I guess I feel pretty blessed. This has been “All Saints’ Day” with the tradition of reading the names aloud in the service. Mary Ann’s name was not read. None of the names were. There was a list in the Service Bulletin. but no reading. I am sure her name was read in the congregation I served the last twelve years of my ministry, but I was not at home and could not attend that service.
I am currently in Kentucky visiting Daughter Lisa, Denis and Granddaughters. I knew that Lisa had requested that Mary Ann’s name be included on All Saints’ Sunday here, and my experience in the past concerning the tradition resulted in the expectation that it would be read aloud. I felt emotionally vulnerable and expected to be impacted by the reading. While I was not sure I was ready to hear it, I was certainly disappointed when it I did not hear it.
I really like how the worship is conducted here in Lisa and Denis’s congregation. The music is wonderful. Pianist Todd has improvisational skills combined with an obvious reverence that results in a welcoming tone throughout the service. I like the Pastor, appreciate the preaching. I just missed the reading of the names aloud. It was a sad morning in that regard. On the other side of it, Granddaughter Ashlyn was in a hugging mode. She kept her Grandpa close in church. She was sitting next to me and sang out clearly on the songs. She and Granddaughter Abigail have perfect intonation when they sing. Both Ashlyn and Abigail drew pictures for me during church. I realize that I need to focus on life now, but the grieving and remembering are still an important part of my reality.
I remembered one All Saints’ Day when after the service a parent asked why their daughter who had died early that year was not included. I was horrified that it had not gotten in since I had done the funeral. I was able to discover the reason it wasn’t automatically on the list to be read. The pattern for doing statistics for our national church body demands a certain way of recording folks. The usual process used to obtain the names for the list did not work in her case. It should have been caught and included. I apologized, but it couldn’t undo the damage. I now understand more fully the impact of not hearing read the name of someone loved deeply and lost in death.
It is now Monday evening and I have returned home. The feelings of sadness hung around yesterday (Sunday) and throughout most of the day today as I traveled. It is always hard to say goodbye when coming to the end of a visit with family, especially the Kids and Grandkids. The sadness is, of course, missing Mary Ann. Lot’s of things brought her to mind. It is always interesting to analyze the path from some random thought through the mental twists and turns that lead to from whatever the first thought was to missing Mary Ann.
The sadness is also just feeling sorry for myself. I have loved solitude for so long that it is hard to admit how much I don’t like being alone now. Mary Ann was not at all verbal, especially in the last few years. She did, however, have a strong presence. She was in the car when we traveled, with needs that had to be met. She was at home when I came home from wherever. Her needs filled our lives with activity. I was by myself in the car for nine or ten hours. I came home to an empty house. It is hard to make sense of this new reality, to find meaning and purpose in life without someone else with whom to share that life. I recognize how pitiful this sounds, since there are people by the tens of millions who live by themselves and have fulfilling and meaningful lives. I will get there eventually. There are lots of times when I am on course to wholeness. There are just times like these when the sadness hangs on for a while.
Tomorrow is a very full day. Hopefully, there will be little time for the sadness. Focusing on immediate tasks and the needs of others helps diminish the power of the sadness, allowing joy to return.