Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Filler (eleven months)

I think this month's mostly filler.

Yesterday was eleven months. Honestly, it sounds like a weird number. Ten sounded normal, twelve is where the vocab switches to a year, but eleven just seems so liminal. 

This month feels liminal too, like the calm before the storm. Or at least the most calm, the least grief-filled a month has been in a long, long time (two years and seven months, but who's counting).

I'm happy to live in this in-between state, especially when it's filled with sunshine. But everything looks towards April. I catch myself looking forward in my calendar, completely skipping over and forgetting that it's still only March. Instead I feel the pull of impending doom - the month that holds both my mom's birthday and deathday. Oh, and Easter, for good measure. Thank goodness it also holds spring break and days off and hopefully some rest. 

So this month on the 17th, instead of being intentional with my grief, I got a massage, and watched the Veronica Mars movie (so good, for all you marshmallows out there), and made Reuben sandwiches, and spent time with  a good friend. Because what's an anniversary without Veronica Mars? And why not? I still think this month's mostly filler. 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Ash Wednesday, again

Remember you are dust, and to dust you will return.

Today the season of Lent begins. A season to mourn, to pray, to be reminded that we are ashes, we are human, we make mistakes. In the Christian tradition people often give up something for the 40 days leading up to Easter, to fast and empty themselves like Jesus fasted in the desert before starting his ministry.

Last year, when people asked me what I was giving up for Lent, I said I was giving up my mom. It was a little bit of gallows humor, but also pretty true. She died 17 days after Easter.

This year I'm giving up my mom for Lent again, but in a different way.

Last Sunday my housemate, who knows what its like to lose a mom, prayed for me after church. She prayed that I could give my mom over to God, and that I could release the grief that I had been holding onto for more than two years. After she prayed for me I felt lighter, freer, happier. I've had three good days in a row, which, after a hard February, feels pretty amazing.

So this year, instead of being a time of mourning, Lent is going to be a time of preparing. A time of preparing for Easter, preparing for the resurrection of Jesus, preparing for hope.

For these next 40 days I'm going to keep releasing my grief and giving it back to God, who can hold it better than I can. For these next 40 days I'm going to remember to be present, to see God's little resurrections all around me. For these next 40 days I'm going to live the promise of the tree of life, whose leaves are for the healing of the nations.

I don't really know what this looks like. There may be days when God says, "here, grieve a little bit. It's important, and a part of your healing." There may be days when I have to eat lots of chocolate to make it through. I'm hoping there are days where I can spend time with good friends in the midst of trees and babbling brooks, outside of the city and outside of the norm. I'm hoping there are days where I sit in coffee shops sipping hot beverages and reading good books. I'm hoping there are more days of joy and beauty and hope than I've had in a long time. And I'm hoping that there are days of remembering, remembering her, with love and with longing, and maybe even a little bit of peace.

This year for Lent I'm giving up my mom. I'm letting go of my grief. And I'm remembering the promises of healing, of life in death, of hope.