Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Good Friday (a day late)

I made it through Maundy Thursday. Thursday - the one year anniversary of my mom's death. "Anniversary" always sounds too happy, to celebratory to be followed by "of my mom's death." So Thursday - the one year mark.

Then Friday. Good Friday - the emotional hangover day from Thursday. Good Friday, the day we remember Jesus dying on the cross. The day we feel the pain and despair of Jesus' death.

I was really nervous about Good Friday. I had already felt the pain and despair of death the day before, and I didn't think I could handle any more. But this year, instead of pain, instead of heartache, I felt joy. I felt the Good that makes this Friday good.

What's the Good? What can be good about Jesus dying, painfully, humiliatingly? What can be good about the death of someone who was supposed to save people living under Roman oppression?

The Good is that Jesus died. He died. He didn't get taken up in a chariot of fire (even though he could have), he didn't live immortally on earth (even though he could have). He died. Jesus, who was fully divine, fully God, died. Gods aren't supposed to die - especially not human deaths.

But Jesus died. Jesus went through what every single human being goes through - death. Jesus didn't skip over the hard, ugly, sad part of humanity. He experienced it, he felt it, he died. And he didn't just die an easy, comfortable death. He died a horribly painful and agonizingly slow death. He hung in pain, gasping for breath and crying for respite ("My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?").

Jesus' death on Good Friday, even more than his birth, is the incarnation for me. Is the moment where Jesus truly knows what it means to be human, to be broken, to be falling apart, even though he didn't do anything to deserve it. Jesus felt death; he died. Just like you will, just like I will, just like my mom did.

So when the memories of my mom's last few days play before my eyes - when I remember the pain and effort every breath took - I remember Jesus' death. I remember that he knows what it's like to feel pain at the end. He know what it's like to struggle for breath. He knows what it's like for your body to shut down. He knows because he experienced it.

And that is good news. That is compassion - suffering with. That is why I follow Jesus - fully human, fully divine, who died and rose again.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

From St. Luke's Hospital (2)

"If I can learn a little how to die,
To die while body, mind, and spirit still
Move in their triune dance of unity,
To die while living, dying I'll fulfill
The purpose of the finite in infinity.
If God will help me learn to die today,
Today in time I'll touch eternity,
And dying, thus will live within God's Way.
If I can free myself from self's iron bands,
Freed from myself not by myself, but through
Christ's presence in this simple room, in hands
Outstretched in holy friendship, then, born new
In death, truth will outlive the deathly lie,
And in love's light I will be taught to die."

--- The Weather of the Heart by Madeleine L'Engle

Maundy Thursday

The reading for today, Maundy Thursday, from the Book of Common Prayer:

"Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
    so that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord:
19 that he looked down from his holy height;
    from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
20 to hear the groans of the prisoners,
    to set free those who were doomed to die,

21 that they may declare in Zion the name of the Lord,
    and in Jerusalem his praise,
22 when peoples gather together,
    and kingdoms, to worship the Lord."

--- Psalm 102: 18 - 22 (emphasis added)

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

If I don't go to sleep...

If I don't go to sleep then tomorrow will never come, right?

If I don't go to sleep then it will never be the one year anniversary of my mom's death.

If I don't go to sleep then my mom will always have been gone less than a year.

Less than a year I can handle. Less than a year of seeing someone is fine. But a year? More? Then it's just too real. Then it's just too much time since I last saw her, spoke to her, kissed her cheek, held her hand.

I know I'm not supposed to dread tomorrow. It doesn't have to be the worst day ever, blah blah blah. But how can I not dread it? How can I not dread the day I've been preparing for since last April 17th? How do you even prepare for something like this?

Maybe, if I don't go to sleep...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Birthday cards

I have these two birthday cards that I gave my mom last year. One is a popup card of the beach that has recorded wave sounds and seagull calls when you press a button. The other is the bright pink birthday crown that says "Birthday Princess" on it that she wore pretty much all day.

Last year her birthday was the beginning of the end. By the end of the day her crown was off and she'd had a catheter put in. The beach card would still make her smile when she heard it, but her eyes wouldn't always open. Every day after it just got worse and worse.

She died two weeks after her birthday. Two weeks from today will be the one year anniversary of her death.

I don't really know what the next two weeks will look like. But I do know that it feels like I'm re-entering the murky waters of grief that I was able to step out of last month. It's both familiar and frightening.

Today, to celebrate her birthday I made dessert for my small group. Chocolate Amaretto Cheesecake (her specialty), and an apple crisp. I'll probably stare at the cards for awhile, as I sit and remember.

And then we'll just see where tomorrow takes me.