Dark Friday

“On this night we have recognized that life is painful and death is inevitable.  We must also acknowledge that simple recognition is not enough.  Acting on life’s harsh realities is our responsibility.  If we are betrayed, but give not the gift of trust again… it will not be enough.”  -Terry Sweetser

Good Friday. A day of solemnity and death.  We know that on the third day, death is replaced with life, on Easter. But at the time, no one could see three days into the future.  They only knew of death.  Right now, I can’t see the future.  There is only the pain and the waiting.

Days are filled with activity and bustle and I try to enjoy the time with my kids.  But sometimes it is an out-of-body experience where I watch other people engage while I am going through the motions.  Hearing something funny or joyful often forces only a hollow laugh, or worse, resentment.  I try, but I feel withdrawn or apathetic.  I can’t make myself care. I can’t pull myself out of this waiting, “in limbo” time. Seventeen weeks to go feels like an eternity.

Last night, I was driving. It was raining steadily and I was cold.  My mind wandered to a very dark place, of knowing that my two previous losses both had medical issues: growth restriction and a chromosome abnormality.  I have thought so many times how I miss them, and my heart holds them close with every tightness. I have a framed quote that says “I will always wonder who you would have been.”  But when I allow my mind to wander to that place of “who were they?” I realized that it is a place of perfect health; free from whatever medical malfunction caused us to lose them.  I felt so unbearably guilty, in a way that I hadn’t previously: for wanting something other than what they were.

I drove all the way to church for an 8:00 service. The Unitarians call it “Tenebrae” – the Service of Shadows.  I sat down, still shivering, still guilt-ridden.  I glanced through the pamphlet that outlined the readings: all dark and somber.  My heart dropped. Perhaps if my mind had not wandered on the drive to a very dark and uncomfortable place, I would have been fine to sit and listen.  But as it stood, the idea of listening to hours of readings and music about sin, persecution, and death was overwhelming.  Perhaps if I had attended a traditional Catholic Good Friday service – at least I would know what to expect and could go through the motions.  But faced with the unknown, I couldn’t handle it. I stood up and walked out before it began, no fear of judgment.

And I went resumed my waiting.