Written by Sister Jan Kilian, this blog will give an understanding of what it’s like to be Franciscan. Living out the spirit of Saint Francis, we see all God’s creation as brother and sister. We, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, are committed to building relationships and community, ministering wherever there is greatest need, promoting justice and healing Mother Earth’s wounds. My writings will give a glimpse of the compassion, spirituality, interconnectedness and goodness of living Franciscan.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The early visit of Sister Death to Braelyn

by Sister Cordy Korkowski

Last night was a very difficult night for me. It was the wake/funeral service for Braelyn Osborne. Braelyn, 17 years of age and a junior at Hutchinson High School died in her sleep of complications from diabetes on May 9, 2009, a day before Mother’s Day. It was a disease that Braelyn struggled with for 10 years. Brandi called and asked if I would do the service at a Columbia Heights funeral home. I was honored to be asked, but wondered how I could do this, amidst so much family grief along with my own as well.

I first met Braelyn and her mother Brandi about three years ago when our family camped together at Two Inlets north of Park Rapids. My nephew Troy introduced our family to his new bride, Brandi and her two children, Braelyn and Morgan. I remember how delightful and happy they were with energy, lots of pep and personality. They all entered into the relaxation and festivity of the weekend with great enthusiasm. I also was aware that Braelyn could never lose awareness of her disease amidst all the food choices present for the weekend. I knew her story.
To hear the news of her death was shocking. How would I make the mental switch, that we are now entering into her farewelling into eternal life. I started to work on the prayer service and it all came together. I knew I would use Psalm 23, the Gospel of Mark where Jesus embraces the children, some storytelling, special prayers and a blessing for Braelyn. I also prepared a reflection on Braelyn’s life.

The funeral home was crowded with students, many of whom had brought pictures and messages of farewell and love. They came early to the funeral home to decorate the space and spend time with the family as did parents, grandparents, family members and friends of Braelyn. Throughout the three hours, there was a steady and strong stream of family and friends that filled the space with consolation. We prayed, laughed and cried, visited, spent time being together with family and friends.

The family was deeply appreciative of the service, and I was equally touched by their love and gratitude. As we returned to the home of Brandi’s mother for a large buffet meal, my heart was at peace. Braelyn is now home with God, and all of us learned again the fragility of life, and that Sister Death can appear at any moment and quietly take us home. What was so difficult to do, came together with the support of a multitude of people who were touched by the life of Braelyn Osborne.

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