Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Someone Else

My mom died the end of June. My sister was here while we got the bulk of her apartment cleaned out--though my house is still a disaster. She left mid-July. It was around then that I started exercising--doing Couch to 5k. My husband decided that he wanted us to participate in an 'adventure race' -- canoeing, biking, running. I'm decidedly not athletic; I never have been. I have since been in a canoe, but it had been years. I can't swim and am terrified of water, so I'm really not looking forward to that! Biking--eh. We have a tandem bike that we got years ago and we had done a decent amount of riding. Then we had kids, so haven't done that much. When we got the tandem, it was my first time on a bike since my childhood banana seat bike. I did eventually move on to a bike of my own, but not much. And running--ha!

However, I've been enjoying the 30ish minutes I'm out every few days doing this program. It's time to myself. Which made my husband laugh because I'm a solo pastor of a small church--I have a part-time secretary and a preschool rents space from us. In the summer, most of the time it's me and me alone in the office. In the school year, it's still me alone in my office but with childhood noises from the other end of the building. So it's not like I'm never alone, but running--or at this point--walking with a little running, that's just me--when all I have to worry about is me.

I've watched The Biggest Loser for most of its seasons and have always noticed the people crying--and Jillian or Bob call them out about the tears not being about the exercise.

Last night, I realized that about me. Last night, as I was jogging and struggling, I realized that I'm liking this because it's like I'm someone else. I'm not the person I was a few months ago. I'm so very sad and I miss my mom so much. I'm not the person I was when mom was alive. In every other part of my life right now (work, home with kids, etc.), things are pretty much 'back to normal.' But I'm not--I'm someone else. And doing this Couch to 5k is something someone else would do--not me. I'm going to keep at it though because I'm having to learn to be someone else--a motherless, fatherless child--in all of my life. And maybe, just maybe, this will help me do it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014


Last Sunday was a particularly difficult Sunday for me. You see, we had guest musicians. Their music style is bluegrass/gospel? I'm not great on my musical genres. This group comes once a year. My mom loved their music. She loved our traditional hymnody too. But this, this first time this group was here and she wasn't. Well, it was rough. Thankfully, they saved "I'll fly away" for their very last song, when I felt more free to let the tears run down my cheeks even as I sang along.

I'm the pastor and didn't really feel like sobbing during worship would be okay. But I also realized that in worship is normally when I can cry. In worship is when I grieve. That's been the case over and over in my life. In worship, I can let the tears spill down my cheeks AND be comforted by the promises of God as I do. But when I'm the one leading worship, I've got to bite my lip and not let the tears keep coming.

Many of my loved ones have died, and I've had those worship places to grieve their losses when they were most heavy. The other losses I still carry, but a tear or a slight catch in my throat is all that usually happens in worship. But Mom, well, Mom's loss is so fresh. And it occurred to me Sunday, that I am so connected to her in worship--especially in this space.

My mom was a model of faith for me. We were always at church--always. She worked there for years, only after having volunteered there for many more. So many of my memories of my childhood involve sitting with her in the same pew. I'm convinced, though she wasn't, that had she been born a generation later, she'd have become a pastor.

And most recently, despite my objections, she joined my congregation 3 years ago when she moved to my town to be caregiver for my children. It cost her a pastor because she had a daughter. But it gave me so much. It gave me my mom sitting in the same worship space as me again. It gave me her faith--her guidance. I was able to ask her opinion about which Bible Study to pick, or if my newsletter article made sense before I sent it to print, or if the creative worship I planned wasn't *too* crazy for my fairly traditional congregation. I was able to see her sharing her faith again and helping my daughter learn to read from the hymnal--just as she did with me. I got to see her faith in action a few more times.

But not that long ago, we held her funeral in this very same space. It was a beautiful funeral--everything I could have hoped for in a funeral. That was the last time she was in that worship space with me.

And so Sunday was just so hard.

Friday, August 08, 2014


I recently saw an image (that I'm not going to take the effort to find at the moment) which pictures "what we want grief to look like" vs. "what grief actually looks like." The first is a nice straight-line arrow. The other begins as a straight-line arrow and turns into a tangled mess. Yeah, that.

It's so true. My emotions are all over the place. I had my annual physical today and the doctor asked about mood. I kind of laughed--I 'have trouble' with all of those--sadness, anxiety, anger, etc. But it's all 'normal.' I really don't think any of them can be solved with medication for me right now. I just need to figure out how to navigate them--because they are all the result of grief.

I miss my mom so much. I miss my dad so much. I'm not a true orphan--I'm 36 years old for crying out loud. I have 2 children of my own. But I feel so alone.

This ministry thing can be a lonely thing anyhow and grief doesn't help. A facebook friend of mine posted an article about "10 mom friends every mom should have" (like who doesn't get grossed out by anything, whose the crafty mom, etc.) Mutual friends started posting about who is which number for whom. And I felt like the left-out, shy junior high girl again, with a hint of jealously thrown in. I had briefly been in a mom's group with these women, but even while I still was, I couldn't have listed anyone who is one of those to me. My mom was my go-to for all of these things too.

And this was not where I intended to go, is what it is.