During the prelude yesterday morning in church, when, as is custom there, most people were chatting across pews or visiting in the aisles, I suddenly wanted to dart up to the front, cocoon myself in a cozy blanket, lie under the baby grand, and absorb the vibrations while singing along in my heart:
Why should I feel discouraged, why should the shadows come, Why should my heart be lonely, and long for heaven and home, When Jesus is my portion? My constant friend is He: His eye is on the sparrow, and I know he watches me.
As soon as the pianist started, I recognized the tune and felt that he had selected the song for me; I needed those words at that exact moment.
I’d come to church alone, again, a new practice for which I must become accustomed. It’s too painful to sit in “our” usual pew, so I’d decided to sit in different places, so there I sat, feeling alone, with all the visiting going on around me, when I recognized the song being played. I choked up and my eyes teared as the words kicked in from some recess in my brain. So full of emotion was I that I thought I’d have to leave, but as I sang along, the words “I know He watches me” took hold, and I was able to take a breath and stay.
It had been hard to get up and go to church; I’d rather have stayed in bed. But I know that once I make the effort to go, I’m always in for helpful surprises–the genuine “How are you doing?” from an elder, the hug from the greeter, the smiles from parishioners, and the little old lady grabbing my hands and saying, “My sympathy. It’s been seven years for me.” Me responding, “So you know.” And then a phone call in the afternoon, “I missed you after church. We both had different conversations going, but I wanted to talk to you about…”
How does one process all the “stuff” that goes on in the midst of losing a loved one? I became aware last week that I wasn’t processing, I was only existing. I was nobly getting out of bed, getting dressed, and showing up where I had to be, and, I hope, acting appropriately. But I’ve had little to no feeling, and then I thought this is maybe what numbness feels like. The shock and disbelief that often occurs at the onset of bad news. I chuckled to myself thinking I’d not experienced that with Marv’s diagnosis–he’d taken it as so matter-of-fact that I’d ridden along on his acceptance–but now, as I sit alone after his illness and dying and death and service are over, I’m having a delayed response. Numbness due to shock and disbelief, that yes it’s all really happened; those seven months from diagnosis to death really did occur.
So, this morning, I sit here in my study at the new desk my son made for me, taking reservations for my subdivision’s monthly dinner. I’d signed up to host last fall, not anticipating, of course, I’d be hosting alone. My daughter is due soon with my grandkids. Our outing on this overcast, hot, and humid Labor Day will be lunch out and me buying a new dining set. I’ve been looking–my counter height table isn’t that comfortable for long chats, and I plan to invite my recently new friends over for lunches and long talks, and I found something that should be perfect, and the set is even on sale.
As I go about this day, the words I know He cares for me are solidly in my heart. And I am confident that I will emerge someday from this state of numbness.