What is so special about 365 days? What is so special about a specific square on a certain page of a calendar? Why should any one particular date carry more weight than another?
These are the questions I’ve been pondering as the calendar marched relentlessly towards the one year point since my Pastor passed away. The first few weeks (months, maybe?) were unspeakably hard. I could barely enter the church without tears. And even if I made it through the door, and the first few songs, and the sermon; the tears would roll relentlessly as I took communion. My faith community acknowledged and embraced its collective grief. And I’d been there long enough to be comfortable breaking into the ugly cry in the immediate weeks and months following her death. And there were people in my midst, some I knew well, others not so much; who would hold my hand. Or hug me. Or hand me a tissue.
And gradually, it got easier. To walk into the building. To sing the songs. To partake of the bread and wine. We reluctantly found a new normal.
The one year mark, though, feels like ripping the scab off of a healing wound. Like poking at something better off left alone.
It’s painful. It will undoubtedly result in scar tissue.
There is admittedly a part of me asking the questions:
If there were no calendar, would these days feel so heavy?
If the church bulletin hadn’t been reminding me of this upcoming anniversary, would it not have been easier to move forward?
Is there no better word for referring to this horrible thing than ‘anniversary?”!!!
I know, though, that I am a human being. And I’m one who experiences seasons and memories and ebbs and flows.
So even if the church bulletin and calendar hadn’t mentioned it, my bones would’ve remembered the grief they felt the last time summer was moving to fall. A few weeks ago, when I was walking past the pub I’d been sitting in when I received the call saying she’d had a heart attack; my body would have remembered the trauma of receiving that information. Even sans calendar or church bulletin, my mind and body would never have let me forget.
And so, I’m once again shedding tears. I’m once again angry this happened. On a mom level, I’m beyond pissed off that she won’t be laying hands on Elise when she affirms her baptism in a few weeks. On a human level; I’m so, so saddened she wasn’t at the bus stop with her twins today as they headed off to kindergarten. And on a personal level, I feel very cheated to have not had her listening ear as my family has dealt with various tribulations over the past year.
And yet, there is gratitude. That I ever even got to sit in the same room with her. That she planted the seeds of ‘Beloved Community’ at ECLC. That both of my kids had the opportunity to experience confirmation education with her. That I got to share a room with her as we accompanied ECLC youth on a pilgrimage to El Salvador. That I was privileged enough to hear her tell me: You are enough. Take off your mask. I love you. ECLC loves you. No matter what! God loves you.
There’s no great way to wrap this up. This shitty thing happened. It’s been a year. I know we’re all going to be ok, but I’m still pissed it occurred. And I’m sad. And I miss my Pastor, my friend. I miss her truth telling. I miss her love, her guidance. And I miss having her here to tell me that all these emotions are known and loved and accepted by God. Not that I don’t still have people telling me as much, but I simply want it to be HER telling me.