A couple of years ago, my mother and I were sharing lunch at a Mexican restaurant in Southport when we heard the news that John Paul II had passed on from his earthly life.
When Shelby was born last summer, I purchased a John Paul (or Juan Paolo II) candle for her in the ethnic foods aisle of a grocery store.
And now, we proudly share the loveliness of John Paul II for all to know the man that so many of us felt might be pope for quite a long time and was.
After his death, I read an interview with Billy Graham where he mourned the passing of JPII whom he considered a close friend despite doctrinal differences. He also felt that one of the pope's greatest gifts to humanity was showing us how to suffer and how to die. I remember this interview with great affection and think of how right Reverend Graham was. Of all the things the Pope taught, the acceptance of God's will at the end of life and the embrace of the "life of the world to come" was one of the most amazing.