Sunday’s Coming, But It’s Different for Everyone

Saturday.

It’s been on my mind all day today, what with today being, well, you know, Saturday.  And tomorrow being Easter.  And I’m wondering what that first Saturday was like, the one after the horrors and sadness of the day before.  I usually do that every year about this time.   I think about the day and wonder about different things.

I wonder, I mean I was just thinking, did anyone walk up to those who were grieving the loss of the one they loved, the one who had been brutally and suddenly taken from them, and say, “Well, it will all be okay.”   “Don’t worry, he’s in a better place.”  “It’s all a part of the Master plan.”  I just wonder…..

It was Saturday afternoon.  I’d spent the better part of the day at my alma mater with my oldest for scholarship day, a day filled with interviews and forums and walking all over campus.  I’d been anxious and worried, as Mama had been in the hospital for three weeks and moved into a different room on a different floor just the afternoon before.  I wanted to be with my oldest, but I also wanted to be with my Mama. 

Upon arriving at the hospital, a nurse was adjusting some of Mama’s IV’s and medications, and it was apparent that things were not going well.  The nurse was trying to bring up some numbers and down some others.  She saw my face and looked at my seventeen year old, and said she was too young to be in the room.  What she didn’t say was I’d be asked to leave if I let the panic in my face be unleashed.  Mess Cat, who had been with Mama all day and the night before, took my girl and went to get a bite to eat.  I was sitting by myself, willing Mama to fight this unknown evil and soaking in the first quiet moments of the day. 

And then she walked in. 

She introduced herself as a hospital chaplain. 

Ah yes, right.  I had asked one of the patient representatives about having a chaplain come in and spend some time with Mama.  She had been so comforted by her own pastors and friends who had come in and visited.  We had been told by at least one nurse that Mama didn’t seem to be resting well at night.  I had wanted to ask the chaplain on call to check in with her during those long night hours when we hadn’t been allowed to be with her, prior to her moving to the MICU the day before. 

She sat right down next to me on the couch that would later fold out into a bed for me and Mess Cat to sleep fitfully upon.  She asked me how I was doing. 

“Okay, I guess.  I mean, well–” I gestured toward Mama in the bed a few feet away.  I started to explain what we were hoping for.  “I am glad you are here though–“

She interrupted me.  She was not there because she’d gotten the message that Mama needed visits.  I’m not sure if we were on her room list and needed to be checked off or if the nurses had asked for us to have a visit to get through this difficult time.  Whichever it was, she was not going to sit and listen to me explain about Mama.  She had her spiel, and she went into it.  About how I needed to turn to my faith and not let the darkness overcome me.  That I needed to turn to God. 

It was overwhelming to tell you the truth.  In the past forty-five minutes, I had driven across town while listening to my oldest compare the two colleges she’d visited over the past week, parked on the roof of the parking garage, where I’d changed out of my dress pants and into the jeans I’d brought, switched from dress shoes to my comfortable ones, entered the hospital, walked down to Mama’s floor, been admitted to the unit (imagine having to have permission to see your Mama!), and been hit full force by the apparent problems that were needing to be addressed for Mama.  I was having to think about changing her code status; and if that weren’t enough, this woman who didn’t know me or my Mama or what we were going through, and apparently wasn’t going to take the time to hear any of our story, tells me I need to turn to God. 

Excuse me, lady, if it’s all the same to you, you don’t know me like that. 

Before I could pick my chin up off the floor, she patted my hand.  “I tell you what, I want you to sit here,” she patted the couch, “just sit right here and think about God your Father.  Just think about Him and how much He cares for you and take all of that in, and I’ll be back in 30 minutes and we’ll talk about how you’re feeling then.” 

My chin slammed back down and hit the tile floor again.  The only thing I could think, as I held back the tears was, “My Father is gone, and I’m scared I’m losing my Mama too, and you want me to sit still?  There are things I.  Have.  To.  Take. Care.  Of.  That I Must Do.  Thank you, but NO.” 

Instead I sat and didn’t dare speak for what might come out of my mouth.  The one who had raised me better, to act like I am somebody, lay only a few feet away, and for all I knew, she could hear every word.  So I just stared blankly at this woman who called herself a chaplain, as she gathered her clipboard, handed me her card, and made her way out of the room. 

Soon after that Mess Cat and Aub came back in the room.  I shared with them what had happened.  I was livid–appalled, and they were too.  When the chaplain came back, my sister excused her and told her it wasn’t the time.  And it wasn’t.  I was signing paperwork about insurance coverage, as Mama had been in the hospital enough days that they needed additional information.  Right after that, I talked with Dr. G, who was such a great ally for us and good advocate for Mama, and I signed paperwork, changing Mama to a DNR. 

