Psychic pain is still pain, physical pain. Today is the 71st anniversary of Mary Ann’s birth. Sunday was Mother’s Day. Maybe I am just not remembering last year clearly but this second time around almost two years from the event seems harder than the first year’s anniversary of the events.
The moment of her death was almost two years ago. Why is there sometimes still pain? The answer is obvious. It is not about then – it is about now. She is gone right now. The memories of those last weeks (and years for that matter) are present now.
Sunday morning I rushed to the grocery and bought some roses from the floral department, drove over to the cemetery and lay them on the gravestone. I was on my way out of town for the day, but I returned early in the evening to spend a little more time there. This morning I attended a funeral and went to the graveside service which was held a short distance from Mary Ann’s Marker, where the roses still lay. They had dried but were still there. The casket at the funeral had been draped with the Funeral Pall purchased in memory of Mary Ann.
From first awareness of the day when I awoke this morning there was a large, heavy stone resting in my gut. There are a number of things for which I am preparing, any of which could create some apprehensions, but it was clear that this was simple grief. Most of you who have lost a spouse or a child are not surprised at all that the second year anniversary of such significant events brings pain equal to or greater than the first anniversaries. I have heard from many others who have been through it that the second and sometimes other anniversaries are more difficult.
I have concluded rightly or wrongly that the natural defenses we have developed keep some of the more intense feelings at bay until there seems to be a readiness to handle them. That seems to me to explain why so many times people to whom I was ministering would be hit with grief sometimes years after the event they were grieving. If that is the case, experiencing grief pain can a sign of health, a natural part of progressing along the way in the grief journey.
I have to say that I don’t feel unhealthy or disabled by the grief, just aware of it and the pain it produces when it comes. By the way, I would not suggest that someone who is not subject to grief pain after two years is not healthy. Circumstances differ from person to person impacting how the grief process moves along.
Sunday afternoon included a trip to the ballet in Kansas City. It was entertaining but not compelling enough to dissipate the feelings that brought me to get the roses and lay them on the gravestone. I had attended a worship service in a parish at which I will be preaching at the end of the month. That parish is located half way between here and Kansas City. The time in the car was a time deep in feelings of grief. It was then that I realized the moment Mary Ann died is not simply a moment locked in the past two years ago. It is a present reality.
Yesterday I spent a number of hours cutting and pasting and editing some of the posts I wrote just after Mary Ann died recounting her and my life together. I have committed to sending whatever I have written on the book so far to my Writing Mentor and Spouse later this week. The work I did yesterday actually revealed some major missteps in the first part of what I have written. I am hopelessly embarrassed by that. I hope to get some more done tomorrow afternoon. I will send what I have no matter how embarrassed I feel by what I am sending.
This afternoon, the large heavy stone in my gut seemed to lighten and shrink until finally its presence is no longer discernible, at least for now.
There was a need to focus for a while on the sermon I will be preaching this Sunday at the 50th Anniversary of the congregation I served in the Oklahoma City area before we moved here. That was followed by visiting a former Parishioner and Friend at an Assisted Living residence, bringing Communion to him. The time spent there talking with him is at least as beneficial to me as to him. I concluded the afternoon stopping at PT’s Flying Monkey. There were great conversations on lots of different subjects from food to travel to science and religion to coffee to scotch to music and all with a variety of people whom I thoroughly enjoy.
The journey goes on.