Today is a gift.
It is my day off from my job (which I love already). And since my job (which I already love) is new ~ like, really new, like I started four days ago ~ the timing is great because my brain needed a rest from all the new, NEW, NEW that has gone in. It’s exhausting starting a new job (even one you love).
Today has also been a gift because it is the day I wrote my eulogy for my mother’s memorial service. It’s been a day of making space for grief.
It was a gift because it’s been awhile since my mother died – five months – and much has happened in that time. Life has gone on. I have been called to a new ministry and said good-bye to one I very much loved. I have said farewell to one child who is now half a world away and welcomed the other one home for two months before she found a new place to live. We said goodbye to dear friends in New Jersey, moved to Vermont, bought a new home (that we love), and I started this new job. All this (and more) since my mother died.
So time for intentional grieving: not so much.
So I am thankful for the day off, for the spaciousness of it, for having the house to myself, and for letting the hours have their way with me as I looked at photos of my mother, as I listened to music she played on the 1970s console stereo of my childhood (Peter, Paul & Mary; Helen Reddy; John Denver; Simon & Garfunkel; my brother says Johnny Cash, but I don’t remember that).
Soon after she died, my brother’s family sat shiva (they are Jewish; she was not). It was healing for me to take part in that, if only for a few days. Even as she was dying, we knew that it would be some time before we held a memorial service. Eventually we settled on a date: what would have been her 82nd birthday, which is next week. So that’s why I’m writing the eulogy now.
Days, and weeks, and months have gone by. Grief is here, has been here, but not so proximate.
Except for when it is proximate. Except for when it is in my face, bidden or unbidden. Except for when I bring my attention to it residing in my heart.
This week, in choosing what books and trinkets and pieces of art to have in my new office, I decided not to include this plaque. It’s one that I’ve had for awhile. My ex gave it to me, so it must be over 20 years ago. It’s in Latin and it says
Bidden or unbidden: god is here.
I have always loved it. Plus, I love the confusion it can evoke, given that I do not consider myself a god-believer. Though I do love the poetry of god language.
Anyway, that is how I feel about grief: bidden or unbidden, showing itself explicitly or not, grief is here. Convenient or inconvenient. Timely or just imposing itself like a bull in a china shop.
Today, as a gift to myself, I am inviting it. I am bidding it. And I am doing its bidding Later this afternoon, I am going to re-read my blog post series, Adventures in Dementia*land ~ another way to commune with my mother and our story.
Today is a gift.