Saturday, April 11, 2009

Carrie Tomko: A Lamentation

Bitterly she weeps in the night,
    tears run down her cheeks;
    she has none
    to bring her comfort
    among all that love her.
All her friends turned traitor
    and became her enemies.

Carrie Tomko passed away last Monday, following a long battle with cancer.

Carrie was the author of a little-known Catholic blog Still Running Off at the Keyboard. Very much a traditionalist at heart, there was a bit of original thinking to her writings, much of which I found in my inbox. You see, she was better known to some of us in the Catholic blogosphere as a commenter and correspondent. Her wit had an edge to it, her cynicism a ray of hope.

Judah went into the misery
    of exile and endless servitude.
Settled among the nations,
    she found no resting place.
All her persecutors fall upon her
    in her sore straits.

When we first learned of her struggle two years ago, some of us observed a deep melancholy that had pervaded her life, as was manifest in her writings on the state of the Church in our times. This is not uncommon. I was a sophomore in high school when I learned that my father had multiple sclerosis. In the several years that followed, he went from struggling to accept his limitations, to anger and despair, to quiet resignation. It also took its toll on my mother, who over the course of that period, had to face the prospect of a twilight in their years together, one that would be quite different than that for which she had hoped. It is only through grace and perseverance that they have prevailed.

The paths of Zion mourn,
    for none attend her sacred feasts:
All her gates are desolate.
Her priests groan and sigh;
    her virgins are cruelly treated!
How bitter is her fate!

Such grace was consolation for Carrie, as in her last blog entry, she wrote: “I was in the hospital four days and am now at home and going for radiation treatments on my brain every day; a brain that does not function normally yet, making blogging nearly impossible... Thank you for all the prayers. I'm grateful and I pray God's blessings on all who pray for me.”

Her adversaries have become her masters,
    her enemies take their ease.
For the Lord has cruelly punished her
    because of her misdeeds without number.
Her young have gone;
    driven away captive by the enemy!

We must become the good we expect in the world, and in the Church as well. As a communion of souls on our way to Heaven, we occasionally pause to lift up the fallen, and their spirits as well, that they may press on. We would wish the same for ourselves. It is in that spirit that we remember our sister Carrie, as we anticipate our remembrance of the Resurrection.

As she, by the grace of God, awaits her own.

Jerusalem! Jerusalem!
Turn back to the Lord, your God!

[VIDEO: Orlando de Lassus (aka Roland de Lassus, or Roland Delattre) (1532?-1594) was a Franco-Flemish composer of late Renaissance music. Along with Palestrina, he is considered the co-architect of the polyphonic style that grew out of the early musical tradition of the Church. He was the most famous and influential musician in Europe at the end of the 16th century.]


Anonymous said...

Thank you for such a poignant and beautifully written tribute to Carrie. You have done justice to her life and work.


christopher said...

Thanks. Beautifully put, as well as could ever be said. It's interesting to see the different people affected by Carrie.