Today would have been my sister-in-law's 62nd birthday. She died in a car accident a number of years ago, and not a day goes by that I don't miss her - fiercely.
Her name was Regina, which was a rather courtly name for a humble person, but it fit her. She and my brother started dating when I was three and married when I was five (my brother is 16 years older than I am), so Regina was always a part of my life.
Regina taught me a lot of things - probably enough to write about her for months. Today at Mass, I was thinking about all the things she taught me, and what was most valuable to me. I really can't pinpoint just one thing, but Regina had one amazing ability that I constantly pray I can emulate.
The Church teaches us that one thing we are supposed to do is "admonish the sinner" - that is, point out to our brothers and sisters where they are erring in their lives, and point them in the right direction (and pray they do the same for us). This is an incredibly hard thing to do: no one wants to have their sins pointed out to them! "How dare you? You are a sinner, too! Who are you to point that out?"
Regina was able to do this though, in the most loving way, and - I swear this is true - people actually were happy after talking to her. Really. They would get up from a conversation with her thinking, "I am going to do better. I CAN do better." I've actually analyzed how she did this, and I still am not really sure, but I know two things: Regina loved Christ, and she wanted others to know His love. Everything she did came from that.
So, today, my birthday present to her was to pray for her at Mass, ask her to pray for me, and to love Christ enough to lead others to Him.