Horror.  Sadness.  Nothing like what those who loved Jesus and watched the crucifixion went through, but painful still.  As I sat there on that Saturday, waiting and wondering and talking to God, and shaking my head, hoping it was all a very, very bad dream,  someone sat next to me and said, “It will all be okay. God’s got this.” 

And all I could think of was, “Really? Because I’m not so sure. Couldn’t He have stopped this at any moment?”

I wonder if any of them–any of the disciples, Mary, Mary Magdalene, I wonder if any of them thought these same thoughts–if any of them wanted to scream and punch a wall.  I wonder if anyone, well-intentioned as they might be–said to any of them, Just sit here and think about your faith.  Trust.

I wonder what it was like fearing you had lost the One who gave you new life.  The One who made a way for you to live out your life.  The One whose example you sought to emulate.

Or maybe I don’t have to wonder about that part so much.  Because in just over twenty-four hours after the chaplain visited, my Mama was given new life of her own, healed, no more pains and heartaches–she joined my Daddy and the little ones whom she never got to hold.  The woman who gave me life, who called me out about my poor choices, set a beautiful example of how to live, and loved me through everything–she was gone.

The brokenness of Friday, the waiting and wondering and heartbreak of Saturday, and then there’s Sunday.

Tonight my heart is heavy for those for whom tomorrow does not bring joy.  Easter is more than a day, it’s a lifting of the spirit.  And not everyone is able to have that on this day.  There are friends in the hospital, friends who have just said goodbye to someone they loved most in this world, friends who are waiting on tests to come back, friends who will wake up in the cold air of morning and their day will be no different from any other, except that those who pass them by, seemingly without seeing them, are dressed a little brighter, a little fancier.

For them, Sunday comes, but Easter may not.

May our words be a comfort and not leave the ears upon which they fall filled with sadness and hurt, may we understand that not everyone is able to rejoice on this Day of days, and may we seek to listen and to love first and foremost, putting others before ourselves.  And may the quiet moments of this day sound louder than the festive ones, filling our hearts with more to ponder upon as the sun sets and a new season begins.

Love and understanding to all.

 

 

 

In the Waiting and Uncertainty

Yesterday I was at the Getting Place getting some “stuff,” and this gave me pause.

Black jelly beans.  They were Daddy's favorites.

Black jelly beans. They were Daddy’s favorites.

And made me a little sad.

The Easter Bunny brought us jelly beans every year, tucked in our green plastic grass that was put away in a bread bag every year for safekeeping until the next Easter.  And every year, I would dig through and pull out the black ones first thing.  And pass them to my right.  Where my Daddy sat at the end of the table.  They were his favorites, and little on Easter morning brought me as much joy as giving him these favorites of his.

This was in the day before they bagged the black ones separately all by themselves. Once they started doing that, I usually picked a bag up for him–sometimes for Easter, sometimes just because.

He’d keep the bag with a twist tie on it, and it would be stored in the little wooden box that sat by his recliner in the living room.  Daddy would pull out the bag, untwist it, pour a few in his palm, and eat the licorice flavored sweets.  Then he’d twist the bag back up, and tuck it away until his sweet tooth called out for them again.

I read something years ago about Holy Saturday, which is upon us now.  That first Saturday–the day after Good Friday.  It was described as a day of waiting, of uncertainty, of in-between.  A day of not knowing.

I think back to the time after Daddy was diagnosed with Lymphoma, his Giant to fight, in 2009.  So much of that time felt just like that–waiting, being uncertain, weeping for what we were most afraid of, feeling in-between, longing for resurrection in the form of good news–remission, a cure, a misdiagnosis, a miracle, something, anything.

What I didn’t know or see at the time is that in those moments of waiting, there were many small moments of redemption and life-affirming joy.  In the midst of the fear, there was faith.  In the grasping for answers, there was hope.  In the moments of worry and sadness, there was laughter and light in his eyes, his voice, his stories, and his words.  In those moments of being in-between, the who we were with conquered where we were.

And that’s as it should be, isn’t it?  Even in the hardest of situations, because of who I was with, I was able to get through the where and the what, and move beyond with a tad bit of hope and a whole lot of love.

Daddy’s jelly beans.  A precious memory.  But what makes it so special is the memory of his hand held out to accept what I offered from mine.  The smile on his face, acting like he was surprised that I didn’t want them myself.  The way his eyes lit up when he bit into the first one every year.  Daddy loved black jelly beans–he loved us even more.  And in the waiting, in the uncertainty, it was that love that conquered all.

May your waiting find you surrounded by those who love you, and may you find the joy and peace of Easter waiting for you on the other side.

Love to all.