Today is Ray's 42nd Birthday. We celebrated with Ray's family last night, going to a special mass and eating dinner at a restaurant together.
Five years ago we celebrated with Ray. We did a surprise party that year he was sick, inviting all of his friends to celebrate with him.
It's hard to believe that January will mark five years without him.
When I am with his family, Ray is all around us. No one is more like him than his family. The lightness of spirit, the love and care, are the way Ray marked the world. I always feel a special "home" when I am with them.
But the truth is that Ray continues to mark the world.
I was reflecting a few weeks ago on the path that our family has taken. As I have said many times -- no one chooses this path, it is not what you expect for your life, it is not what Ray expected from his.
However, I am often reminded of the homily where our pastor said that the translation of "my yoke is easy and my burden is light" is not light but well fitting. Well fitting.
Could it be that there are some people who live life in such a meaningful way that they can be remembered far after they are gone, continuing to mark our lives with their legacy??
Ray's nephew and Godson Patrick interned in Washington D.C. this summer in Ray's old office. He walked in Ray's footsteps, working for his boss, with his colleagues. While Patrick was there I was working on a letter about stomach cancer, asking the Illinois Congressional Delegation to sign on in support, in memory of Ray.
Five years is a long time, it's light years in politics and many of the old offices that actually worked with Ray are gone. New Members, new staff.
But the memory of Ray is not gone. As I know Patrick will attest, Ray's legacy is large.
Every single Member of the Illinois Delegation signed that letter. Every one. Every new office. Every old office. From every point in the political spectrum.
At the Ray Fitzgerald Lectureship last month, the room was filled. Filled with students, teachers, the Taylor University President. People who were listening to a message they would not have heard, if it had not been for Ray. If it had not been for Ray's example of love, his example of faith.
Oh that Ray had the opportunity to live the life that we all dream of, where we grow old, where we have the chance to do all the things we hoped to do.
But Ray's life lives on.
The people he touched will not forget.
The legacy that he lived, the beauty of his life, it just doesn't end.
Oh I am so grateful to all that remember Ray on this day. Those that help to carry his legacy. Those that tell the story of his life and the story of his death.
Ray, your legacy is well fitting.
not alone and not afraid --
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11: 29-30