Sunday, April 16, 2006

My Easter Solo

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.

22 comments:

RuthRE said...

Hey Lady,

I was there with you. You were on my mind at service today, particularly during the prayers (and last night at the vigil, etc).

I can understand the being solo thing...and i'm a "straight" girl :)

Although today, I have to say was a day of really appreciating my community.

Peace to you my friend.

LutheranChik said...

Thanks, Ruth.

One of the self-recriminatory thoughts that kept inserting myself into my head today was, You have people literally all over the world who love you and care about you...what are you whining about? How ungrateful can you be? Who do you think you are, anyway? (My pastor, BTW, identifies this kind of negative internal monologue as the work of the Adversary.)

You know...as wonderful as everyone has been, it's just not the same. And this is my process, dammit, and I can feel however the hell I want to.;-)

I am just very, very, very tired. Tired of having to do everything myself and by myself and for myself. There are times in my life when I feel the opposite -- when I'm all empowered and chest-pounding and Rosie-the-Riveter "I Can Do It!"...on my own behalf or on others' behalf. This is not one of those times. I just don't have anything left right now. Got nuthin'.

Verdugo said...

(((LC))))

there are not words, only our hearts.

JWD said...

I was praying for you during church this morning, too. (And you're not whining.)

RuthRE said...

Don't feel guilty at all for feeling the way that you do! It makes perfect sense that you feel as you do!

Naomi said...

Don't feel guilty. It is perfectly normal. And many people you don't know have learned to know and love you through your blogs. We pray for you daily. It is good for you to vent and we are glad serve as 'listening ears.'

Be good and kind to yourself.
Cheers. Naomi

Lorna said...

(((((L.chik))))

Lord,
Hold her close to You now, just when she needs it the most. Show her Your loving care, that she is not alone. I pray Lord that ministering hands reach out in many ways. Thank you most of all that it IS ok to rant and rave and be angry and to express hurt, and lonliness, even anger at the UNFAIRNESS of it all, and You will not listen and run away.
Help my friend now Lord. She needs YOU. Amen

Nicodemia said...

Oh LC, how I wish I could have been sitting there with you!

Losing your Mum is hard. You need hugs, real ones, not cyber hugs! And what you feel is real, right and perfectly OK.

Take care (((((((((LC)))))))))

Kathryn said...

What they've all said...The situation sucks, and much though we long to, we can't really make it better for you.
So, just you feel the way you feel, and tell us the reality, with no need for smiley masks.
Lots of hugs xxx

David Huff said...

BTW, that was a GREAT tangential rant! Us staid Episcopalians aren't known for this, but...

/me throws his hands in the air and hollers, "Preach it, sister!"

Ditto all the good wishes above. Self-medication with chocolate can be a good thing sometimes (I flashed back to the Harry Potter book where that was the remedy for an encounter with a certain sort of evil creature ;)

Rainbowkate said...

You often pop into my thoughts, LC. Still praying for you and the smiting of homophobic dimwits.

I hate being told I should "enjoy being single". I don't hate being single, but the cat (or dog) just doesn't cut it when you need someone who is there just for you and will hold you when you need to cry.

Chocolate is always the answer.

Kate

Rainbow Pastor said...

LC--
Rant on, sister! I'm the one the front row raising my arms and hollering "A-men! Preach it, sistah!!")

And you feel however you need to feel. It's your process. Cry, scream, eat chocolate, clean the garage, stare at mindless TV instead of PBS...whatever is good for you.

RP

Evelyn said...

I can so relate to your post. I, too, was sitting alone at Easter service. Celebratory times can be SO difficult when we're in a rough spot in our life. I actually cried through part of the service. I'm divorced, and neither of my teenage (almost adult) children chose to spend time with me yesterday. Yes, it is lonely being single, on a very deep level. I do understand, and I'm glad you shared!

LutheranChik said...

David (and all): And then there's the kinder, gentler bigoted dimwittedness of "This hurts me more than it hurts you, but..." (No it doesn't, so shut up and go away.)or the related "It's not me, it's God," as in, "Hey, if it were up to me, you could do whatever you wanted -- but I'm just telling you what God says..." (No, you're not, so shut up and go away.)

Everyone else: Thank you. It's funny how a good rant can kind of air your brain a little.

Today I had to go fetch the "cremains," a story which really needs its own post, so you'll have to come back tonight to read about it.

Kathryn said...

Ouch...why does that not fill me with hope for you, I wonder? Will check in later (not sure when "tonight" will turn out to be in UK terms (ONE day I really will suss those time zones..possibly)
Hugs for now x

Sheryl said...

I totally understand the well-meaning people who tell you to embrace your singleness. I'm straight, but after you hit a certain age you either get told that being single is a singular blessing, or you get everyone you know throwing every single person with boy parts in your direction. Both are annoying.

And even though I've reached the point in my own grieving where I can get through holidays without a torrent of tears, it still sucks to realize you are alone. Sending you hugs, kisses, and chocolate (the expensive kind you only buy once in a blue moon).

zorra said...

((((((LutheranChik))))))

I hope today is better.

(P.S. great blog)

Beth said...

Here's the biggest shove I can possibly give that stone of yours!!!

Charlotte said...

LC, your mother just died, somewhat unexpectedly. Create your space and whine away.

We prayed for you at St. Spike's.

((hugs))

fausto said...

{{{LC}}}

Choralgirl said...

Hey, Lutheranchik--

I'm a heretofore anonymous lurker in your blog (which I very much enjoy). I've been praying for you here in MN throughout your ordeal with your mom. I'm so sorry for your loss. Also, I didn't find my partner 'til after 30, and got a series of the same "embrace your singleness" speech; my sympathies.

Know that you have a gay Lutheran "sister" in me; though we haven't met, I think we have a bunch in common! (I've been to seminary, and currently serve a Minneapolis church as music director.) A good friend of mine died a couple of months ago, and this Holy Week/Easter cycle was tough on me, too.

Courage, sister, and let your grief happen as it has to. God is present, even in the abyss, and you have many prayers winging heavenward on your behalf.

Choralgirl

J.C. Fisher said...

And Lord, while you're enfolding LC in Your Love and all . . . could you please maybe give LC's "She's Out There Somewhere" Soulmate (the one You made just for her) LC's address? So the hugs (Et. Cetera!!!) next Easter are little more, well, incarnate? ;-p

{{{Hang in there, LC!}}}