Rejoicing For Joyce

When I awoke Saturday morning, I was sad from a dream about losing my father and sister. A migraine was there to greet me. I didn’t expect it to go away even with medication. I wanted to sleep it off but realized it might just be oversleeping that caused it.

Soon enough, we got news that the elderly lady from Agnes’ church whom we visited a few weeks ago was on her last few hours in the hospital. Her family had decided to pull the plug sometime that afternoon. We’d been praying for a miracle and it was not to be the miracle we were expecting.

I took a bath to ease the pain in my right temple. And quickly realized I was wasting time. My wife wanted and needed to get to the hospital. Even if the family would not let church members in during the preceding days. I found Agnes ironing clothes. In tears. I told her to get dressed. I was driving her.

By the time we were about to leave however, our next-door Filipino neighbor was offering us some chicken adobo she had cooked. And we couldn’t refuse. Another few minutes gone. Agnes was in the car already, waiting for me, the phone in her lap. The call had come. Mrs. Joyce Tesseneer… Mother T… had passed away and gone on to be with the Lord at 12:19 PM.

Saying Goodbye Where the Earth Meets Sky

I drove anyway. We had to go somewhere right. Somewhere where we could say goodbye. That’s what was going through my brain despite the migraine as I drove to Lake Chabot park. We walked to a spot on the lakeside near enough to the water and far enough away from the road to be private. And we prayed. We thanked God for Mother T — for having blessed our lives with her presence. We prayed together facing the open waters, sure that she was with her Savior.

There were honking ducks. And fishermen nearby. And the wind was cold and chilling.

My sweat ran cold. I was close to collapsing from weakness and head ache. I asked Agnes to drive home, and it was one of the longest rides ever. Because I was suppressing the need to vomit. By the time we got back, the vomit came violently. Painful jerks from the gut. I slept it off, grateful for the warmth.

By the grace of God and by my wife’s timely awakening, I got to my 4:30 PM anticipated mass at St. Joachim’s with a lot less of the headache, and plunked through the songs I hadn’t practiced.

The Mass readings seemed to be speaking to my heart. The first reading (Isaiah 55:6-9) went: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD.” And the second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians (Phil 1:20-24, 27) contained: “For to me life is Christ, and death is gain.”

By the time the offertory song rolled in, I was caught up in emotion. The song went: “Come, come unto me. / I will make you a jewel. / Precious and rare the glory you’ll bear /in the crown of God.”

She is free from the sickness and pain of her earthly body and is rejoicing in the Lord. And though we will miss her joy and her friendship now, we look forward to seeing her again on the last day.

Eternal rest grant unto Joyce. O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of the faithfully departed rest in peace.

Lionel's signature


6 thoughts on “Rejoicing For Joyce

  1. Thank you for your beautiful testimony of Mrs Tesseneer. I knew her as the mother of my best friend in grade school, a wedding cake decorater who always managed to have “broken” frosting flowers for us to eat, a mom who always had room and time for her kid’s friends.


  2. Dear Lionel:

    As a fellow migraine sufferer, I completely identify with both the waves of nausea and the brittle emotions that come with this particular malady. Especially in times of great stress (such as when you’re actually in the throes of these awful headaches), it’s important to respond to your bodily needs. Especially sleep, and eating properly. (No citrus, aged cheese or meat, shellfish, or red wine).

    Your testimony of this “extraordinary mom” was so touching … I plan to link to it at EMN. Thanks for sharing it!

    Heidi Saxton


  3. I loved Joyce and have lost track of her…I’m so sorry to hear of her loss. If you have any information about how I could reach her family, I would be grateful for it. Thank you.

    Keren Colsten


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