."

I want to be remembered as the kid who went down fighting and didn't really lose.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord. The Ascension is kind of like Jesus' last goodbye. After the Resurrection he appeared to his disciples for 40 days and now a cloud would lift him up and he would be taken out of there sight, but before doing so he gives them some final words of encouragement, he held his hands over them, and blessed them.

Moments of saying goodbye are often intensified by all the memories of the times shared. Things are said that maybe have never been said, the deepest sentiments are shared, healing takes place, affirmations of love are made, and often one last look at the person that you love to try to remember them by.

It's been said that there are five things that you should always say to someone who you are saying goodby to.

1) I love you
2) I'm sorry
3) I forgive you
4) Thank you
5) I will always remember you

Maybe you never had the opportunity to say these words to someon you loved. In prayer, because of our union with Christ and the Community of Saints, you can call them to mind. Imagine their face and speak these words to them: I love you, I'm sorry for anything I ever did that hurt you, I forgive you for anything you knowingly or unknowingly did or didn't do that hurt me, Thank you for all that you did do for me, and I will always remember you.

This can bring great healing in your life, because as we hear in the funeral rite "For those of us who believe life is changed, not ended." That means life is only different, we can still say those words, we can still hear the words that we have always needed to hear.

But, as Zach Sobiech pleads with us: "I want everyone to know, you don't have to find out your dying to start living." We don't have to wait until someone is dying to say these words.

You could say these words to your loved ones everytime you see them, every time you say goodbye... or just maybe, if you've never said them before... say them once. "I love you, I'm sorry, I forgive you, Thank you, and I will never forget who you are to me."

On this Solmnety of the Ascension of The Lord we celebrate and are encouraged by the Opening Prayer:

"Gladden us with holy joys, almighty God, and make us rejoice with devout thanksgiving, for the Ascension of Christ your Son is our exaltation, and, where the Head has gone before us in glory, the Body is called to follow in hope. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, One God Forever and Ever."
Zach Sobiech has the opportunity to say goodbye and it is a sacred time, but we don't have to wait until we die to say these words.

As our Lord Ascended into heaven, it was not to leave us behind or to seperate Himself from us, but to go before us and lead the way that we may follow in Hope.

As The Lord was taken up into the clouds, Zach realizes that soon he will be taken into Heaven... and though he is experienceing joy now and going "Up, up, up" into the Clouds, he is going to fly a little higher.

Well I fell down, down, down Into this dark and lonely hole There was no one there to care about me anymore And I needed a way to climb and grab a hold of the edge You were sitting there holding a rope

And we’ll go up, up, up But I’ll fly a little higher We’ll go up in the clouds because the view is a little nicer Up here my dear It won’t be long now, it won’t be long now

The truth is, it won't be long now for any of us, but we don't have to wait until we are dying to live. We can "fly a little higher" right now.

Find a way to say those five things to the people that you love: "I love you, I'm sorry, I forgive you, I thank you, and I will never forget you."

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.... Update....

(CNN) -- Zach Sobiech, 18, passed away this morning, surrounded by family and friends.


This post is part of the Fly a Little Higher Blog Tour which I am delighted to be a part of along with hundreds of bloggers raising awareness and giving hope to those with cancer. To learn more and join us, CLICK HERE!

Fly a Little Higher is written by Laura Sobiech, the mother of Zach Sobiech. Laura spent the last three years walking the road of cancer with her teenage son, Zach, and blogging about their battle with the disease. Zach wrote the song “Clouds” which hit #1 on iTunes the same week he passed away in May 2013.

Grab your copy HERE.

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