"If you hear a voice within you say 'you cannot paint,' by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced." - Vincent Van Gogh

Monday, April 1, 2013

Reflections on Resurrection Sunday...

I have a few thoughts coming out of yesterday....

Church was tough... no way around it. I chose to go to my mom's church because that's the church where my dad spent many of the last years of his life ministering, so I was with many friends and relatives. It was still a tear fest for me. Every song set me off. Scripture comforted me. The message was great. But the songs... oh boy....

I never knew how much the songs on Easter referred to "the grave". It makes sense and on some level I always knew it to be true, but when you've just put someone you love dearly in the grave and the ground is still fresh and churned, that word takes on a whole new meaning. It's kind of like rubbing salt in an open wound.

The hope of the risen Lord coming to abolish death is a wonderful thing. I don't know how people who don't believe get through the death of a loved one. I would go stark raving mad. However, the hope we have is a far away hope - it's like the rest of the aspects of faith, you know God is there for you, but in the here and now, your circumstances still suck. To be reunited with that loved one you actually have to die too. There's no crossing over that Jordan river in the land of the living even for a little chat. It's a harsh reality.

People sure are happy on Easter. The same people who cried with us a few weeks ago have moved on, but we still cry. It's a bit of a lonely feeling. It's not to say that people weren't sensitive, because they were, but in the end, you are all alone in your grief.

While I could hardly get through church, dinner was a much better experience. My sister and brother-in-law make a spread that could rival any restaurant. They spice everything to perfection, always trying new recipes and succeeding. Everything was fantastic and I ate joyfully.

We changed things up a bit to make it more tolerable. My sister set up multiple tables which got us away from the "this is where Dad always sat" problem. Mom sat in his seat. The rest of us wandered around playing musical tables. The day was beautiful and we were able to eat outside. 59 degrees for the robust New Englanders seemed like real spring.

The company was superb! I didn't know how I could handle the day being with people. The good thing was these were good friends. Friends who love to laugh. Smart, talented amazing people who we've known for a long time and who loved my father too. They were friends that were well aware of the realities of grief because they had been through it too... in harsh, awful ways. They got it and it made the day that much more bearable. It's just so good to surround yourself with people who you love and who love you. It's really the best medicine.

One of my friends said to me that the reason that we just can't ever accept death is because we weren't created that way. We were never created to die or experience death. So true....

My mom and sister have been doing some research on my dad's cause of death. Death is so final, but it's normal to go back to those last few days before and wonder if it could have been prevented. I haven't spent much time thinking about "if only" but there has been a question in my mind about why the doctor didn't know this was going on when he had his heart tested and a clean bill of health given just a few days before his death. Apparently "ventricular fibrillation" happens when the bottom two chambers of the heart just shut down. It's a muscle issue as opposed to "arterial fibrillation" which tends to be more common and treatable. It seems that there would have been very little that they could do to prevent this kind of episode from happening in my father. If we had known this was the problem, we would have worried and watched him, waiting for that moment. I probably would have followed him around with fib paddles. It would have been no quality of life for him or us.

In addition, when "ventricular fibrillation" happens, the person passes out immediately, feeling no pain, and the blood is no longer pumped through the body. Brain damage happens within five minutes. If they had been able to bring him back it would have been a sadder reality.

Do these things make me feel better? No, I suppose not. I'd like for him not to have had that problem but I suppose at age 77, things do start to wear out. We speculate on why his heart wore out so quickly. Was it the scarlet fever at age 4 that almost took him back then? Did it damage his heart? Whatever the cause, our bodies all break down. I should know that as well as anyone. It's almost easier to have it happen to yourself than someone you love though.

It was four weeks ago today. That's one month. For most of life's little traumas we can move on in a few minutes, or days. Something like this... I hear three years to get to some kind of point of being ok. Here I am after one month still blogging about the same topic. I kind of hoped that I could go through the grief of lent and when Sunday came.... I could start focusing on the new life part of the equation. Grief doesn't work that way.... and that's alright.

So, no big answers or hope or meditation today. Yesterday was kind of draining. I'm going to lay low, bring my daughter back to her dorm, maybe clean the house (big maybe there) and take a nice, long walk. What are you going to do today?

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