Today was an emotional Easter, the first without Grandma physically present. A friend invited me to her church. She also had a recent loss, but didn’t cry in public like I was doing. “My mom gave me my dad’s school ring. That’s my way of grieving, I look at the ring and remember him.”
As I’ve been adrift in this religion-less weirdness for the past few months, I’ve been tempted to get caught up in the seriousness others have. Regular questions of, “Have you found a church? Or aren’t you going ANYwhere?” are usually delivered with a menacing look like they are searching for my pitchfork. No questions about, “How are you feeling? Are you still crying every day? Does your mom need any help with your Grandma’s house?” They seem to be looking for only legitimate, sanitized, non-smelly replies about denominations and us-versus-them, and did I find a church ‘family’–which I currently have none of those types of answers.
How do I explain to them that I am enjoying being in limbo. I haven’t been this stress-free in ages, and I’m even relishing the ‘not-knowing’ of what the next step is. Maybe that is my ‘true’ style all along, but I’ve never allowed myself to live it—until I’ve had to, because of the slow-down that grief puts on your life. Things that used to be vital no longer are, and smaller things now have greater value. Time, people, seasons, holidays–everything is seen with new eyes, cleared by the science of sorrow.
But today in this little country church, seeing these regular people just sitting together for Easter–I realized that maybe it’s not all that urgent. Maybe it’s all about people sitting together on an Easter Sunday. When my friend asked if we’re having Easter dinner, I said, “I don’t know. I haven’t heard what we’re doing. I think we’re all still on auto-pilot.” Previously I would have had Angst at not having the ‘right answer’ of ham and potatoes and happy people around the table and laughter.
But strangely, today, it didn’t matter that I had no answer, that I had no idea. I was just enjoying this new experience. And maybe I would take a nap later today, I hadn’t decided.
During Communion, the preacher gently brought over the elements to an elderly lady at the end of the pew. He explained and presented and she seemed grateful. Just when I was about to remind myself of my own Grandma in this scene, my friend whispered: “I hope she doesn’t choke. She had a stroke last year.” I started laughing.
I remembered that we don’t HAVE to think of death, loss, missing, dying, absence in such serious ways. We do have a choice. And some of us are lucky enough to have someone to remind us to laugh–even during these scenes that are potentially saturated with ‘meaning’.