I feel called to share this excerpt from Miracle Man on the sixth anniversary of Bernie's death. I wrote this final "Bernie Update" to our family and friends days after his funeral on the Feast of St. Joseph. The Miracle Man taught me all about persevering love, and our journey together infused my being with Holy Hope… the hope that is borne of suffering and birthed through love. Bernard Joseph Klein, rest in peace.
March 22, 2009, Final Update
Bernard Joseph Klein was buried on the Feast of St. Joseph on Thursday, March 19, 2009. When we awoke, a dense fog covered the area, but by the time we arrived at Our Lady of the Lake Church, the sun had broken through, ushering in a glorious sunny day. It is difficult to share what is in my heart, but I would like to give you a glimpse of the day in Bernie's honor.
The funeral liturgy was absolutely beautiful, as we were graced with the angelic voices of Kitty Cleveland and the St. Scholastica Academy Choir under the direction of a most gifted pianist and friend, Sharon Scharmer. Fr. John Talamo, Fr. Beau Charbonnet and Fr. Robert Cavalier honored us by presiding over the liturgy, and their presence on the altar in gold robes made present to us Christ's priestly presence in heaven—sacred, redemptive, all-powerful. I have never been so happy to be Catholic as I was on Thursday. I stood in awe and wonder as I watched the rich symbolism of the funeral Mass unfold, reminding us of Bernie's baptismal vows, his presence at the heavenly banquet of the Lamb of God, his marriage to the Eternal Bridegroom. As sad a day as it was, it was equally joy filled thanks to the consolation of the hope of heaven, and the love of our family and friends—all tangible and very real to me as I stood in the church with the symbols of heaven before my eyes surrounded by people who love me, Bernie and our family.
When the funeral Mass ended, we processed to the cemetery of St. Joseph Abbey, where many of the monks and priests of our archdiocese are laid to rest. It is holy ground, full of silence, prayer and majestic oaks. As we drove up to Bernie's gravesite following the hearse, seven Marines stood at full attention waiting for his arrival. It took my breath away to see them standing there and to remember how proud Bernie was of serving in the Marine Corps—the place where he found his personal gifts and his identity as a man. A twenty-one-gun salute and "Taps" followed our prayers, along with the folding of the American flag accompanied by Kitty's gorgeous voice singing "Amazing Grace." It was a moment none of us will soon forget.
After the services concluded, we made our way to the home of our dear friends, Angele and Gary Darling. Gary is an incredible chef and he laid out a delicious banquet for us, including his famous Jamaican Jerk Chicken Salad and Mediterranean Hummus. We ate, laughed and cried as we remembered Bernie and his unique personality. A gentle wind blew through the French doors that were open throughout the house, and the Holy Spirit was very present as we shared a meal and fellowship in remembrance of Bernie. I returned home that evening with my heart full, feeling as though I had been to a wedding reception instead of a funeral. It was a happy ending to a day I had dreaded and prayed against for months —the funeral of my spouse.
As I write these words, my heart is full of gratitude for Bernie's love and life. I am grateful for his illness and for three months spent in a hospital room filled with tender moments of love and grace. I am grateful for the outpouring of support, love and prayer that came forth in the midst of such a profound personal tragedy. And I am grateful to God for his faithfulness, and for the reality that he continually seeks after us, wooing us with opportunities to know and embrace his Fatherly love. In the end, that was what this journey was all about—for Bernie and for me.
Thank you for your love and for carrying Bernie on the wings of prayer into the arms of Our Lord. I am eternally grateful, and I know he is too.
With love and thanksgiving.