One of my online friends, in an e-mail after my mom died, advised me to expect that Easter this year would feel different for me, and probably not in a good way.
And she was right.
After several days of "near normal," today was rough...really rough. It began when I overslept -- I'd set my alarm incorrectly -- and missed the early Easter service and brunch I'd wanted to attend, so I began the day grumpy and self-critical. I couldn't find anything I wanted to wear. I had a headache. And yesterday I'd gotten a call from the funeral home letting me know that my mother's ashes and death certificates had arrived, so percolating in the back of my mind was the knowledge that on Monday I'm going to have to deal with these things, and arrange for interment. (And while I know that the non-physical things that made my mother my mother are not in the little box from the crematorium, it's still disconcerting, on some atavistic level, to think about what's inside, and to have the little box sitting in the house until we can bury it in the family plot. I have a second cousin who keeps her husband's ashes in an urn above the fireplace, but that level of postmortem togetherness is a just little too much for me.)
So that was my mood when I got to church. But I had it together. I was very Zen about it and simply acknowledged my feelings: "I am feeling sad. I am feeling irritated with myself. My head hurts."
I sat in the usual LutheranChik household spot, third row from the front, next to the window. (One of the elder saints of our church, who before going into an adult foster care home was a regular pewmate of my mother and me, once wryly observed, "We're all just like cows in a barn, all going into the same stanchions." ) Shortly thereafter an unfamiliar extended family sat next to me. And at that point I suddenly felt so alone and isolated that the tears just poured out of my eyes, as fast as I could sop them up. It wasn't so much that I was missing my mother's presence -- since she died I've been to three services and haven't had that strong reaction -- but that I just didn't have anybody there with me...here in the midst of all these couples and rows of extended relatives. For some reason it just got to me today.
[Tangential rant: As God is my witness, the next time some sanctimonious married heterosexual tells me with a straight -- pardon the pun -- face that I should embrace my singlehood without complaint, because of course nothing could be worse than an intimate relationship with someone of the same gender, I will not be responsible for anything that I say or do. Intimacy isn't just about physical intimacy. It's about having a life partner you care about, who cares about you, with whom to share your life, the good parts and the bad parts and the sad parts, like losing a parent. To suggest that the admittedly good, and kind, but somewhat removed support one gets from one's wider circle of friends is the same kind of support that one gets from a committed partner is ridiculous, and insulting -- it's also insulting to your own partner, by the way. (I once had a Holy Person point out to me that I have a dog to keep me company. So evidently at her house it's spouse, dog, potato, potahto, whatever. Or else she was lapsing into Freudian slippage vis-a-vis the fundie proposition that being gay is morally equivalent to boinking family pets and farm animals -- you know, the ol', God jist luuuvs yew soooooo much, lahk he luuuvs murderers an' rapists an' pedophiles an' that afflicted gentleman down the road who bothered the neighbor's sheep 'til the sheriff arrested him, if yew'd jist repent of yer abominable perversion and ask Jaysus to come into yer heart... If the only Jesus I ever met was in the guise of people like this, I'd say, "You've got to be kidding.") So if you are one of the sanctimonious homophobes (and that is what you are -- a homophobe), don't even -- do not even -- talk to me about how swell a single life is. If it's so frigging wonderful, why are you married? Do you know how absurd you sound? Evidently not. Well, now you do. So maybe think twice, or three times, before sharing your relationship widsome with gay folks who -- I know you don't want to believe this, but it's true -- desire the same things in their relationship that you desire in yours. /rant]
To make it worse, we had our usual pre-service sing-along, which always energizes the little kids, and all the cacaphony and dancing and arm-waving just made it worse for me. Makeitstopmakeitstopmakeitstop. And then I felt guilty for feeling bad. It's Easter. Stop being a bad sport and spoiling it for other people.
So I sucked it in, and thank God the liturgy finally began and I could concentrate on that. And we sang all the old Easter chestnuts, so I got very involved in the hymns, especially because the people around me weren't singing very enthusiastically. I don't even much remember the sermon, just the hymns; they were what kept me going.
And then it was over. I didn't linger; I was feeling, on one hand, too sad, and on the other too claustrophobic, with the crush of people trying to leave the sanctuary.
Somewhere between getting in my car and arriving home, I self-talked my way into bucking up for the rest of the day. So that is what I did. Yesterday I'd splurged on a couple of lamb chops, so I grilled them with garlic and rosemary and olive oil. (There's something sadly ironic about eating lamb on Easter -- at least it's ironic for the lamb -- but they were really good lamb chops.) I made baby carrots and string beans and a baked potato. I poured myself a glass of shiraz. I got out my turbocharged 88-percent-cocoa dark chocolate that I usually ration out to myself two squares at a time, and instead ate half a bar to get my endorphins carbonating. This gustatory therapy got me to a place where I actually looked forward to visiting my aunt in the nursing home -- I brought flowers and a dozen milk chocolate eggs, and we had a pleasant chat, talking about the highlights of Mom's memorial service.
Then I came home and crashed. I have a very good PBS special on DVD, The Face: Jesus in Art, that I watched on and off, between dozing.
Obviously I'm up and about now, but I'm utterly exhausted. I may just have to take part of the day off tomorrow.
The Cliff Notes version of this post: I had a Not Very Good Day. Not a very happy Easter on the boots-on-the-ground level; more of a Good Friday kind of day. I'm hoping that my own emotional stone gets rolled away by tomorrow morning.